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Six-time Emmy award-winning journalist Mary Civiello met with Professor McCarthy’s MEDPL 283 Visual Storytelling students last week to help them improve their stand-ups and delivery when reporting the news.

Civiello, who was an NBC New York anchor for more than 20 years and now runs her own media coaching company, told students most people have an 8-second attention span, shorter than a goldfish’s, which is 9-seconds. “You need to keep doing things that feed the goldfish and get his attention,” says Civiello, who believes the key to an engaging delivery is what she calls the three V’s: visual, vocal and verbal cues.

Visual cues, which include your body language, eye contact, gestures and overall energy, are the most important of these three. “People form a first impression of you from what they see in just a few seconds, and it’s hard to change their minds after that,” Civiello says.

Vocal variety is also critical to connecting with an audience and refers to how you can use pitch, emphasis on certain words, and pacing to keep people interested in what you’re saying.

Verbal refers to the language you use. “It’s important to use some keywords, like ‘Here’s the bottom line’ to re-engage people who may have tuned out,” says Civiello, who has been dubbed Corporate Executive’s “Communications Guru” in the New York Times.  

CIviello also critiqued student stand-ups using these three categories and had them practice their delivery in class. She reminded every student to think about what they’re saying. “Stay attached to the meaning of your words,” Civiello says. 

Our Journalism Concentration & Minor

The Hunter College journalism program is offered as a concentration or a minor within the Department of Film & Media Studies. Its curriculum is built around production courses in journalism and analytical courses in media studies. Learn more about our course requirements.

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