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Wowcher Does TV Presenting @ The TV Training Academy

logoWe sent Hannah to The TV Training Academy to see if she had what it took to step in front of the camera…

Not being an overly confident public speaker, I accepted the challenge of attending a TV presenter taster course at 3 Mills Studios, Bromley-by-Bow, with the vague hope I might discover an unknown talent of being in front of a camera and become the next Holly Willoughby. Sure enough, it wasn’t to be, but what I got from this experience was something altogether different. I left feeling inspired, comfortable in my skin and empowered having enjoyed a full day with some incredible people in one of the most supportive and friendly environments I’ve ever come across. This is how it happened…

The Beginning
Upon arrival at 3 Mills Studios, I was warmly greeted by Helen Sheppard, our host for the day, who gathered together the flock and whisked us off to our workspace. After an introduction to her fantastic career as a children’s TV Director working on well-known programmes such as Playdays and the Tweenies, I relaxed a little knowing that I couldn’t be in better hands. We began by introducing ourselves and why we were there, which gave me a great insight into the breadth and depth of people a course such as this could help. The group comprised musicians and business owners wanting to improve their TV interview skills for appearances, writers wishing to take the leap into the world of video blogging, public speakers looking to create inspirational videos, individuals preparing for a new course and a small few who actually wanted to pursue a career in TV presenting. Basically, whatever you’re after from this course, it’s for you, and the opportunity to network is an added bonus.

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Now, down to the good stuff. We entered into a brief and informal discussion about what makes a good TV presenter, gathering lots of tips and advice from Helen ready for our first shoot. We learned the five golden rules of presenting (ooh!) and that the most important part is not the words themselves but their expression, which is perfect because if you mess up, and all of us pretty much did, it’s fine as long as you recover – phew! Next we readied ourselves for the first shot, and in 5 4 3 2 1… we spoke a little about ourselves remembering all we had learned, maintaining eye contact with the camera and staying well anchored. We then watched these played back on the screen and, yes, we all squirmed a little as we thought ‘do I really sound like that?’ but input from Helen and the rest of the team was vital for improvement.

Quick tip: The most successful people in this section didn’t list everything about themselves from their education to their favourite food, but spoke about a subject that interested them such as their business or their recent travels. Their passion came through and produced great results!

The Middle
After lunch, we got back to work and when entering back into the room the equipment had been moved and the teleprompter (aka Autocue) had been set up. Each of us glanced over the words on the sample guide we had been given, making mental notes of bits to look out for, as our host explained the exercise and how it all would work. Written as a mock TV show competition, we took turns to take the seat and after a practice run filmed our second performance. This exercise for me was easier, as I didn’t have to think about what I was saying, I was able to perform better. This task was great for those who might write a script such as a video blogger or motivational speaker, as it helped them to work on looking natural and thoughtful even when reading or speaking something premeditated. It was an excellent contrast to the morning’s activities, and gave an insight into the diversity of a TV presenter’s skill set.

logoQuick tip: When you glance over the sample on the back of your hand-out think about how these competitions might be done on TV, for example they might say ‘triple two, triple three’ instead of each number individually. Also, be sure to memorise words or phrases that might trip you up.

The end:
Our final task was co-presenting, which I had been dreading the most but was in fact my favourite of the day. We were told to split off into groups of two or three, decide what kind of show we wanted to be and then create an introduction feature which might advertise the show and make people want to tune in. I split off with a couple of other girls in the group and we decided that our show would be a beauty show with different features including ‘dirt cheap product of the week’, a ‘high-end to high street’ comparison of products and a food section talking about great foods for healthy skin. I think our sections were clearly defined, and the most successful ones did have a clear purpose for the different parts of the show such as an interview or cooking section. Again this part of the day was a lot of fun and everyone was noticeably at their best having taken on board constructive criticisms and encouragement throughout the day. Everyone was comfortable, happier to be the focus of attention and individual personalities really shone through. The improvement from the first exercise was very visible and it was great to see how each session enhanced individual performances. The format of the day really worked!

