Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Media Training Workshop at Oasis Academy in MediaCity UK

Last night I attended a three hour media training session at the Oasis Academy in MediaCity UK, Salford. I was invited to the workshop by Henshaws staff, including Debbie Cowley from Marketing & Research, Louisa Walmsley from Fundraising and Andrew Rose, a member of the board of Trustees for Henshaws. The workshop was run by Chris Brophy, who co-founded and managed Salford City Radio and now runs his own station - Fusion Radio - as well as coordinating media workshops, specialising in radio and TV presenting.

We began by introducing ourselves to the wider group, which included two other people who also wanted to gain TV and radio presenting skills, and discussed how we would benefit from the evening's workshop. Chris then invited us to repeat the process, this time in front of a green screen with lighting and a camera! Our introductions were filmed and then played back to the group, so that we could experience what we would look like on the television and analyse which aspects of our presentations could be improved.

I must admit that I hadn't done any public speaking for 8 years before the session, so I was incredibly nervous - but I remembered to use regular hand movements, a change in pitch as I went through sentences and an even pace throughout my introduction. I kindly received applause at the end and was overwhelmed by everyone's kind feedback. This first exercise put me at ease for the rest of the evening and helped me to feel more confident with the other activities.

Chris went through some of the techniques used for television presenting, such as how to position the body, how to talk and engage the audience, how to use body language including hand movement and eye contact, and how to emphasise certain words in a script for added effect.

We then went back to filming after learning some of these new skills, and our performances vastly improved the second time. We were given a mock competition to read from an auto cue, though Chris kindly handed me the iPad with the script in large print with inverted colours, so that I was able to partake in the activity as well. I really had fun with the competition advertisement, and made it sound as vibrant and spirited as possible - as if it were to feature in an X Factor ad break! - and again, received such positive feedback from everyone.

After a tea break, we then moved onto the final venture of the workshop - radio presenting and interviewing! Chris introduced us to the equipment, which included a soundboard for mixing and fading sound bytes, jingles, advertisements and music, showed us the microphones, and explained briefly about a computer program called Myriad which controls the tracks being played, timing, and pre-programmed playlists. As there wasn't enough time for everyone to try out radio presenting, myself and Debbie were chosen to demonstrate to the group. Debbie was absolutely fantastic at presenting and enabled me to feel more confident and relaxed when answering the questions. We talked about my eye conditions, how I found out about Henshaws, how the service has benefitted me since I started using it last year, how I got into drawing and what advice I would have for other visually impaired or blind people. The interview was recorded and may be used in the near future.

I had an absolutely wonderful time and was so pleased with all of the feedback for my presenting performances and interview towards the end of the workshop. Everyone did a great job and I think we've definitely walked away feeling more inspired to do more media work in the future. I have two events lined up towards the end of the month with Henshaws - a Champagne & Chocolate evening and a Fashion Fundraiser - where I'll be giving speeches about my experiences with the charity and the service they have provided me. I was originally very nervous to start with, as I hadn't done any public speaking in such a long time, but last night's workshop really gave me the confirmation to do it and have fun at the same time!

A big thank you to Chris for the workshop and his wonderful comments both in the session and on Twitter, to Henshaws for inviting me along and helping me to vastly improve my confidence, and to everyone else in the group for making it such a lovely evening!