Presentation Techniques: Jake Humphrey

A major contributing factor to any television show is the presenter, who, in some cases, broadcasts to millions of people worldwide. Differing presenting styles and the techniques they implement can be pivotal in gaining viewing figures and attracting their intended audience. One presenter whose distinctive style over recent years has enabled him not just to become the face of sport, but also of British broadcasting in general, is Jake Humphrey. By analysing his on-screen presence and various characteristics which he utilizes, it will show why Jake Humphrey is at the top of his profession.

Before being well-known for presenting BBC’s Formula One coverage for 4 years and then moving on to the BT Sport channel in January 2013, Jake began his career as a children’s TV presenter; who had the honour of being the first presenter to say hello to those watching on the newly formed CBBC in 2002. As he states in the video taken from Blue Peter as they commemorated 10 years of the CBBC channel, one of the qualities of being a CBBC presenter is having the ability to embarrass yourself, and whether it be on CBBC’s ‘Bamzooki‘ or ‘Against All Odds‘ his pleasant nature and enthusiasm he generated all those years ago are seen in the work he does to this very day, which also benefits him nowadays in lighter segments of programming which require humour. Furthermore, this grounding in children’s television would have helped enormously in building the qualities he possess such as his versatility, rapport and ease to get along with which comes across on-screen. < Jake Humphrey reflecting back on his time on CBBC.

Addressing his appearance and demeanor; Jake Humphrey’s is always very smartly dressed and presentable; more often than not opting to wear formal shirts and suits, coincide this with the aid of an iPad that he commonly uses while presenting and it gives the impression of a professional individual which adds credibility to what he says. Also the places he films from; including the glitz and glamour of the Monaco Grand Prix, to interviewing Sir Chris Hoy outside the iconic Olympic Stadium when he won gold yet again for his country, Jake’s appearance matches perfectly the occasion in which he is surrounded by. His soft Cambridgeshire accent doesn’t possess a ‘strong’ distinctive tone, (in comparison to a heavy Birmingham or Irish accent fellow sporting presenters Adrain Chiles or Colin Murray possess) which doesn’t overpower an audience making his voice listenable and soon becomes synonymous with whatever he’s associated with; be it F1, Football or sport as a whole. His voice is infused with the energy, excitement and passion of whatever he’s talking about that denotes he is informed and knowledgeable about what he is communicating to an audience. His love for motor racing, and football particularly, shine through. Although as seen in non-sporting related shows he’s presented like ‘The One Show’ and ‘This Morning’ Jake appears comfortable in various genres of television and still maintains a reassuring presence.

Jake Humphrey’s body language in front of the camera is very confident and relaxed. In the in-depth footage (highlighted below) showing a behind the scenes look at what it’s like as a F1 presenter and producer, he has a natural ability to improvise and adapt to the ever-changing world of live sport. One example of this is when the producer switches the opening shot from inside the pit lane to the dark sky over Singapore, with just seconds until they are live on air, he coolly alters his introduction and delivers it faultlessly to millions. In terms of live sport, his presenting style is heavily weighted in having pundits and co-commentators alongside him. Taking his time as the host of BBC’s Formula One coverage, Jake was joined by former team owner Eddie Jordan and former F1 driver David Coulthard, the chemistry and comradery between them was, according to Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle, as if, ”…They’d been working together forever.” This connection they all enjoyed reflects on to an audience as they feel more a part of the conversation and thus easier to feel connected with them, and the sport. Over time audiences would regard them in the same light as old friends discussing and debating topics in which they are passionate about. Likewise, in the case of the Merseyside derby which was shown on BT Sport on the 28th January 2014, he was able to set the scene excellently by incorporating the fans passing by outside Anfield into his opening comments, then branching out questions to ex-footballers David Ginola and Steve Mcmanaman- thus painting a vivid picture of the sheer scale, drama and anticipation of the derby in just one segment. Even simple things like reading out future fixtures which will be shown on the channel; Jake uses current stories and news to add more backstory and hype to the match, as he did for the AC Milan Vs Torino match- highlighting whether it could be Michael Essien’s first match for Milan since moving from Chelsea. < Behind the scenes (and different perspectives) of what it’s like to be an F1 presenter and producer.

Again, what is clear watching Jake is his questioning structure when surrounded by pundits or guests. He is able to set the scene for an audience and build up into a particular section of the show or programme and orchestrate the flow of questions effectively from those present and due to the fact he is such a gifted presenter, can follow it up with an iterative question or move on to the next subject. Overall, these phases of questioning seem seamless and meticulous, which is remarkable when you consider that the main body of his work is based upon live sport, which is ever-changing and evolving throughout the course of an event.

His questioning style, and the rapport he creates with his interviewee’s is another aspect to his distinctive approach. Depending on what interview or footage you view, he carries a fluidity right across questioning. Jake Humphrey’s in particular, is exceptional at exercising the use of iterative questions. Iterative questions explore a topic deeper from an initial question; these can be loosely prepared but improvisation has to be exerted because of the fact that you don’t know how the interviewee is going to respond. Jake’s expertise on the subject allows him to generate more information which other presenters wouldn’t have necessarily of obtained.

Touching on rapport again with those he interviews, Jake displays an unrivalled ability to befriend those in which he is questioning- this is evident in features played throughout Formula One race weekends that he was a part of. Evidence of this is seen when he interviewed Mclaren driver Jenson Button back in 2012. Set in the casual setting of a pub, the pair proceed to play pool with a fun/comedic element to the interview. Implementing open questions in a conversational way, the two evidently get on and is proof of the connections not only Jake, but the BBC team, have with individual drivers to bring viewers the best content which is enjoyable but also interesting and engaging from this slightly extraneous footage. His background as a children’s TV presenter would help bring a boyish sense of humour to a situation like this- these flesh out Jake’s character again by bringing a comical side which doesn’t feel fake or awkward to watch as a viewer.  < Item taken from the Australian Grand Prix coverage on BBC1 of Jake playing pool with F1 driver Jenson Button.

For someone who, as a teenager was sacked from McDonald’s for poor communication skills, Jake Humphrey’s is without doubt at the top of his career. The rush and enjoyment he gets from what he does shines through the television screen. As he wrote in his autobiography ‘The Inside Track’ about the genre of broadcasting he is associated with, ”You don’t have the benefit of rehearsals; there’s no make-up, no auto cue to tell you what you’re going to say next. Quite often there isn’t even the luxury of a running order. In the post-race segment especially we really are just busking it, and reacting to whatever drama live television has thrown our way…And that is exactly why live sport is such a thrilling challenge for a presenter.”

When an audience sees Jake Humphrey’s or even hears his voice, sports fans are excited by the ominous escapism of watching a grand prix or now a football match on BT Sport, and for those who aren’t familiar with his work they will be enchanted by a young broadcaster who is fluid, confident and professional and a perfect example of a TV presenter that appeals to not just a target audiences because of the fact he is someone the majority of sports fans can relate to, but has a wider appeal, through the qualities he displays. < Jake Humphrey’s new role be the face of football on BT Sport.


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