Quick tip: You might want to begin by introducing yourselves with a ‘Hello and welcome to… My name is…’ opening, then follow on with ‘Coming up on today’s show…’ and a list all of the features. Finally, finish off with something like ‘And that’s all coming up on channel X at 9’. This is how this kind of section tends to go so it’s a useful template to follow.

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Cut:
So, the day was over and we all left with smiles on our faces having had a great day! For those looking to purchase a showreel of their pieces, the first exercise was rerecorded to allow the opportunity to use your new found knowledge and experience to improve on your first attempt.

I left feeling that I could happily tackle a presentation or pitch. I even flashed back to my teaching module at university and thought I could tackle a lesson much more assertively now, which just goes to show that everyone can take something valuable from the day. In fact, those who were most out of their comfort zone got the most out of the day. At first it may have been hard but the day definitely helped them grow – some people arrived with virtually no confidence in themselves and left with a new-found quality to their personality that I don’t think anyone ever thought would be achievable in a short space of time. Definitely one to recommend… and that’s a wrap!

Fancy checking out the TV Training Academy Course yourself? Click here for the fantastic Wowcher deal valid at six nationwide locations. Please note – deals featured may not be live.

Wowcher gets a Traditional Shave @ Mr. Rizzo Grooming

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With winter drawing to a close and parts of his face untouched by sunlight for several months, March seemed a good time for Kaja to brave the barber’s chair and get a wash, cut and traditional cut-throat shave, courtesy of Mr. Rizzo in Covent Garden.

I was fourteen years old the last time I visited my local barber. My hairdresser laughed at my grey hair, shouted at me for having a weak neck and, despite my request to look like Freddy Ljungberg, gave me a hairdo commonly sported by national hero Pat Butcher. Safe to say, I was fairly nervous about sitting in the hot seat after ten years living in blissful ignorance of chatty men with scissors.

When I arrived at the ultra-modern salon on Upper St. Martin’s Lane, the first thing that threw me was Mr Rizzo’s magazine collection. New editions of National Geographic and New Scientist lay in amongst glossy gossip columns and lads’ mags. There was no six-month-old copy of Home and Garden, this was the real deal. After a few minutes pretending to read a magazine, it was my time to shine. I put on my man bib and I was ready for grooming. Read more

Great Scot!


On the 18th September, Scotland will cast their votes on whether they want to grab Alex Salmond’s jam-covered carrot or remain in the sweaty arms of David Cameron. Here at Wowcher we don’t judge, if you sell your vote on eBay, we don’t mind. We love Scotland and we just want her to be happy.

We’re not gonna lie, when Alan Hansen left Match of the Day, we lost something we never thought we had. The word ‘diabolical’ would never be so beautifully uttered by anyone else, certainly not by Shearer or Lawrenson. In the words of Joni Mitchell, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ so let’s celebrate Scotland in all its tartan wonder, whether or not they decide to go independent on September 18th.

Apart from feral goats in the highlands and news stories about men with their heads stuck in bins, Scotland is to be loved for many reasons. If you’re not sure why then thistle clear things up: Read more

Wowcher’s Guide To: Father’s Day Presents

First thing’s first, if you haven’t already, make sure you pencil 15th June in your diary now. Father’s Day has been celebrated around the world since its origin in the USA in the early 20th Century. It’s meant as a simple celebration of the bond of male parenthood and it’s a brilliant chance to say thank you to our dads by spoiling them rotten.

As well as making the effort to spend time with your dad on June 15th, it’s high time to think about a great present too. This is where Wowcher comes in. We present to you, the ultimate guide to picking a great present for your old man (hint, don’t call him old) this year…

Read more

Wowcher versus Tyson Fury Fight Night

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Boxing is like jazz. The better it is, the less people appreciate it.” – George Foreman

I have to agree with the lean, mean fat-griller-endorsing machine on this. Boxing to me is very much like jazz – I haven’t got a clue how it works, real fans of it seem near enough mythical and I would definitely not be all that interested in having a go. Aside from the knowledge I have gathered from the Rocky movies (i.e. none whatsoever), I was and still sort of am a virgin when it comes to this, brutal, cinematic spectacle. It doesn’t strike me as a contest for gentlemen like days of old, it’s more like a contest for modern men – not just men, but manly men. Men who like to hit each other in the face. Men who buy tigers and keep them in their homes, men with a penchant for shiny suits, fast cars and going bankrupt. Men.

