When you are presenting to camera, your goal is to keep your audience engaged and to keep their minds on your message.
In this article I am going to offer some tips for maximizing your professionalism when working in front of a camera.
This advice should help you keep your audience focused on your message without distracting them unnecessarily.
The camera magnifies mannerisms
There are plenty of things you should do in front of the camera, but let’s begin with a ‘what not to do’.
It is important to reduce any actions or body language that will put up a barrier between you and your audience. Here I am referring to conscious and subconscious mannerisms that can draw attention away from your message. The camera magnifies mannerisms. When watching professional presenters on TV, you will notice that they never bring their hands to their face. You should avoid any hand to face mannerisms e.g. touching your hair, mouth or nose, or rubbing your eyes.
The face is a powerful tool. It conveys thoughts, attitudes, feelings and emotions more than any other part of you.
It goes without saying that smiling is important. Smiling lights up ones face; it is attractive and welcoming.
Of course, it is important that the smile is genuine – otherwise you may just scare your audience.
Sheldon’s fake smile (from Big Bang Theory)
Open and closed positions
The idea of open and closed positions makes sense when you give it some thought. There are some ways of holding yourself that give off a defensive vibe and there are other ways that tell your viewer that you are open and confident. Folded arms and crossed legs can come across as very defensive – as though you want to shut your audience out. It comes across better if your hands are resting on your lap, or gently clasped together in front of you when standing up/to your side.
However, if you are experienced and in control of your hand gestures, they don’t need to be so fixed. Hand gestures can help you to express your point and to come across as relaxed and natural. David Jenyns from Melbourne SEO Services is a good example of someone who employs hand gestures effectively:
It is important that whatever positions you employ, they are natural to you. So play around with them to discover what is most comfortable and what comes across best on camera.
Posture is full of codes. If you slouch (as in the image at the beginning of this post), it signals disinterest. If you sit up/stand straight, your give the impression that you are alert and interested. You will get a similar response from your audience in return i.e. if you seem disinterested, they will switch off.
As mentioned earlier, there are certain mannerisms or movements that are essentially distractions and will cause your audience to disengage with your message. In terms of movement, it is about finding a balance. You want to come across as passionate and expressive, but you need to make sure you don’t move around too much.
Gideon Shalwick comes across well in video. He remains stationary but his facial expressions and hand gestures reveal his passion and enthusiasm for the subject matter he is talking about.
Of course, some of these recommendations will depend on the purpose of your video and the shot type. All of this talk of hand gestures would be irrelevant if you are only filming your head for example! Also, a politician would limit the amount of hand gestures they use to come across as extremely controlled. It is important to look around at other videos in your same genre. Analyse what works well and what doesn’t – learn from the mistakes of others. Also, analyse your own videos. Ask yourself what you can do to make it even better next time. Practice makes perfect.
I will leave you with this interesting analysis of Tony Blair’s gesticulations when giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. Remember, no action is meaningless!