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A skill is for life, not just for Christmas

TV presenting - learn a new skill

When you left school or graduated from University did your inner voice say – "Right that’s it, I’m never reading a book or attending another lecture again!" I have to admit, I felt like that, then. But now, as each year passes, I grab the opportunity to learn a new skill. For decades I have danced adult ballet and tap here and there, but as the years fly by, I’ve found myself doing lots more, currently around 10 hours of dance per week. My routine includes Saturday morning zumba and ballet barre, Sunday morning ballet, ballet barre and ballet technique, on weekdays American tap, more ballet, and, new for me, Argentine tango. The more dance I do, the more I get into it – and my jeans!

Of course, I am never going to be a professional dancer. The performance in my head is brought back down to earth with a crash as soon as I glimpse myself in the dance studio mirror. I’m not deluded, nor living the dream, but dance keeps me on my toes with fast choreography to learn and challenging techniques to master. Dance teaches good posture, performance energy, and how to own the space – all transferrable skills to presenting and public speaking. Having to put your best Nike Lycra legging foot forward and dance across the studio individually builds confidence, nowhere to hide, just do it.

Recently I’ve been adding to my repertoire, studying skills more closely aligned to my #tvpresenter training business. I’ve taken intensive courses in #vocaltechnique #usingyourvoiceassertively and #publicspeaking. I already felt happy in these areas, but I gained feedback from expert coaches @citylit, enabling me to practise what I know and discover what I didn’t know. Good vocal technique is an essential #presentation skill including breathing, relaxation, posture, diction, clear speech, projection, sustaining the breath, resonance, pitch and tone. In public speaking you practise speaking to a crowd, being spontaneous, being planned, being in the moment, and getting your message across confidently. These courses have made me a better presenter.

Voice over

Now I’m very excited to be learning a new skill – voice over. Introduction completed before Christmas, I’m about to start the Improvers course! I’m stretching myself into previously uncharted territory, in particular character voices for animation and radio, audio books, narration, radio commercials and audio guides. I’ve learned good mic technique, and importantly an understanding of my personal voice quality and character. And I’ve recently completed my first paid voice over gigs! At times I feel like my own students must feel, pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, and it’s great. Freeing yourself from inhibitions reminds me of the warm feeling I get when I take bags of items to charity – literally letting go of the baggage.

Adult learning

Continuing professional development, CPD, is not new. Many industries and professions expect and encourage employees and freelancers to keep up to date, polish their skills and keep improving by attending courses and gaining new qualifications; dancers, athletes, musicians, singers, actors do daily classes and top ups. Never feel you know everything there is to know in your particular field.

City Lit, The Actors Centre

Research shows that acquiring new skills keeps the brain growing, so don’t be content to stand still, keep growing as a person. What skills are you learning this year? Which new skills will take you where you want to be? I’m running a series of new TV presenting courses at City Lit and The Actors Centre in 2020, from beginners to auditions, and you may find that paragliding or home baking helps to make you a better presenter! You’ll only find out by trying ….

See my website for full list of TV presenting courses, I hope to see you!

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