Top Tips for Appearing on Camera
Some people leap at the chance to be the face of an internal training video, or to be the spokesperson for the company in a marketing video or TV interview. But others accept the request to be in front of the camera more reluctantly.
But take heart! Production companies and journalists have got a lot of experience in putting those in front of the camera at ease. For the past thirty years we’ve been preparing our clients for their appearances in videos, so we’ve put together a list of tips to help you breeze through your moment of fame.
Tips for being a direct-to-camera presenter are similar to those for being an interviewee, although you’ll often be under greater time and pressure constraints in an interview situation, but they are all relevant to anyone with a camera pointing at them.
1) Decide in advance the top three or four crucial points you have to get across, and don’t get distracted from delivering them. Filling silence with superfluous ‘and also…’ items as your mind wanders can muddy the message you intended to convey.
2) Make your answers short, precise and relevant – don’t be afraid to stop when you’ve made your point. There is a tendency for people to feel they need to keep talking for as long as the camera is pointing at them.
3) Usually the interviewer won’t be there to grill you, but to make sure all of the pertinent responses have been gathered for their piece. Their side of the conversation will often be edited out to leave them with your soundbites. You’ll likely be asked to respond with closed sentences that will make sense when edited out of the context of the question. For instance, the answer “Yes, it’s going to exceed all expectations” won’t mean a thing without its preceding question – whereas “This year’s figures are going to exceed all expectations” will make a lot more sense when placed on its own.
4) Where should you look? If you’re being interviewed, look at the interviewer and keep your gaze on them – wandering eyes can make you look shifty. Those may sound obvious directions, but we have had interviewees who’ve been asked a question, and then turned directly to camera to deliver the answer.
5) Maintain your interviewer’s gaze at the end of your answers – don’t spoil a great response by glancing to a colleague for a thumbs-up at the very last moment.
6) If you’re being interviewed in an office, make sure you are standing or using an open chair or sofa. Talking from behind a desk puts up a barrier between you and the viewer, making you seem unapproachable.
7) If you need a moment to gather an answer to a question don’t glance upwards, or look to someone off-camera. Instead, look downwards for a second as it gives the impression that deeper thought is going into your response.
1) Where should you look? Unlike an interview situation, when you’re presenting – look directly at the camera! No need to stare or rigidly deliver a monologue – just talk to the lens as you would a person stood in its place.
2) If the production company offers you a prompter take them up on it! If you’ve got to deliver something lengthy or technical directly to the camera, and it really has to be word-perfect, a prompter really will help you get the piece done more swiftly and with fewer hesitations – and zero chance of inadvertently saying the wrong thing!
3) If you’re working without a prompter then conventional wisdom says that ‘practise makes perfect’, but unless you’re a professional presenter recalling someone else’s script you can sometimes inadvertently trip yourself up by over-rehearsing your own words. We’ve all met someone who can talk off-the-cuff about their business with enormous passion, yet give wooden performances when they’ve spent the night before making cue-cards for themselves. A piece to camera doesn’t need to be a speech – a relaxed and natural delivery sounds far more genuine.
4) Trust us, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable as you go along, so it’s a good idea, once you have completed your piece, to go back and record your opening deliveries again. Second-time around they’re often more succinct and flow more naturally as you’ve warmed up.
Remember your mic:
1) Whether your contribution is an interview or a piece to camera you’ll almost certainly have a radio-microphone attached to you. The sound recordist’s day will be much easier if you’re wearing a jacket with an inside pocket, or trousers with a back pocket – they’ll have places to discreetly clip the mic and hide the transmitter pack.
2) Radio-microphones typically have a range of about 100-metres… politicians have something of a poor track-record for forgetting that their off-camera conversations in the room next door can still be heard. The same is true of leaving your microphone on when you take advantage of a recording break to pop to the bathroom.
3) Lastly, don’t get up and leave until the recordist has removed your microphone – countless people have wandered off after we’ve finished shooting with a wire trailing after them, or got in their car to leave with a radio-mic still in their pocket. I know that one of our recordists would also like me to point out that radio-mic transmitters are expensive… from experience dropping them in a toilet is not advisable.