Six tips to supercharge your camera presence

03rd June 2021

In our professional lives we’re increasingly expected not only to be good at our job, but to be good at presenting ourselves in person and on camera. In fact, with video calls as a central part of working life, career progression can depend not only on our professional abilities but on how we project ourselves on camera. However, the truth for most people is that we’re not born TED talkers! In fact, it’s pretty normal to feel anxious about public speaking. And as soon as a camera is added into the mix, existing fears can gather a whole new force.

So, for those of you looking to power up your on-camera skills we’ve got some simple (though often overlooked) tips that are guaranteed to make you look like a natural.


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Keep your eyes looking straight into the lens

Virtual eye contact has the same impact on our nervous system as looking someone in the eye in real life (Society for Psychophysiological Research). It’s incredibly important when presenting to maintain “eye contact” but staring into a camera lens doesn’t always come naturally. So with this in mind, it’s a good idea to perform a bit of brain trickery. Imagine the camera lens is in fact your best friend (or your dog) – basically, someone you feel really connected to. Think about your gaze, treat them to some solid eye contact and remember that (in essence) the lens is the person you’re speaking to.

The main thing to remember is not to flick your eyes away, this makes you look untrustworthy… like a politician that’s lying. So memorise key statements, put any notes that you may need as close to the lens so you don’t need to look away, or use an autocue. To be honest, investing in an autocue is the single easiest thing you can do to make yourself look slicker. You can either put your whole script on it, or just use bullet points as reminders. Just go for one that has a mirror that you look through, rather than a super cheap one that just puts a screen alongside the lens.

Talk to one person (not a fan base)

Over 75% of videos are now watched on mobile, which means that most videos are watched alone. So, while the popular “hey guys” greeting might work for youtube influencers, for more professional video appearances it’s safer to assume that your audience is made up of lone viewers. Don’t break the illusion by attempting to speak to a group – it’s far more powerful to address your audience directly.

talking on camera

Avoid the dreaded ‘um’ and ‘like’

They say practice makes perfect and, to be honest, they’re not wrong. Not only will rehearsing your script ahead of filming provide you with a clearer idea of how long your talk will last (helping you to fine tune your points), it will also cut down on the number of ‘ums’ and ‘likes’ that creep into your speech – those pesky non-lexical words that are great at distracting viewers away from the points you’re trying to make.

It’s worth recording yourself as you present to a live audience and listening back. It’s only when you’re under pressure that you may start repeating phrases like “if you see what I mean” or “you know”. In fact you may be saying these dozens of times and simply not noticing.

What do I do with my hands!

As much as 93% of communication during a presentation is visual. So visual distractions, such as poor posture or nervous fidgeting, can prove to be a massive turn off when it comes to keeping your audience engaged. People really struggle with what to do with their hands.

Think of having three zones in front of your body where your hands can be. Hands below your waist is the “relaxed zone”. Hands level with your waist is the “authority” zone. And raising them in front of your chest or face is the “power” zone. On the whole try to keep your hands in the authority zone. Use the “relaxed zone” if you are consciously trying to change the tempo of your talk halfway through. Use hands in the power zone to emphasise key points and to land that enthusiasm… Just don’t over do it.

Above all, just try to avoid having hands pinned down on your side like a robot.

We know it’s bloody awful, and you’ll invariably catch yourself saying “do I really sound like that?”, but watching yourself back is the best way to become conscious of (and eventually unlearn) those body language quirks you didn’t realise you had.

hand hurricane

Create the home-advantage

There’s a reason that the home-away advantage exists in sport. The energy of a live audience – the cheers when a goal is scored, for example – provides a powerful boost for any athlete. And while you might not be playing at the FA cup final, the same rule applies for public speaking – feeling at home in your surroundings, alongside positive audience feedback, can have a huge effect on your performance.

But, when you’re presenting on camera, there isn’t always a live audience there to bring that energy. So, it’s important to choose your cheerleader – someone to offer you encouragement from behind the camera and give you the feeling of being on your home ground. Either have a supportive colleague standing just out of shot, or choose a director that you’ve got a great rapport with.

Dress the part

And, finally, save that psychedelic shirt for the weekend. When appearing on camera, it’s best to avoid intricate patterns – tight stripes, for instance, can look like they’re moving of their own accord. When dressing for the camera colour is great, but keep it to large blocks. And, above all else, dress in a way that makes you feel good.

Takeaways

There’s an art to being on camera and, if like most people you don’t have access to A-lister media training, building these simple tricks into your presentation preparation will ensure that you steal the spotlight on the small screen.

We’re spending more of our time on camera than ever before. So, if you want to create some great video content, but you’re not quite sure where to start, don’t hesitate to give us a call.


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