But I figured a slightly gentler introduction to the sport would appear in the form of the Tyson Fury charity fight night – taking place in the famous Clapham Grand. A night where people would have a few drinks, watch some dedicated sportsmen respectfully do what they do best to each other, and have the proceeds go to a good cause. While it certainly wasn’t exactly gentle, it offered an altogether more charming side to boxing to which I hadn’t really ever been exposed. Read more

HOLI ONE Super-Colourful Saturday Batman!

No we’re not talking about a Saturday spent inside Frankie Dettori’s wardrobe, we’re talking about HOLI ONE Festival of Colour which is taking place all around the UK this summer.

Originally a Hindu celebration of harvests and fertile land, now an alcohol-fuelled rave in a UK park. Whatever the origin of this Holi festival, the spirit of bringing people together and revelling in the mid-afternoon sun is very much alive. Last summer we were lucky enough to get in amongst the powders at the iconic Battersea Power Station.

We arrived at the abandoned car park in Battersea dressed in our crispest white linens ready for our celebration of human togetherness. Once inside, we headed straight to the counter to stock up on bags of paint and then we were ready for battle. At 2pm sharp, the first countdown begun, everyone crouched down clutching their bags of blue, green, orange, yellow…3, 2, 1 and AAAAGH! Absolute chaos. Clouds of colour churned though the crowds attacking clothes and any open mouths or wide eyes. You just had to develop a taste for it as it was impossible not to smile. This process repeated itself every hour and as a result everyone became more and more indistinguishable. There was a short interlude for some traditional Indian dancing, then another countdown. People slowly realised the fun could be magnified if you mixed the paint with water and as the afternoon tired, so did the public. The regimented countdowns gradually degenerated into private paint pelting parties, big kids chasing each other around the concrete confines of Battersea car park with bottles of liquid paint. The day ended with Instagram absolutely saturated and most of Battersea looking like the crash site of two Dulux cargo trucks. A vibrant success. Battersea never looked so beautiful.

Wowcher Does Dotty Style

From the days of ‘What Not to Wear’ to the slightly more invasive ’10 Years Younger’, it’s a fact: the art of reinvention is always ‘in’. Yet, think of the words ‘colour chart’ and your mind will most likely conjure up dodgy shoulder pads and unforgivable yoga ensembles. I decided to discover just how far colour consultations have evolved since the Dulux days of the 80s…

Set in the Hilton’s London Metropole, I was greeted by a sprawling yet decadent 4* hotel. I’ll be honest, as someone whose sartorial inspiration is more Morticia Addams than Miley Cyrus, I was dubious about how my funeral-ready wardrobe would fare in the intimidating world of colour. Do the veins in my arms indicate a blue or yellow undertone? Am I fair skinned or just a victim of winter whitening? Enter Dotty… Read more

A night to (big) top all others…

 

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Most Friday nights tend to revolve around a few glasses of wine, but last week we put down the bottle and opted for an evening of back flips, bikes and a whole lot of nail-biting. Any guesses? Yep – the circus was in town and thanks to Wowcher, we rocked up eager for entertainment – and we certainly weren’t disappointed. Gerry Cottle’s circus boasts an impressive 50 acts in just 100 minutes, meaning the talented performers barely grabbed a breather in between high energy routines. From limbos of fire to impressive bungee aerobics, there was no end of variety on show, plus plenty of cringing from behind our hands as a single slip would have surely resulted in catastrophe. Our money was certainly well spent on an adrenaline-filled evening we won’t forget soon. Is it too late to re-train and run away with the circus?