I began my broadcast news career before I could even legally drink. When I was 20 years old and still in college, I was hired, despite my lack of experience, to be the weekend reporter and “weather person” at the local CBS affiliate in Youngstown, Ohio. How could this incredibly green news reporter even maintain a modicum of credibility?
In all honesty, I did at least look older than I was and could project confidence beyond my years. I also knew enough to dress the part, having spent quite a bit of time observing the wardrobes of news anchors at stations where I had interned in the past.
But my voice belied my youth. Undeterred, my news director was kind and savvy enough to conduct an intervention—he hired someone to vocally shape and “age” my delivery. Enter Dr. Candice M. Coleman.
Dr. Coleman holds degrees in speech and theatre and, in the early 1990s, held my career in her very capable hands. Over the course of several months, my St. Louis–based vocal coach became my phone pal, teaching me how to improve my vocal tone with proper breathing techniques for a richer sound. But perhaps the most impactful thing she taught me was how to draw out the meaning of the sentence based on proper emphasis and phrasing. These techniques are based on a book written by Nedra Newkirk Lamar and the Institute of Analytical Reading called Giving the Sense: How to Read Aloud with Meaning, first published in 1949 as How to Speak the Written Word.
Dr. Coleman worked ...