You don’t have to be an actor to make an impact on camera.
There’s no denying that some people are just naturally great in front of the camera. You might say that the camera loves them and they make video presenting seem effortless. But people with such a talent are rare, and most of them are actors who have made it their profession. But what if you, the CEO, business owner or founder, manager, salesperson, instructor, developer or whatever your role in your business have been assigned the task of presenting in front of the camera? How do you prepare?
How can you make sure that you get the best out of what you have to deliver and keep your corporate video production engaging?
There are some great articles and books about presenting to an audience, and a lot of those skills apply here (for some great online resources on presenting see the Further Reading section below). But few have tackled the unique challenges of presenting in front of the camera.
Let’s begin by looking at what makes presenting in front of a camera different to being on stage or in front of an audience. Understanding this will help to unravel the unique challenges that you will be faced with as you look down the dark, cold lens of the camera.
The obvious difference is that there is no immediate audience in front of you, just the camera operator and, in the case of interviews, the interviewer. This might make it easier for those who freeze up at the mere mention of presenting in front of an audience, but it can also be difficult to gauge your audience engagement. Even great stage presenters can get lost in front of the camera; they can’t use techniques like asking questions and adding a few light hearted comments to manage the audience’s energy. It’s like a comedian telling jokes to a statue.
Let’s take a look at some practical tools to help you create an engaging video presence.
You don’t have to get it right the first time. This is the great thing about video interviews and presentations. Generally, depending on how complex the presentation is, you get several takes. It helps to discuss this with the director, interviewer or company you are working with, they can often recommend how much time you will need based on your experience with being in front of the camera.
And, if the budget allows it, I highly recommend the use of multiple cameras, that way you can have the one camera (the master) focusing on your presentation, while the other camera (roaming camera) captures B-roll (or cutaways as is referred to in the film industry), such as closeups of your hand and different angles of your presentation. This lets the editor to seamlessly arrange all the best moments and smooth around the edges of the edit using the cutaways. This is the way most professional video interviews and presentations are constructed and one of the best ways to get professional results if you’re not an experienced presenter.
Also, if the interviewer is in the video, the camera crew will probably shoot noddies. These are shots of the interviewer (or other people on camera with you) nodding in reaction to your response. Noddies, like other cutaways, are used to smooth out the edit and create a seamless flow.
During an interview, start by ignoring the camera. Eye contact is particularly important in an intimate medium like video. With an interview you attention should always be on the interviewer and let the camera do all the work around you. With a straight to camera piece imagine the camera as being the target person for your presentation. Don’t think of an audience, think of the one person. If it helps give that person a name. This creates a more intimate connection with your viewer because it personalises your delivery.
Another helpful technique employed by camera operators and directors is to just start a relaxed conversation before the camera starts rolling, that way the launch to the interview or presentation is more natural and seamless.
Usually, with the last couple of takes (time allowing) I get the presenters to just have fun with it. By that point you’re either so exhausted or so relieved to be almost done that you’ll sail through it. You might find you’ll get a more natural delivery then. Again, don’t worry about making mistakes, because if you are using multiple takes with cutaways, the editor will be able to make it work.
Avoid reading directly from the script because if you focus on the script, you will lose your viewer. Practise to the point where you know the structure of the material really well. This means giving your own character to the material; it’s how you engage the audience. Take your time saying what you need to say. Don’t rush and don’t forget to smile every now and then.
Think about how you can break up talking with B-roll footage, presentation slides, or graphics. Straight to camera pieces are usually no longer than 2 to 3 minutes. If you are planning something longer remember that video is an action orientated format, a still face to the camera will never maintain interest for very long.
And a few more practical things,
- Don’t wear clothes with complex patterns, stripes, black or very bright orangey reds. Check out the Further Reading for some great online articles on dressing for camera.
- Whether male or female it makes it easier if you wear shirts with a collar, or a jacket so that the audio recordist can have a place to attach the lapel mic. Avoid wearing jewellery around your neck, it can get in the way. The audio cables should be hidden inside you jacket or shirt. For this reason it is better to avoid dresses. If the microphone is wireless you will still need somewhere to hide the transmitter, generally clipped to the back of your pants or skirt.
- If you can afford it, it does help to have some form of camera ready makeup.
- Adding lower thirds can make your video look more professional.
- Consider some form of subtitles. It will extend the reach of you video.
We hope you have found these few pointers useful. Feel free to contact us if you have any question about your presentation.
- Presentation Tips. UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: http://www.washington.edu/doit/presentation-tips-0
- How Do You Prepare for Presentations? INSTIGATOR BLOG: http://www.instigatorblog.com/how-do-you-prepare-for-presentations/2008/01/16/
- How to give a presentation: 10 tips to move your audience. THE GUARDIAN: https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2014/nov/04/how-to-give-a-presentation-10-tips
On dressing for the camera,
- Dressing for the camera. Wistia: https://wistia.com/blog/wearing-color-camera
- What to Wear (and Avoid!) When Presenting On Camera. Envato Tuts, https://photography.tutsplus.com/tutorials/what-to-wear-and-avoid-on-camera-part-one–cms-27655
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