By Andy Beaubien, BPR
What ingredients make a good presenter? Some people might answer that a presenter should have a pleasant sounding voice. Although a good voice is desirable, many successful presenters do not have great voices. However, most have something to say! Good presenters are knowledgeable and are not confined to a narrow range of subjects. It is not sufficient to be familiar with the latest pop stars nor is it sufficient to be able to only talk about sport. Presenters with a narrow range of interests are handicapped and their growth potential is limited.
Talented presenters are most often people who read a lot. They are voracious consumers of information. Their interests are broad and although they may specialize in one or more areas, they are not afraid to reach beyond their areas of specialty.
So how does one expand one’s knowledge? Should a university education be a job requirement for radio presenters? Not necessarily. Today’s world abounds in information. Knowledge is no longer confined to books and periodicals. The Internet is an inexhaustible source of information from the most profound to the most trivial. Of course, this deep well of information needs to be used with a considerable discretion. However, when it comes to the acquisition of information, a good filter has always been a vital tool.
Great presenters are curious. They do not want to be confined to what they already know. As children we are naturally curious but as we grow older, our curiosity may be dampened by the stresses of life. Many of the most talented presenters have that child-like curiosity. They are information sponges.
The ability to be spontaneous is a basic requirement for anyone who wants to do live radio or, for that matter, any other type of live performance. Presenters who can “think on their feet” are far less likely to be caught off guard when faced with the unexpected. Presenters who are good at interviewing celebrities, political leaders or their own listeners have the ability to respond clearly and quickly. In some ways, live radio is like surfing. Staying on top of the surfboard requires the ability to constantly adjust to the flow of the waves below. Good presenters have the ability to guide a conversation. More often than not they have a good response and are rarely at a loss for words.
Over the years, I interviewed hundreds of on-air candidates seeking to further their radio careers. The ones who turned out to be the most successful were the ones who were curious and knowledgeable about the world around them and eager to talk about it.