Saturday, April 4, 2015

4 tips on being successful on TV camera | NIDA

I just completed an 8 week TV presenting course at NIDA. If the truth be told, I didn’t have TV presenting on my radar as a course to must do. I enrolled in Musical Theatre originally as I felt like taking dance lessons to the next level but as the course was rescheduled, I was asked if I would like to enrol into a different NIDA Open course and TV presenting was one of the suggestions. Get me to write an article for my Blog at my desk and I have no problems doing that. But ask me to get up and present on camera, public speaking and thinking on my feet in front of an audience, that unfortunately doesn’t come naturally to me. Perhaps I’m being harsh on myself as you often do when you have to critically assess what you’re good or not good at. Anyway, I braved it and said 'yes' to an 8 week TV presenting course. I thought the course would naturally complement blogging, offering potentially another means of communication of my content.

I was off to a good start when I was informed to my surprise that our teacher for the 8 weeks was Benita Collings. For those of you who grew up in Australia, you may remember Benita Collings from ABC's Playschool. I grew up with Benita watching Playschool and I’m sure Benita played a key part in my childhood learning in language and English, having grown up in a family with parents where English is not the first language. So it was such a privilege to have Benita as our teacher for 8 weeks.

What I learnt is that it’s one thing being on your iPhone and communicating your message across on social media, but it’s another thing presenting in front of a camera. As a blogger, constructing a story is half way there to TV presenting. The other part is your delivery on camera. 

TV presenting at NIDA course taught me techniques such as breathing, controlling your voice, controlling your pace, ability to use autocue, thinking on your feet, working with a cohost, maintain eye contact with the camera eye and varying your style.

4 tips I learnt from Benita in NIDA’s TV presenting course:

#1 Preparation: Know your content, know your lines well. Start your preparation as soon as possible as cramming at the last minute doesn’t work.

#2 Breathe: This will help you to slow down. I’m sure there were times where I would have benefited having the words “Breathe” and “Pause” written underneath the camera.

#3 Be yourself. Think about which aspects of your personality that makes you different and think of ways in which you can reflect this in your presentation style.

#4 Learn by observation. There are many experienced TV presenters out there and one of the best ways to learn is by observing their style, the set, the camera crew if on location and everything around you.

What I loved about this course is that I could use the content I created on my Blog and transform it into a different communication medium. I think it was in the third week when I presented a restaurant review of a restaurant I had just been to. It went something like this:

"When you hear bacon festival at Cuckoo Callay, you'd be foolish to think it's anything like your traditional bacon and eggs. Dining at Cuckoo Callay is like a dream...a kookie one where chocolate coated bourbon bacon on waffles with ice cream is served. With its name inspired by Alice in Wonderland, Cuckoo Callay is now serving bacon of a different kind...And its Bacon Me Crazy!"

I also learnt that it was easier to present on topics you knew well and were passionate about.

Could I be blogging using TV medium one day. Who knows? Anything is possible if I put my mind to it! This course was challenging and an out of comfort zone experience. And with an Australian television icon and household name like Benita Collings as our teacher for 8 weeks, you will find the course truly inspirational and highly rewarding.

For more information of NIDA Adult courses, see their website for further details.


  1. Hi Jenny! Thank you for this article- I have been looking into taking a NIDA course this year and I found this very insightful.
    I am very keen to work with Benita, as children's performance is my specialty. Do you know if she takes all the TV presenting courses? Even the weekend intensive? I'd hate to pay/book (I'm in Brisbane!) only to find she's not the teacher!

  2. Hi Jemma, I'm not sure whether you have looked into the course further but I believe Benita still takes it. I will be seeing Benita again soon so can definitely ask. Best email or call NIDA too and they should be able to tell you. Jenny