FREE CHECKLIST: Tips to Inspire Viewer Trust and Loyalty

Live Shots and Standups


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CNN’s Clarissa Ward is a study in authenticity.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, this live hit featuring CNN’s Clarissa Ward went viral. Viewers were moved by her willingness to stop her narrative and help an elderly woman up the hill. It demonstrated a kind of empathy and authenticity they respect and value. But from a delivery standpoint, there is much more to Ward’s authenticity than the aid she rendered.


Because Ward’s delivery is so authentically conversational and the photographer works so seamlessly with her, it’s as if we are there with her and walking alongside her. We are somehow in the scene ourselves, as opposed to clinically observing it from a distance.

Ultimately, that’s what authenticity is all about – and likely why viewers value it so.

More From Our Coaches:

Fiona Conway

This is a very good example of a wonderful reporter. It’s not performative. It’s a genuine human who is really well informed and is able to telegraph that.

So an important message here is experience matters, and understanding the story is hugely important.  

You can’t fake this.


Kevin Benz

In our research, “emotion” is the term viewers use most to describe authenticity. I tell reporters that their emotional response needs to match the space, and Clarissa does this so well.

You can see and hear the concern and sadness in her demeanor. That is not bias. It’s genuine human care and emotion. Naturally, her voice, expression, and body all follow along with that authentic care… and she really shows it when she moves closer to the people who clearly need help.

She also uses “touchpoints.” While not actually touching anything, she sees and references: the bridge blown out, the people with their pets, the difficult terrain, that little scared-as-hell chihuahua dog in the arms of the owner – all images that can be independently jarring but work together in her hands to tell a story in a way that makes it hard to look away.

Just wow.

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Tips to Inspire Viewer Trust and Loyalty: Because the Stakes Have Never Been Higher

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