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tips for being great on camera

Tips to Be Great on Camera

| Laurie Brown |

Most likely you are conducting some or all of your business virtually. Being able to look and sound like a professional while speaking on camera is an important skill. In this guide you will learn my top ten tips to up your on-camera presence.

1. Writing a Script that Sounds Natural

Quite frankly without a good script, you will not be able to succeed in having a good video. Not all scripts sound like people actually talk. You need to sound conversational. How do you do that?

• Use shorter sentences and words. "It is" becomes "It's"
• Make mistakes (incorrect grammar, slang etc)
• Use incomplete sentences.
• Create a mind map of your concepts. Then, record your script and have it transcribed (zoom orRev). You can then edit it to clean it up.

2. Marking up the script

Even a perfectly written script will sound better if you mark it up. You can use marks to help you remember to pause, add emphasis, and connect thoughts. These are the marks I use. But you can use whatever you want to help you.

• XXX use one x for every "beat"or second of a pause.
• Bold or CAPITALIZE or underline for emphasis or for key words • Parenthesis for (keeping thoughts together"
• Quotation marks to add "inflection"
• Insert space for completed thoughts

Other tips if you are using a Teleprompter script:

• Usually a medium font size is best (58 pt Ariel).Too many words on a line may cause too much side-to-side eye movement (scanning). Too few words on a line won't give you much opportunity to see what is coming next.
• Reverse the text color—It is easier to read white text against a black back ground.
• Numbers need to be written as you want to say them—1,564 may be written as "one thousand, five hundred, sixty-four" or as "fifteen sixty-four". Also, numbers under 10 are usually spelled out, while numbers 10 and over are frequently typed as numerals.

• If symbols appear confusing, have them written out—"Percent" instead of "%." This is especially useful if the symbol comes before the word, as in "$4,502." Instead it should read "4,502 dollars"or "four thousand, five hundred, two dollars", which ever is easier for you.


3 Getting the right pace

The appropriate pace for speaking is generally 130 to 170 WPM. Generally, the sweet spot is about 150 WPM. Even keeping to the middle of that range, your presentation should have a varied pace. This is another reason to mark up your script to have a pace that sounds natural.

NEVER race the TelePrompter, you will lose. Also don't lag behind it. It takes a bit of practice to get the perfect speed. You will know you have achieved it if your eyes read only on one line of type that is centered in front of the lens of the camera. This line will be different depending on what your teleprompter is being displayed on. If you find that you are reading ahead of the Teleprompter pause to have it catch up.

As with any good performance, your pace, inflection and pitch should vary. A steady pace or a monotone puts an audience to sleep. In normal conversation, you speed up and slow down, you raise and lower your voice and you pause to think of how you want to say things or to emphasize a point. The same should be true when you read from a teleprompter.

4 If you still don't sound natural

Reading a script with or without aTeleprompter is not as easy as it seems. Too often people who use a Teleprompter sound like they are reading. Even great speakers can fail at sounding natural. Even after doing all the tips above you might find that you are not sounding like you do when you are speaking without a script. No worries, there is an easy way to still have the benefits of Teleprompters without sounding like a robot.

Using key words or concepts as your "script" will help you speak "off the cuff."
If you decide to use key words and concepts you need to put enough space or "air" in your script so that you are not racing the Teleprompter. This takes a bit of trial and error. Remember, each concept can take different timing. Once you get the timing right you can add the spacing you need.

5 Eye contact

This can be the trickiest thing to get right. On a Teleprompter that goes over the lens of the camera you want your eyes directly in the middle of the lens. With Teleprompters that are on your phone or on your
computer you need to test to see where your eyes should be focused. Typically this will be the top line.

You also want to be sure your eyes are "steady" shifting your gaze left to right or even up and down will have you appear "shifty," untrustworthy or unprepared. The further you are from the Teleprompter, the more "forgiving" the camera will be of your eye contact.


6 Body placement

How you appear on camera has a huge impact on how you are perceived by your audience. Your framing should present you as credible. Make sure you are taking a good portion of the screen with an inch or two headroom at the top.

Either stand with good posture or sit in the first third of your chair with your knees at 90 degree angle and your feet flat on the ground. Keep still below the frame of your shot. No hand movements if they are not visible. It is best to not sway or move towards or away from the camera, especially in the closer framings.

Also, your delivery needs to change depending on how you are framed.

Framing impacts delivery

Head shots require your delivery to be intimate. Speak as if you were having a one-on-one conversation.

With a bust shot your delivery will not be quite as intimate as with a head shot. Talk to the camera as if you were talking to people across a small table.

Waist shot framing allows you to speak with greater energy and power than the shots described above.

Three-Quarter Shot you need to address the camera as if speaking to a roomful of people.

Full body shots will have the same energy as if you were in a larger room.

7 Lighting

Use external light or lights. A light source that is right in front of you is most flattering. Three lights, one in front the other two at 45 degrees can provide good coverage. Choose LEDs or a daylight balanced light . Be careful of using light from a window, clouds or end of daylight can create issues. Lume cube and Elgato are good choices.

8 Background

Find a simple background that is not distracting. Neutral colors work well. Be careful of what is ob- served behind you. Is it the image you want to portray? Green screen can be extremely problematic and will limit your movements. I love Anyvoo for backdrops

9 Wardrobe/Makeup

Your wardrobe has to not only match your personal brand, it has to work with the peculiarities of video. Tight patterns such as checks or houndstooth can vibrate.

10 Sound

Sound is the most important element. People are more forgiving of bad video than they are of bad sound. Avoid speaker phone. Use a microphone such as Yeti Blue Nano. The mic should be 6" from your mouth.



If you want more information about improving your on-camera presence, don't hesitate to reach out to me.

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