5 Tips For Being A Star On Camera
October 18, 2009
A few hours of proper preparation can transform your first video shoot, from a nerve wracking experience to a real career highlight, that will give you new insights into your personal presentation style and, take your communication skills to the next level (both on and off camera). In this article we share 5 tips to help business executives and classroom presenters make the transition from delivering in person to successfully presenting on camera.
Know Your Material
“Oh to be Marlon Brando” as Neil Young once lamented, chances are if you had that sort of acting talent you wouldn’t be reading this post. Still, like every good stage talent you’ll need to know your material. Unless you spent 5 years in stage school, I’d avoid unscripted improvizations for your next training production. By the time you get to your video shoot, you should pretty much know your material by heart if not word for word. For subjects you regularly deliver as part of your day job this shouldn’t be a problem; for new topics you may want to record your material on a Dictaphone and listen to it on your drive to work for a few days.
Beware Of the Teleprompter
Being able to read naturally from a teleprompter is becoming a useful skill for any corporate executive; google a Chicago politician named “Barack Obama” if you’re still unconvinced. Still, it’s a tricky skill to master, as Teleprompters can (but not always) impeded the natural rhythm of our speech and add unnecessary pressure on the day of the shoot. For your video debut I recommend reading from a “Ghetto Teleprompter” rig as it’s known in New York Film School circles, consisting of a large LCD TV display showing a section of your speech, or a familiar PPT slide that you’re presenting. While unsuited to professional acting talent, this setup can be a great approach for classroom presenters making their video debut, as it allows the presenter more control over the speed of their delivery, rather than trying to match the Teleprompter.
Dress For Success
The news that you’re about to star in your company’s next video production is usually cause for celebration, and a good excuse to invest in a new wardrobe. Before you dash off to Dolce and Gabanna to purchase a vintage patterned suit, keep a couple of simple wardrobe tips in mind. Dark, solid colors such as navy blues and blacks work best on video; intricate patterns can cause problems for the camera. Avoid green, this is good fashion advice in general but especially true when shooting against a green chroma key background screen (like they use for the weather forecast). Finally, avoid shiny fabrics as they can pick up the chromakey lighting making post production a nightmare.
Pump Up Your Muscle Memory
As corporate folks, we probably have decades (yikes!) of experience delivering in a calm and controlled manner. This speaking style is fabulous for explaining an anomaly on your expense report to your boss, on camera it can make us look stilted and unnatural. So be confident that you have the professional elements of your presentation locked down, instead focus your rehearsal on adding genuine passion to your delivery and “playing” with the material (hence the expression playwright). A great technique is to rehearse as if you’re delivering pantomime style to a group of pre-schoolers. When you return to your usual corporate style, your body subconsciously remembers many of the emotions and gestures that came from playing with the script during rehearsal. This technique is the foundation of our crash course in video presentation skills.
Keep It Simple (But Professional)
While catering budgets, a team of 16 interns with snappy headphone mikes and a million dollar lighting rig aren’t essential for most learning related video productions, you need to keep to a few minimum standards. Like bad wedding photography, little things such as poor lighting and below par sound quality have the potential to turn your training production into something reminiscent of a video declaration from an autocrat in an unheard of country. Keep it simple, avoid those “cool special effects” like the plague and use the proper video equipment to achieve a quality end product. Interestingly, most commercial video production companies are overkill for the requirements associated with a learning project so watch for budget inflation: they’d rather be shooting the next Diet Coke commercial at $100,000 a day than your opening movie.
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