TV Presenter training – not just for TV presenters

One thing I love about teaching TV presenting is the range of people it attracts. On my last course at The Actors Centre, which was fully booked, there were two Dancing on Ice professional skaters, a Reuters journalist, musical theatre actor, former actor working in events, IT consultant, blogger, and marine engineer. They all had different reasons for attending, with mainstream TV presenting not necessarily being the end goal for all of them.

Certainly, I’ve trained people who’ve gone on to have high profile TV presenting careers including Seema Jaswal Sports presenter BBC and ITV, Julia Chatterley financial reporter/anchor CNBC, Bloomberg and now CNN, David McClelland Tech broadcaster on BBC’s Rip Off Britain and Watchdog, Sita Thomas children’s presenter Channel 5’s Milkshake, Louise Houghton presenter Euromaxx for Deutsche-Welle TV and Marie-Francoise Wolff, Kipling bags brand ambassador QVC.

There are dozens more of my former students who’ve achieved success using their presenting skills online such as Asian Media Awards Finalist presenter/writer Momtaz Begum-Hossain @the_craftcafe, flower expert Rona Wheeldon @flowerona, vegan cook Suzanne Kirlew @kirleysueskitchen, storyteller Lucy Walters at lucywalters.uk.com, Dr Clare Lynch businesss writer, udemy.com and Matthew Bellhouse Civil Engineer, winner Fleming Award for Best Presentation at The Geological Society.

People use TV presenting training in all kinds of ways, not always for TV, to build up their brand, vlog, make marketing videos, create their own content channels, to speak to camera with confidence and understand professional expectations.

TV Presenter training can help launch your media career and enable you to speak to your audience wherever it might be. There are people who are confident enough to start broadcasting to the world from their kitchen table, some with huge success, but for others it feels better to get some expert feedback and learn how to get it right before you do.

Kathryn teaches TV Presenter training in Covent Garden London at The Actors Centre and City Lit, and in North West London for one2ones.

 

 

 

Acting v TV Presenting

Many TV presenters come from an acting background or combine acting careers with presenting. What’s the difference? Acting is taking on a persona, getting under the skin of another character, portraying someone who is not you. TV presenting is being you, don’t try to be someone else or act the role of being a presenter.

Acting for camera teaches ‘Don’t look at the camera (unless a soliloquy)’, but TV presenters should look at the camera to engage with their audience. Actors can have weeks of rehearsal time, TV presenters rehearse just before the recording/transmission. Actors are almost always given a script, presenters may get a script or work from bullet points, research notes, a brief or just ad lib. Actors usually have a wardrobe department, presenters often wear their own, but on some bigger jobs I have known presenters to be given a budget or stylist, it  depends on the production.

There are transferable skills between acting and presenting, similarities and differences but if you are having a bad day in either profession, you will need to draw on your performance skills to keep it professional. Is presenting acting? Well, just a bit …..

More tips in my blog and book

https://www.nickhernbooks.co.uk/so-you-want-to-be-a-tv-presenter

From Musical Theatre to TV Presenting

I often teach TV presenting skills in theatre schools and recently I was delivering TV presenting workshops at a musical theatre school. On-camera drama training for actors emphasises ‘do not look at the camera’, ‘be in character’. With TV presenting it’s the opposite, ‘look at the camera’, and ‘be yourself’.

Some actors find this liberating, a chance to show their personality, others find it exposing. It’s all about confidence, talk to camera as if this is the most natural communication possible, without revealing the inner stress you may have.

Musical theatre actors, usually full of confidence, can find it challenging to create a natural performance for TV. It helps to think of your audience as one person, not a full auditorium, have a conversation with your viewer, be warm, but no jazz hands!

Next TV Presenting course with me is 23rd/24th September, The Actors Centre, Covent Garden, for non-members, all welcome, not just musical theatre! Limited places available.

From print to video

I frequently work with companies who are moving from print to video, from written reports to presenting/producing TV programmes for clients and a wider audience.

