Geeks, Boffins and Experts

Being a geek is cool – it’s also a sure fire way to get near the top of the TV presenting pile. If you are an expert without TV presenting experience you can get training and interest an agent. If you’re a general TV presenter without an area of expertise you can spend months trying to be seen.

We live in the age of the TV expert. Whether it’s on niche channels or mainstream, experts give authenticity to a production. Just look at how many current presenters have qualifications and/or life experience in the genre they are working in. Celebrities and known faces are being outnumbered by specialists, buffs and boffins.

If you’re a female expert you’re even better off. In recent years BBC schemes trained up a widening pool of talented women media experts from Economists to Engineers, Art Historians to Scientists, and there was a BBC training scheme earlier this year for BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) women experts.

TV and media researchers seeking experts can only offer you work if they know you exist. Be visible. Accept invitations to speak at public events, present conferences, write articles, be interviewed for print, video or radio. Upload your details to websites used promote experts such as findaTVexpert.com, beatvexpert.com, thewomensroom

But, sincerity in performance is still key. You need to be passionate about your area of expertise, don’t become an expert just because you’ve read it can help your career, be the expert who loves being the expert, the boffin or the geek!

Strictly Success

Joanne Clifton & Kathryn Wolfe, April 2015As a tutor it’s so rewarding when one of your students achieves success, and it has just been revealed that the multi talented Joanne Clifton is to join the presenting team of BBC’s It Takes Two. Joanne, World Champion Ballroom dancer and pro-dancer on Strictly Come Dancing will be a regular dance expert on the Strictly chat show this Autumn, as well as performing in the Strictly series.

When Joanne attended my course Get into TV Presenting at The Actors Centre last summer she was clearly a bundle of talent. She was training in acting, singing and presenting after achieving World class in dancing, aiming to launch herself in a new direction. Appearing on Strictly last year, along with her brother, ‘Kevin from Grimsby’, it was quickly apparent that Joanne could present as well as dance – she was discovered!

TV Presenting is an extension of your own personality, it shouldn’t be fake or an acting performance. You need to confidently talk to the camera, to engage with the viewer. The skills can be taught quickly, and then it’s practise. Joanne’s dance background meant she could connect with the audience, and she combined this with her cheeky personality and sense of humour.

The 2-day course taught Joanne the basic presenting skills of talking to camera, speaking to time, interviewing, being interviewed, walking and talking, vox pops and reading Autocue. Almost immediately Joanne found herself being interviewed for Channel 4, and she performed brilliantly.

Feeling that TV presenting could be her new career Joanne followed up her initial training with personal coaching with me, and is now confident enough to hold her own on mainstream BBC. It all started with a weekend course. Who knows where it will end?

There’s plenty more info on my website and in my books, The TV Presenter’s Career Handbook published by Focal Press, and So You Want to be a TV Presenter? published by Nick Hern Books.

 

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