Presenting is easy in principle, all you have to do is talk, how difficult can it be?! Well the answer, sometimes, can be very. You need to be compelling, composed and confident. You need to be relatable to your audience at all times and you need to learn to construct a link before you perform it on the air.
How are you going to start? Have you thought about where the link is going? How is the link going to end? And the most important question of them all, does anybody care about what you are talking about?!
You need to be totally honest with the answer to the last question, and if you think the answer is no, then don’t do it.
You may think that presenters simply turn up and say the first thing that pops into their head with no preparation, and some do. But the very best don’t. They know exactly what they are going to say, but they also have the ability to react to anything that is more off the cuff and unexpected. This is a unique ability and not everybody can do it. So plan and prepare what you are going to say, and more importantly, learn when to be quiet. Rambling on about nothing in particular is one of the biggest mistakes presenters make. Although you may think its fun for you, it can be boring for the listener and very quickly they can turn you off for somebody else who is more precise and entertaining in what they say.
Learn from a very early stage to not talk over songs. It annoys listeners. It might be their favourite song of all time and you are spoiling it by either talking over the start or talking over the end, and no doubt they will actually shout at the radio for you to shut up. Think of it this way, did an artist spend hours writing and recording a song with you in mind to talk over the start or the end? The answer is no.
Learn to sell. If you do end up working on a commercial radio station, then one of your jobs will be to sell/promote either a competition or another show on the station. You will do this by reading it off a piece of paper but the art is to sound like you are not reading it at all. It is very easy for presenters to sound like they are reading it and sound bored while doing so. If this happens then the impact of what you are saying is lost on the listener, so if you can learn the art of selling, then that will stand you in very good stead for the future.
You can only learn to do all of the above with practice, practice and yet more practice. This is where hospital/student/community radio is vital. It is the perfect platform for you to practice, gain experience and to fine tune your presentation style. You need to find out what kind of a presenter you are. Are you a presenter that is good at talking about yourself, your life experiences and funny little observations? Are you a presenter that is comfortable just talking about the songs you are playing? You need to find out what your comfort zone is, what your strengths and weaknesses are as a presenter and you will still need to work on both.
Listen to lots of different styles of radio presenters, both on local and national radio. Listen and learn from what you think sounds good and what doesn’t sound so good. Train your “radio ear”. The best presenters instinctively know what works on the air and what doesn’t. It's very important you don’t try to be the people you idolise, learn from them but also learn to be yourself. It can take years of work and practice to be yourself on the air but it is a lot better than trying to be somebody else.
If you are already on a radio station, hospital/student/community/internet then record every bit of your output and listen back to it and analyse it. What sounded good, what didn’t and get opinions from somebody else. It is vital that you can take constructive criticism and even more so if you can learn from it and improve your presentation style. If you do achieve a career in broadcasting then you will meet people whose job it is to listen to you and tell you what they like, what they don’t like and how you can improve.
And the most important tip, have fun on the air and enjoy it. You never ever know who is listening to you. On the day you have a bad day and you sound bored and fed up on the air could be the day a programme controller from another station is listening to you for the first time. Your show is your best time to shine and show off what you can do so make the most of it.