"Skills for the TV Presenter"

What do you have to do to be a good TV Presenter? Take a look at any Presenter you like and think about why you like them. The reasons are probably quite simple –

  A. You like them as a person
B. You always understand the points they are making
C. You are interested in them and the way they relate to subjects and people
D. You are interested in the subjects they explore.

If a producer is going to hire you as a Presenter they will do so because they believe an audience will relate to you in the same way you relate to the Presenters you like.

The way you present yourself to your audience is the key to being a successful presenter. How do you do this successfully?

Circling the Key Words
Initially this old fashioned technique, which was born in the early days of radio, is very little help in achieving any of those goals listed above. To the experienced performer this approach may be of use for they already have the techniques in place to achieve the fundamental goals and are using the circling of words to help clarify their thoughts. But for an actor who is just beginning to build skills as a presenter it can be catastrophic. Why?

Circling words may be useful if you are doing a hard sell and trying to push your audience into taking your offer of an extra set of steak knives. But will they like you? It may be useful in helping your audience understand the point you are making but will they be interested in the way you relate to your subject. (Circling key words in your delivery tends to make them stand out with mechanical emphasis – any sign of mechanical speech distances an audience from the speaker.) And it seldom leads to the audience understanding your interest in the subject.

On that count this method is most likely to achieve at best 25% of your listed goals. That’s not a very high percentage return.

Useful Skills
Being liked as a person … If a producer has hired you to be a Presenter they have done so because they like who you are. Therefore your most important task is to continue to be yourself while you are in front of the camera. There are a number of simple skills that enable you to do this. The first and most important one is maintaining a satisfactory level of relaxation. However, if you are too relaxed then you won’t look like you are interested in or engaged with your subject. Finding a balance between these two elements is simple but it requires understanding and practice.

Being clearly understood … Audience understanding is achieved through a number of elements. Psychologists have analyzed communication to be based on the following factors –

  Words - 7%
Voice - (tone, speed, breathing, level, pitch) - 38%
Body Language - 55%

The words are only a very small part of it. (So, beware those circles.) That doesn’t mean that clear articulation isn’t a fundamental skill, of course it is. But even so clearly articulating something is only part of the communication. So, what are the other ingredients?

Being interesting … This is a goal that is a very confusing. Teachers of old will recommend bringing ‘light and shade’ to your delivery. This will affect the tonal quality of your vocal responses and therefore could have a 38% effect on the outcome. Certainly a monotone is not engaging or interesting BUT making one word sound different to the previous one isn’t very interesting either. Presenters who force light and shade onto a piece generally sound contrived and disconnected from their subject and their audience. Boring!!!!!!!

There is a simple trick to achieving this goal – DON’T BE INTERESTING, BE INTERESTED. If we like you and you are interested in a subject then we will be interested in it too. We will be interested to discover what interests you. If you are genuinely interested in your topic and want to share your interest with us then your delivery will have a natural energy, which will radiate your unique individuality and be totally engaging. It will also have a rich variety of vocal textures arising naturally from your enthusiasm and interest in the subject.
This way you are not only interesting but you also enhance the clarity of your communication.

Presenting interesting subjects … Researching your topic and having a good sense of its story value is an essential skill for a presenter. Sometimes this is really simple requiring only commonsense and sometimes it requires a lot of hard work. A Presenter is the audiences guide through a topic. The Presenter is in control of the storytelling and being able to discover, understand and relate to the essential ingredients of the story is a fundamental skill for the presenter. Any subject can be turned into an interesting story.

Acquiring Skill
It makes sense that skill is the result of understanding and experience. Skill is not something you acquire over night. It takes time to acquire the knowledge and practice the performance techniques.

When Jules Lund first came to The Rehearsal Room he already had been offered some work but had turned it down. “I don’t want to be a ‘flash-in-the-pan’. I want to know what I’m doing when I get out there,” he told me. From that point Jules did 12 months work at The Rehearsal Room. He worked hard attending other classes in presenting and voice over skills. Finally, with considerable confidence based on his efforts he put together a show reel and set about getting work. Jules Lund’s success was not an overnight lucky break. It was the culmination of a well-planned and well-executed campaign.

In retrospect that show reel now probably looks like the work of a newcomer – for that’s what it was. However, it clearly demonstrated that Jules could deliver all those fundamental goals. It also clearly demonstrated the huge effort he had made to acquire his skills and it gave a number of clear looks at his uniquely individual personality. That’s what got him his first job interviews.

Your Unique Value
What most aspiring TV Presenters don’t recognize is that we all have uniquely individual personalities. The real task is to acquire the skill to reveal and share that personality with your audience.

Rehearsal Room TV Presenting Workshops set you on the path to acquiring a useful functional understanding and skill level. There are no promises of premature show reels and instant fame. At The Rehearsal Room you work on skills that will set you on the pathway to professionalism.

December 2007

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