• Rashid Salleh

5 FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS ABOUT BEING A TV PRESENTER



There are many roads that lead to where you may be now but the main driver to that destination must be YOU. You are the only one who can ultimately choose that path and do remember to enjoy and experience the journey as well.


One such road led me to become a TV Presenter.


My never-ending curiosity of the entertainment industry has never ceased and with a growing network of contacts procured from it, the world of TV Presenting, pardon the pun, presented itself.


Plunging myself, as usual, into the unknown was something that I was uniquely adapt at and it was an adventure that took me to meet so many interesting people from various parts of the earth.

What started as a gig in mid 2000s as part of the revolving team of Presenters at The Breakfast Show (a live morning talk show) on ntv7 on one of Malaysia’s TV Channels , it opened the doors to sports TV presenting at SportsCenter, one of the most iconic Sports TV shows on the planet (for me at least!) at ESPN Star Sports, creating many memorable moments in my career. With the massive experience gained from that exceptional journey, I joined the fledging team at Astro Arena, then the first Bahasa Malaysia 24-hour Sports Channel on Astro Malaysia as one of the early presenters for the channel. I was also hired on a short-term stint to present the Bahasa Malaysia version of the AFF Suzuki Cup on Fox Sports.


It is very important to note this next statement. What I learnt during my time as a TV Presenter will differ from those who have worked in the same field. There are those who have vast knowledge and experience as a TV Presenter, and some are true experts at their jobs, and I have been lucky to have worked alongside some of these great characters and learnt so much from them. BUT coming from a different aspect of the industry gave me a different perspective of TV Presenting and that prior experience has been valuable in speeding up my learning process in this field.


Also, this topic is an extension of being on television. There will be other skills that you will need to learn to be in front of television, such as being able to speak naturally, not shouting etc. and these are soft skills that are taught at an early stage when you are introduced into the world of television. I may blog about this one day if there is sufficient interest on that subject matter.


And with that knowledge in hand, I gained these 5 fundamental truths about being a TV Presenter.


1. COMMUNICATE!

As a TV Presenter, how you communicate to your audience is crucial in delivering whatever information that you have been given. And because you have been trusted to convey that, you become the most important messenger to your audience.


Without being able to communicate verbally, physically or in writing, you may as well not be in this industry. For a TV Presenter, it is the most important tool in one’s arsenal as it requires you to able to speak with people and guests from all walks of life who, inescapably, will have contrasting styles of communications themselves. Some of which you may have to decipher and be capable to reply in similar language to be understood by both parties, as well as your audience.

Communication also differs when presenting on a talk show compared to a sports talk show. The format of the shows may be similar and apart from the obvious differences in topics, the way presenters communicate on these shows differ vastly due to a different type of audiences.


For example, from the way I opened the show on the morning talk show, generally, I was given leeway to be more jovial in my communication whereas there was a more serious and measured tone to the introduction on the sports talks show. Both shows, though, required an upbeat start so that I would communicate a positive outlook on our TV program. However, presenting as a newscaster usually required you to be neutral and without opinion. Yet, at different tv networks or broadcasters, there were differences as well.

Having strong public speaking skills is also a massive plus as a TV presenter because it can, no doubt, enhance your persona on screen as well as on site. TV Talk show presenters I’ve had the pleasure to work with like Nazrudin Rahman and Daphne Iking are prime examples of TV Presenters who are not only entertaining but have exceptional public speaking skills and persona who command their audiences both on and off screen. And that is only part of their communications repertoire.


But all in all, communication is key.


2. LISTEN!

As much as you need communication, listening is a skill that is as important.


It is one that I’ve acquired as an actor as well as being in a large family where everyone will talk over each other since you need to listen to the correct message in all that semantics!


Listen. Not hearing but listening.

As a TV Presenter, listening to your guest is crucial in understanding your subject matter. It is also a matter of respect to your guests that you are actively involved in the discussions and maintain the subject matter on hand. Sometimes, the conversation may veer away from the main topic and if you aren’t listening, you will either lose command of the interview or lose the interest of your guests as well as your audience.


Your guests will know if you are listening because they are the experts on the subject matter and if you lose their enthusiasm, you also lose their respect for you as TV Presenters.


3. KNOW YOUR SUBJECT

For you to be able listen to your guests and understand what they’re saying, you must do your research prior to the interview or talk. Even if it’s a last-minute inclusion or interview, it is imperative that you gather that information because if you are clueless on the subject matter it does look bad on screen when that happens. I know this because I, myself, have been guilty of that in my early years and it was not good for me nor the network I was working in. And, sometimes, it becomes damaging to your reputation as a TV Presenter.

Of course, there are times when a certain topic is not your forte. But there are ways to engage with your subject. For example, if you are not well versed in sports and your guest is a sports athlete, you may want to steer clear of the technicalities of the sport but interview the subject on their early involvement and interest and the other aspects of their journey in that sport. That way, you are still fully engaged with them and be respectful of the subject matter. There are many ways to skin a cat.

Knowing your subject, and this includes both your guest and the subject matter, would enhance yourself as a thorough and respectable presenter and more importantly, a wonderful human being.


One more thing. And this I learnt the hard way. When learning about your interviewee or guest, always ask them how to pronounce their names properly! Don’t be shy about it because for many people, their names are their calling cards and asking them about it will demonstrate that you are respectful of them. It’s a small gesture but powerful in the long term.


4. APPEARANCE

This is evidently obvious, especially when your job is to appear on screen, but I have observed several gaffes made by presenters (including yours truly) that has, inexplicably, been aired on TV for one reason or another.


This is not about what is acceptable on TV, for example, like wearing certain striped shirts or technical aspects that can be dealt with in the studio.

What I mean is that we have some creative control on how we will appear on TV. Even though, certain shows will have a look and feel to it, you as the presenter must be able to discuss this with your producer. At the end of the day, you will be the ones seen by millions as you are your own product as well.


It’s about grooming, make up & clothing choices. How often do I get my haircut? Can they see my dirty fingernails? Will the shirt make me look pale on television?


Remember, you are the face of the show, so it is equally important that audiences sees that you are representing the show physically as well.


5. IMPROVISE!

I can’t count the number of times when I have been caught by situations where I have had to improvise on TV as a presenter. And if not for my stage training as a comedian and improv lessons, I would have looked like a deer in the headlights.


This is a skill that must be taught, especially on LIVE television.

Many TV presenters will recount nightmare stories on how situations around them have occurred (teleprompter shuts down, audio problems, surrounding environment becomes chaotic... ) and how they’ve had to deal with the issues. You may have seen many of these memes and stories on social media.


However, being able to improvise when faced in these situations has taught me to control my surroundings whilst figuring out a solution to the ongoing problems. And one of the simplest solutions I’ve learnt when all else fails; just stand there and smile. Because sometimes, that’s all it takes to calm you down.


TV presenting is a rewarding job when you learn the basic skills and with these fundamental truths, it opens a door to a network of people that may give you a different perspective on life in general and some may end up a business partners and even become friends.


Every job is always a massive learning curve but would also mean a step in the right direction for your future endeavours. Being a TV presenter is one of those jobs.


And never be afraid to take the road less travelled.

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