The Spotlight, September 2012

Presenters Month Q&A: Your presenting career questions answered

27th September 2012

DonnaCoulling_300As part of Spotlight’s Presenters’ Month, we asked you to submit your questions about a career in presenting to experienced presenter Donna Coulling (right).

Donna has many years of knowledge in the industry from working with Channel 4 as well as working regularly as a presenter on QVC, through to coordinating her job as PA to many high profile Spotlight members.

Here, then, are your Presenter questions and Donna’s advice.

What tips would you give for a presenter who is just starting out on their career (from Shin Newman)

Firstly, try to gain as much experience as you can. This does not necessarily mean paid work.

Watch presenters on TV, the way they move their bodies, faces, how they use the camera then go out with a friend who can film you talking to camera and then watch it back and critique.

Secondly, try and put a showreel together so you have something to send to casting directors and agents. If you can, find your USP (unique selling point). I am also a celebrity personal assistant, which I have found to be my niche.

I’m an aspiring kids TV presenter. I have a generic showreel and have made a more specific one for kids. Have you got any advice on how I can break into the children’s television presenting sector? (from Stephanie Sen)

Ask Spotlight about specific agents for children’s presenters. Contact the production companies on kids’ shows you see yourself presenting on and ask if you can send through your showreel.

If you’re lucky (and it’s all in the timing) you could see if someone would meet for 15 minutes for a coffee and you could ask some questions about what they look for, making sure you’ve prepared them previously.

Where would you recommend training to become a presenter? (from Holly Reed)

If you are based in London, The Actors’ Centre run some great courses. It is very important to gain as much experience in filming and critiquing yourself and watching other presenters work.

A lot of production companies like presenters to be an ‘expert’ in something too – if you have a trade or skill, use it in your presenting.

Where can presenters find jobs and castings? (from Joshua Clayton)

Keep checking Spotlight, but also make sure you’re keeping in touch with any contacts and production companies you’ve met with and worked with before. You never know when they might be needing somebody with your expertise.

Also, having an agent will help with this, so try researching agencies who might be willing to take you on.

How can I get a job presenting on the shopping channels? (from Kyri Sahpiris)

You can try sending your details and a showreel if you have one to the head of on-air talent at each channel. I think they all audition throughout the year for new guest presenters.

Watch the channel and study the style then put together two minutes of your own footage on a showreel talking about a specific product that you are knowledgeable on.

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Do you think any specific degree course would help with getting into TV presenting? Or is it better to go straight into industry from school? (from Jessica Ayre)

I think the majority of presenters have just fallen into presenting from performing themselves, either on TV or radio. In my experience presenting comes from personality and that’s not something you are going to gain from a degree course.

You need to just try and gain as much experience as you can, whether it be presenting at local stage shows, hospital radio or putting together showreels of your own, interviewing people on the street.

You’ll know in yourself when you start to gain confidence, what works and what doesn’t. Be honest when you play it back and critique, considering both the negative and the positive. Work on what works and smooth out the other parts.

How did you get your first presenting role, are there auditions or is it just based on previous work andor qualifications? (from Jessica Ayre)

My first presenting role came by accident. I went for an interview thinking I would be consulting on a TV job and they put me on camera and I got the job.

I had trained as an actor at Italia Conti years before and had various theatre roles but never any TV. I hadn’t performed for 10 years when I got the job and was working as a celebrity personal assistant. Fortunately for me this became my USP.

I learnt on the job, realizing instantly that it was something you absolutely learnt to do on your feet – you have to be quick-witted and ready to accept anything that comes your way.

Give time to anyone you’re interviewing, don’t talk over anyone else, look animated, friendly and be knowledgeable in the subject you are talking about.

Good luck!

You can follow Donna on Twitter @DCPAGirl. You can find out more about her work atwww.donnacoulling.com

This Q&A was part of Spotlight Presenters’ Month – our month of seminars, advice, articles and offers for Spotlight Presenters.  To find out more about Presenters’ Month, please click here.

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