It's somewhere between a journalist and a celebrity. Television show hosts are the face in the family living room of everyone's favorite news, science, health, sports and entertainment shows. If you have an ever-curious intellect, a friendly personality and an ability to talk to just about anyone, this high-profile job might be the one for you. Getting there takes some skills, hard work and sheer luck.
Degrees of Success
As with most jobs, a degree is the ticket you need for employers to take you seriously. While there are no degrees in television hosting, some degrees will be more helpful than others. Top choices include degrees in communications and journalism, while other helpful ones can be drama, media or social sciences. Make sure you have some coursework in public speaking. Depending on the type of host you want to be, you may need specialized knowledge such as history, political science or natural science.
Hard and Soft Skills
TV show hosts need a combination of soft skills and technical skills. Soft skills include self-confidence, a clear voice, interpersonal skills, improvisation skills, the ability to work calmly under stress, the ability to think and speak quickly. You adapt to new information as soon as it presents itself. You are prepared for surprises and can continue to talk even while processing. Your curious mind is supported by verbal mastery of such skills as listening, leading conversations and being able to ask incisive questions. You also need to have teaching skills, as you will be teaching your audience while leading guests through their topic of expertise. Technical skills include a basic knowledge of television terminology and operating procedures, the ability to keep presenting while hearing instructions through an ear piece, working with a teleprompter and the ability to operate sound and video equipment.
Part of what you need can't be learned in school or on the job: You have to be you and you have to have a great personality. "To be a good host, you need to be very comfortable in your own skin," said television host Suzanne Sena, quoted in a Backstage.com article. "It's vital that you feel confident and comfortable, so that you can then make your audience or on-camera guests feel comfortable as well. They will feed off your energy -- or die by it." She recommends having a natural curiosity and a genuine interest in talking to people. You need to express your personality through your language skills, such as pronunciation and enunciation, and through the way you move. Use your whole body to communicate.
No Substitute for Experience
Television hosting is a competitive field and you're not going to get in without some experience. Start by building a network of contacts through media and broadcast associations. Offer to host as a volunteer for non-profit organizations that are having television broadcasts for fundraisers or other events. Volunteer for community cable or educational shows to gain experience. Many local access stations will accept non-profit shows that you could host. Apply for internships at television stations, especially local ones. Make a newsreel of yourself that is two to three minutes long and shows your hosting skills and personality. Send this newsreel on CD, DVD or via email to broadcasters, producers and agents. Another option is to work your way up by getting another job at a television studio and letting your boss know what your career goals are.