Shopping Around

This week one of my TV presenting students was shooting a reel to send to a shopping channel. Choose a product you can relate to and record a 2 – 3 minute sell in the style of the channel you want to approach. To demonstrate that you can talk without the need for re-takes, don’t edit the presenting section. Shopping channels are live or as live, their producers want to know you can present in one simple take without losing structure or focus.

So, develop the knack of ad libbing about the product as you describe its key features and benefits. Demo the product and explain how it works. Lifestyle it –who would this product suit and why, know it inside out, be the expert. Look good – maturity is a plus for some channels, but grooming is key.

Live shopping channels use in-ear talkback to give timings to presenters. You can practise this at home by working with a friend giving you a countdown, or pre-record timings and play them back via headphones.

Watch one of my former students Marie-Françoise Wolff presenting Kipling bags on QVC to see how she connects with the product and structures the sell, with lots of energy, enthusiasm and product knowledge.

To read more about being a shopping channel presenter, see my book The TV Presenter’s Career Handbook, published by Focal Press.

The Reel Thing

Recently I was contacted by an experienced TV presenter, wondering why his showreel was neither helping him to gain momentum nor open doors. Beautifully shot and edited, the reel included a range of professionally presented items in too many genres. A triumph of style over content, the pieces to camera lacked originality as the generic scripts, written by the showreel production team, failed to convince.

It isn’t necessary to spend a fortune on a glossy product to make a reel that stands out. Your talent will leap out of the screen even if shot on a phone. Content is the key. Write scripts yourself, based on your passions, interests and expertise; self shoot and edit, or skill swap to create some video footage. Presenting is about being yourself, so engage with the viewer by making a reel with your fingerprint.

Agents and broadcasters frequently state that mobile phone showreels are acceptable because they are looking for potential. So, worry less about the finished product and spend more time thinking about the ideas. I have viewed dozens of ‘sausage factory’ reels that were so superficial or derivative they didn’t leave an impression; I can count on one hand the reels that were exciting – even if the sound wasn’t perfect – they were the reel thing.

 

5 top tips for your TV presenting career

It’s been a while – I’ve been busy writing my second book – and I’m thrilled to say it’s just been published! The TV Presenter’s Career Handbook by Focal Press is out now. It’s packed full with advice and interviews with TV presenters, agents and TV producers on how to carve a TV presenting career. Here are my 5 top tips.

Be yourself

You are unique so don’t try to copy other presenters. Create your own showreel material with content that shows your own personality and style. Producers want to find new talent, not poor versions of existing personalities.

Use your expertise

Do you have specialised knowledge or qualifications? Whether it’s finance or cookery, music or sport, interior decoration or wine tasting your expertise can open doors. Be the guest expert, the interviewee or presenter who has credibility in a subject and you’ll more employable.

Take control

No need to wait for job adverts, start presenting. Upload to YouTube, be the face of the company you work for, or add videos to your website. As camera equipment and editing software becomes less expensive and more accessible it’s easier than ever before to start presenting from home.

Create a digital footprint

Use social media but have something to say. Join sites that promote your skills, be visible and contactable. Seek opportunities to raise your profile, you can be the interviewee not necessarily the presenter and still make a splash. Producers are increasingly searching online to find new faces.

Get some professional training

There are plenty of short courses out there, and a few Universities teach TV Presenting. Find out what the industry expectations are by training with experts. Go for the courses that really teach you the skills.

Leap Tweets

As promised, although a bit late, here is a list of my 29 top tips for February 2012:

Tip 1 Rewrite CV include broadcasting, TV, radio, print, live hosting, scripting, think presenter not actor, no need for shoe or hat size!

Tip 2 Refresh your training: in many professions continuing professional development is routine. Should you check your presenter skills?

Tip 3 Personal grooming – think HD, widescreen, LED, home cinema – avoid embarrassing close ups, check hair, make up and nails

Tip 4 Invest in a video camera & tripod – practise talking to camera, record/edit showtape items, take control of your reel

Tip 5 Research presenting agents listed in Contacts, check their websites, who they represent and if they may suit you. Then, contact them!

Tip 6 Presenter photos should be professional, colour, with personality and warmth, not b/w or holiday snaps. See Spotlight Presenters

Tip 7 Free training – Apply for free tickets online to be in a studio audience and watch TV presenters at work

Tip 8 List your areas of expertise, what makes you different, what can you offer the presenting industry what’s your usp, presenting is you!

Tip 9 Research local TV stations, community TV, volunteer to present items, so much is happening locally, get involved, start broadcasting!

Tip 10 Read ‘So You Want to be a TV Presenter?’ packed with expert advice, tips, self-training, sample CVs, job seeking and showreel advice

Tip 11 Spotlight Presenters http://www.spotlight.com for membership, job info & advice. Emerging Talent section is really useful for newcomers.

Tip 12 Create a channel of your work – one of my former students Helen Hokin has done this brilliantly – see www.foodtripper.com/tv

Tip 13 Promote yourself as an interviewee, it’s a short hop from successful guest to presenter. Are you an expert? See
www.findatvexpert.com

Tip 14 Practise tongue twisters to improve diction and warm up facial muscles, free sites online – red leather, yellow leather ….

Tip 15 Update your technical skills for website, video clips and marketing, have a look at www.moonfruit.com

Tip 16 Can you ad lib for 2 mins or speak to time finishing just before zero? Set your stopwatch to find out & start talking to yourself ….

Tip 17 Listen to this excellent advice on TV Presenting from BBC College of Production CoP Show: TV presenting www.bbc.in/xqsUga

Tip 18 To practise reading from a prompt see http://www.cueprompter.com type in your script, set the speed and read from your screen

Tip 19 How multi-skilled are you? If you watch TV/work on laptop/when on a mobile you can talk to camera while listening to in-ear talkback…

Tip 19 cont’d …To practise talking to time, record a countdown and listen through your headphones whilst talking to camera.

Tip 20 Spotlight’s Emerging Talent section at the back of the Presenters book showcases new, up-and-coming presenters. Contact @SpotlightUK

Tip 21 Writing the perfect CV http://bbc.in/mZLptI – was going to tweet about HD make up as it’s pancake day, but here’s a CV tip instead

Tip 22 Continuing the CV theme www.prospects.ac.uk/example_cvs.htm

Tip 23 Can you memorise a 40 second script? Not every shoot will have a prompting device eg autocue, especially on location. Aim for 1 take!

Tip 24 Your showreel should be unique to you, shoot items you are enthusiastic about, show your expertise, write your own material, be you!

Tip 25 Max showreel duration 3-4 mins or a bit less, think BGT, impress in the first 30 secs or the rest of it may not be viewed

Tip 26 Three tips for an interviewer – listen, listen and listen.

Tip 27 To train as a weather forecaster see www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/recruitment/options/forecasting

Tip 28 If TV presenting is your career invest in your own professional moulded ear piece nickway.co.uk/earpieces/moulded

Tip 29 And finally … found an extra day in your calendar today? Read ‘So You Want to be a TV Presenter?’ publ by Nick Hern Books