Understandably, even highly professional experts can feel out of their depth in the unfamiliar world of making TV. My advice, based on 25 years of TV directing and 15 years teaching TV presenting is to keep your target audience in mind, avoid jargon, and make it conversational. Talk to the camera as if you are chatting to one person at a time, be warm and friendly, and look down the centre of the lens to connect. Less is more, short bite-sized chunks of info that can be viewed on a mobile in the back of a taxi may get more likes than long form programmes. The language of TV is images, use anecdotes and real examples to bring your content to life and make it memorable. A dark suit, acceptable in a corporate setting, can look dull on camera, add some colour, look groomed and smile!

Energy Tips

What kind of energy do you need as a TV presenter? I don’t mean energy to go to the gym, or jog around the park, but on-screen energy.

If TV presenting is being You, then just be your everyday normal self in front of the camera and you’ll be presenting. Right? Well yes, but there is some value in TV presenting as if you are the host of a dinner party, with a bit more oomph than in real life and a twinkle in the eye.

Too little energy, and your performance could be dull; too much energy and you could be OTT (over the top) and irritating to the viewer. So, how do you know what level of energy is right for TV?

You need to use your judgement, because in the world of TV you may not get director’s notes. Prepare beforehand by recording your work to camera and playing it back on a large monitor to evaluate your performance. Does it seem sincere, are you shouting, are you making distracting facial expressions, is the performance engaging, or flat and boring?

Unlike theatre, in TV there is no need for larger than life facial or vocal performance. Unlike public speaking, in TV you should not be casting your gaze around the room. On video/TV you are only speaking to one or two people at a time, via the camera, so speak to them as if they are positioned where the camera is.

Over the years I’ve trained hundreds of different presenters, and have identified two opposites in on-screen energy (as a generalisation of course). Actors from musical theatre often have performances that are too big for TV; they are used to reaching out to their audience, to be seen and heard at the back of the amphitheatre. What works on a musical stage does not necessarily work within the confines of the video screen, and I usually find I ask them to tone it down, to do less.

On the other hand, people from management consultant backgrounds often deliver video performances that are flat – perhaps because they’ve been trained to reduce the emotion in their performance, keep a neutral expression and take the heat out of the situation. Here, I often find myself asking presenters to raise their energy level, to do more.

When practising TV presenting you need to apply the right energy to the situation, for example, Newsreading and Children’s presenting require very different energy levels. But, as a general rule, on TV and video take care not to be too musical theatre or management consultant!

 

 

How to talk to a camera

How can you talk to a camera and make it seem real? A camera is just plastic and electronics on a tripod, so what can you do to make your performance natural? Imagine the camera is a person.

Your job is to connect with the viewer through the lens, so if you imagine the camera is a person, your performance will be sincere.

Who should you imagine? It can be your best friend, your mum, or a typical viewer. If you’re presenting a shopping channel imagine someone at home who is watching the channel, if you’re presenting a pre-school TV show imagine talking to a four year old on the sofa.

How do we watch TV? Usually on our own, or with another person, so when speaking to camera, talk to one or two people max. Even if hundreds, thousands or millions are watching your video, they are in their own space, not all crowded into one room. Make it personal and the viewer will relate to you, they will think you are talking to them individually and you will create a bond through the camera.

The same goes for radio. We tend to listen in the bathroom, in the car, doing the ironing or through headphones … again it’s the same rules as for TV. If you’re presenting a radio show imagine talking to one listener. Some radio presenters place a photo of their mum, boyfriend, or girlfriend by the mic to help them talk to one person they have in mind.

The language you use reflects this approach. If you’re on stage presenting a public event you might say,

‘Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen’.

If you’re hosting a children’s birthday party, you might use,

‘Hello girls and boys’, or ‘Hello everybody’.

But when talking to camera address the individual –

‘Hello and welcome to the show. It’s great to be with you again and I’ve got a fantastic line up of guests for you to enjoy this afternoon.”

It’s about being relatable, connect with the camera so the viewer can connect with you.