How Are Web Presenters Recruited?
by Neil Davidson, Founder My Web Presenters
What are the characteristics of the best web presenters?
As a video production company we thought that it would be helpful for To Be Seen readers to get a behind the scenes view on how we recruit our presenters and also judge their abilities.
Being good at a job isn't just about skills and qualifications. It is also about your personal qualities and how you relate to other people. If an employee has a choice between two people who have the same level of qualifications and experience, they are going to choose the person who they think they will get on with most. This is of course highly subjective; one employer might completely love you for example, whereas you may completely fail to click with another. The key is to be able to be yourself whilst also being able to adapt and be appropriate with different people in different situations.
From our experience, there are particular attributes that make successful web presenters. These can be divided broadly into two categories. The first category is 'professional ability' which relates to how you carry out the role. The second category is 'professionalism' which is about how you conduct yourself in relationto the role.
As a web presenter you should come armed with a whole load of confidence. You need to know who you are and know what you are talking about - or at least have the audience believe that you know what you are talking about!
It is important that you are authentic and by this, we mean real and genuine. We all know what it is like to experience falseness from someone on screen. It is painful to watch and ultimately the audience can?t connect with those characters.
Be passionate and engaging
If you have chosen presenting as a career, then you should already have this in the bag. However, it is something that can be cultivated with practice and will grow the more experienced and confident you become. As a web presenter, you are the face of an organisation. Web presenters are used to achieve particular goals and the main goal is to engage the audience so that they are willing to listen for longer and stay on the website longer than they would have otherwise. Passion is essential. You need to take on the values of the organisation you are representing as if they are your own. It doesn't matter what it is, learn to love or at least to pretend to love it!
Come to any new role with some understanding of the industry and how you fit into it. If you don't get enough information when you apply for a role, ask for more, or research online.
For castings from sites like ToBeSeen it is really helpful if you have a corporate showreel. An acting showreel doesn't usually show what a corporate client needs to see. Just a very short example in a corporate setting is enough - see the My Web Presenters Gallery for examples (http://www.mywebpresenters.com/presenters.php). Without one it is difficult to tell what you will be like and means coming in for a screentest, which is only viable for big clients who are willing to pay for it.
If you don't have experience of working with autocue (a teleprompter), get some. It is essential as a web-presenter. You won't have time to learn most scripts and you will be expected to be able to read autocue. See the video below for some tips on polishing your autocue skills. Your goal is to not look like you are reading which is not as easy as it sounds. Practice practice practice!
Be reliable and punctual
Studio time is not cheap and when you are booked in for a 30 minute slot, you need to be there and ready to roll before that 30 minutes begins. Being late is not only inconvenient for the production team, you will also find it very inconvenient for yourself a) when you are rushed because you have less time and b) when you get offered less work because of a poor reputation around reliability. It is an industry where the concept of 'fashionably late' doesn't exist.
Be organised & prepared
Those of us who hire web presenters love nothing more than a presenter who is organised and arrives with clothes ironed, their hair and make-up tidy and men who are clean shaven (unless known otherwise that they won't be).
It is always a positive sign when a presenter responds to calls and emails promptly when arranging studio sessions. It shows that you are keen and organised and gives the impression that you will be reliable. This type of contact is going to make your first impression, before you have even met, so be aware of this and act accordingly.
All in all, you need some common sense coupled with great presenting skills. Both are equally important. Good luck!
Neil Davidson is the Founder of MyWebPresenters.com