For live feature stories, props are a must. Props visually enhance the story. Instead of watching an ordinary talking head, viewers are entertained by a visual.

Bringing props into a feature story adds another element to the story. Viewers see the reporter holding, wearing, or using a prop, making the scene more active.

It’s more interesting to watch because the reporter is doing something. They are holding that free cup of coffee the local coffee shop is giving out, they are petting the cute puppy that is up for adoption, or playing a carnival game at the county fair. All these situations are more visually appealing than watching a reporter describe these things while the photographer films the scene.

The reporter becomes more involved with the story when they use props, bringing another dimension to viewers. The story becomes more realistic to viewers when they see they can participate in what the reporter is covering.

Cory McCloskey‘s feature story on archery demonstrates how to successfully employ props:

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McCloskey holds the bow for viewers to see. He looks it up and down so the audience focus is on the bow. By focusing on a tangible aspect of the story, McCloskey diverts attention from himself, and directs it to the event he is covering.

Viewers like visuals. A talking head does not always keep the audiences’ attention.

He then feels and holds what is called the trigger and later shoots the bow and arrow. By actively using props, McCloskey makes the story more realistic to viewers because they can see what McCloskey is explaining.

The viewer feels more engaged with the story because McCloskey is making his words come to life through actively using props.

Using props also makes the storyteller more conversational.

In Heather Ford’s live-shot The Wonderful World of Paintball, Ford dresses in paintball gear, making her more personable.

Because Ford is willing to wear paintball gear and even join a game, she is no longer a serious reporter, but an ordinary person, with whom viewers can better relate. She probably got better interviews too, because the paintball participants viewed her as a friendly out-going person who they are more willing to talk to, rather than an intimidating reporter with a camera.

By wearing the paintball gear and shooting the gun, Ford makes the story more visually entertaining. She is no longer a spectator, but puts herself into the story, making it more interactive.

The bottom line is, use props when possible. Imagine if these two reporters didn’t use props and simply pointed to their surroundings. Actively using props in live feature stories adds visual entertainment, making it more enjoyable for viewers to watch.