HOW TO PRESENT TO CAMERA
Some tips on building confidence in front of the lens
It is normal to feel a little uncomfortable when you present to camera. With no audience to engage with, it can be difficult to know whether you are communicating your message effectively. Where do you look? What do you do with your hands?
As video continues to become a dominant and standard form of communication, it is handy to have an understanding of best practices of how to present to camera. These will help you connect with your audience in an authentic way and build your confidence in front of the lens. Check out our eight tips to help you shine on-screen.
Quick note – when you a presenting directly to the camera this is known as a piece to camera.
Tip #1 - Know your message
After years in the industry, I can confidently tell you that although many people think they are effective ‘off-the-cuff’, very few people are. Winging your dialogue when you present to camera typically ends up in long winded ramblings that lack direction or a clear message. Or alternatively, a series of broken up sentences intermixed with swearing.
Depending on the type of video a script may or may not be necessary, but an outline at a minimum is always useful. Testimonials for example often sound more authentic if they are not memorised, but it is good if the speaker has at least reviewed the questions and thought beforehand of their responses. Videos that require specific information, such as a training or instructional video, should generally be scripted.
When writing your script, remember to keep the tone true to you and your brand. You want to sound natural and authentic in your delivery. Read the script out aloud to ensure that it flows. Review the copy and ensure you have a clear message and that it is written as if you are speaking directly to the viewer.
Tip #2 - Consider your brand
Make sure that how you present yourself in your video is a reflection of your brand. Is your brand high end and professional? Is it more relaxed and carefree? Your presentation should reflect how you would like to be perceived. This will come down to choices us to whether you sit or stand, where you are located, how you speak, and what you are wearing.
Tip #3 - Think about fashion
Continuing on from our last tip, it is important to think about what you are going to wear. You want to make sure that your fashion choices portray the right image for your brand, and also that you feel comfortable in what you are wearing. If your clothing is too tight for example, you might find it difficult to look natural on camera or deliver your dialogue.
Furthermore, there are some fashion choices that do not work well on camera. It’s important to avoid stripy or checkered clothing as this can cause an optical effect called a moire pattern. Wearing white shirts or dresses can not be flattering on camera and can also clash with some backgrounds. If you are planning on wearing a white top or dress it is a good idea to bring a jacket or something to wear over the top.
Tip #4 - Look them in the eye
When you present to camera, it is important to keep eye contact with your audience. This helps you connect with your audience and keep them engaged. Keep your eyes on the camera lens and try not to look around too much. And don’t forget to blink!
Depending on the type of video, you may not be speaking directly to camera. For example, if the video project is an interview, you may be set up to look and speak directly to the interviewer instead. Speak to your video production team to determine what look and feel you wish to achieve.
Tip #5 - Check your background
The last thing you want is to be delivering a great piece to camera and then find out someone’s toddler has taken off their clothes and run into the fountain you were standing in front of. And it’s not just outside where you need to be careful – we’ve all seen those Zoom videos where someone’s spouse/child/pet has wondered past the camera and done something entirely cringeworthy.
Our tip? Make sure to take a good look around you and check that your background isn’t too distracting. Check for visual as well as audio issues that might cause a problem. If you are filming in a park for example, you may want to check for any littler lying on the ground, and that you are not too close to the playground. You may want to make adjustments to the background like add some signage that shows your brand. If your background is a wall or backdrop, position yourself a good distance away to avoid any shadowing.
Tip #6 - Think about your hands and feet
One thing a lot of people struggle with when they present to camera is what to do with their hands. It’s natural to want to use your hands to express what your saying, however on camera it is important that this doesn’t become too distracting. Use smaller movements with your hands at times when appropriate with the dialogue to add emphasis.
When deciding whether to stand or sit, think about the purpose of the video, your brand, and what message you are trying to convey. Standing automatically creates the impression of more energy, whereas sitting down can make you appear more easygoing and relaxed – just be careful not to slouch.
If you choose to stand, plant your feet firmly on the ground about hip width apart. Imagine they are stuck to the ground and do not let them move! Pacing, rocking or swaying can be distracting and may cause you to move in and out of the camera’s focus. Be mindful of your body language – for example, crossed arms can be closed off, whereas open palms are inviting.
Tip #7 - Practice makes perfect
Take the time to read over and rehearse what you have to say. Rehearse speaking out loud, not in your head. Practice word emphasis – words have no meaning when they are delivered in the same tone. Put emphasis on words that require more attention. Try placing emphasis on different words to see what happens. This is especially important if you are reading a script or reading from a teleprompter to ensure you sound natural and not that you are reading.
Tip #8 - Shake it out, take a deep breath, and do your best
Remember, everyone has to start somewhere when it comes to presenting to camera. Before you start, think about who the video is for and the value you would like to share with them. Present like you are speaking directly to those people.
Just before you are about to start, do a bit of a shake to loosen yourself up, take a sip of water and a deep breath – you are going to do great!
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