Clare Balding’s top tips
TV presenter Clare Balding visited the Eastbourne campus on 23 April. She told budding sports journalists at the School of Sport and Service Management: “Do your homework.”
At a packed lecture theatre, the writer and broadcaster said “prep’” was absolutely essential.
“The foundation of your knowledge is the one thing you will fall or grow by. If you don’t know what you’re are talking about or what you are watching you will not be able to interpret properly, you will not be able to ask the right questions and if you rock up to do an interview with somebody that you haven’t researched you will sound like a &*%!.
“Don’t ever go to anything unprepared. You have got to at least have a basic understanding of what it is you are there for, who you are talking to, what you are watching.”
Clare, this year’s guest at the university’s Annual Sport Journalism Lecture at Hillbrow, Eastbourne, was introduced by Jed Novick, Sports Journalism co-course leader. He described Clare as a “bona fide national treasure”.
Clare entertained the full house with anecdotes and words of advice for the university’s sports journalism students in the audience.
She said: “Homework is hugely important. I think passion is really important as well. You have got to care. You have got to love it.”
Good broadcasters, she said, draw people in and make them want to listen. She advised: “Be bold enough to have your own voice” and “take a few risks along the way”.
Clare showed clips from her BBC TV series ‘The Clare Balding Show’ to illustrate how to get the best from sports personalities. Half the battle, she said, was letting the stars speak and not interrupting them.
The inventor of athlete Mo Farah’s famous ‘mobot’ signature, Clare said finding ways of letting stars tell stories was the key to a successful interview. The 2012 Olympics, she said, was the highlight of her presenting career and her key moment was interviewing Bert Le Clos, father of South African swimming gold medallist Chad.
“All I did was hold the microphone. I did not do anything else. The one thing I have learned in 20 years in television and radio is sometimes say nothing. Don’t interrupt or say anything funny.”
That intimate interview, she said, was all about heartstrings. “All he did was essentially say ‘I love my son’.”
Clare was questioned by a member of the audience about sexism in sports journalism. She said there were now many female sports journalists but added: “The next barrier is commentary – and more female commentators.”