Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The reason behind left/right positioning of news presenters is already familiar to savvy business presenters – and magicians!

A so-called ‘row’ has blown up, or perhaps more accurately being stirred up by the media, over Dan Walker, the new boy at BBC Breakfast being positioned on the left of the screen – the position usually reserved for the more senior presenter. Louise Minchin, meanwhile, with ten years service on the show retains her position on the right.

There has been much debate about sexism, but very little in the way of explanation as to why the left-hand seat – from the audience’s point of view - is the favoured position.

My regular readers are probably ahead of me on this one because I have often discussed Rule 6 of the Rules of Magic: Attention tracks from left to right, then settles on the left. The reason for this is that in Western cultures we read that way. 

So just as Paul Daniels, for instance, would always position himself to the left of his props and Debbie McGee (as this a sexism debate I have omitted her traditional prefix), I advise business presenters to position themselves to the left of their screen (audience’s view). That way, the audience looks at the speaker, moves their glance to the screen, before returning naturally to the left. So as to take advantage of this I also urge business presenters to carry long leads and gender changers with which to join leads.

I write this in the late evening, intrigued as to how things will look on the BBC Breakfast sofa in the morning!

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