Photo by Ross Sneddon on Unsplash

Do you have a video shoot that requires you to speak on camera? Are you feeling a little intimidated? Being in front of the camera can make some people feel uneasy. With practice, however, you can become a natural.

Many years ago when I taught public speaking courses, I would tell my students to go home, lock the bathroom door, and practice in front of a mirror before delivering their speech. My advice hasn’t changed much. However, with digital technology one no longer needs to be at home with a locked bathroom door in order to practice looking like a pro in front of the camera.

So what can you do to look like a professional on-air personality? Here are a few tips:

First, always maintain eye contact with the camera. The camera takes the place of the person you are talking to in the room. Keep your eyes on the camera lens and avoid looking up and off to the side when you’re talking. This takes away from your credibility on your subject matter. If you’re recording yourself with your smartphone, or tablet, you need to know where the camera lens is. See my video with some advice for smartphone recording.

Second, speak slowly and clearly. Enunciate every word. Make sure you’re hydrated when you are in front of the camera. This will help get your mouth around words with multiple syllables. You also want to pause for a three count between sentences and paragraphs. This serves two purposes. First, it allows your viewers to digest and summarize what you’ve said. Second, it gives your editor an easy place to make an edit to add b-roll or to cut if you make a mistake.

Third, eliminate slang and street language from your speech when you’re in front of the camera. Once you gain the customer, you can speak slang in a face-to-face situation.

Fourth, go for the power posture. Keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed in order to maintain an authoritative position on your topic.

Fifth, use purposeful hand gestures. I have to admit, this one is hard for me. I’m not Italian, but I sure do like to talk with my hands! Use your hands/fingers to emphasize points like, “first, second, and third.” Extend your hand forward when you come to paragraph transitions or words like, “well, furthermore, or so.” Hand gestures are non-verbals and should be used to help tell your story and not detract from it.

Finally, practice, practice, practice! Earlier I mentioned going into the bathroom and locking the door. What if that’s not possible? Maybe you live in a one bathroom house and share it with four other people. You don’t want to perceived as a bathroom hog! Grab your smartphone, set it up against a flat surface, or use a tripod so that your hands are free, flip the camera toward you, set the camera to video record mode, and practice your script. After you’ve recorded, watch the video. Notice your speaking rate. Was it slow and clear enough for your grandma to understand? Were you sitting up or standing straight? Did you maintain eye contact with the camera lens 100% of the time? What was happening with your hands? Were your gestures purposeful or were they frenetic? Now practice and watch again.

Watching your practice runs on video can be difficult, but it is truly one of the best methods to give yourself the feedback you need before you get on stage to pitch your product.

Do you need some additional video coaching? I’m here to help.