The 8 vital aspects of presenting to a camera lens compared with presenting live face to face. In just under 1,000 words, Paul Archer from Archer Training takes you through 8 essential strategies to ensure your online presenting is upgraded, improved and future-proofed.
The 8 Strategies
I remember presenting to 750 people in an auditorium in Iran. I always wonder how the people at the back saw me or knew what was going on? But that was back in the day when I spoke with large audiences, live. And I loved every minute.
The world has moved on. We now present to the camera. And everyone’s in the front seat since they are watching you on their screen – they’re in the front seat now and can see every nuance of you and your talk.
That’s changed the rules. Here are the new rules:
You can’t see them anymore
All you see is the lens of the camera, not the audience faces. For a seasoned presenter, this can be very problematic and off-putting. Not having feedback is not good.
You have to get over it and assume the audience is with you, enjoying your session and gaining value. Believe they’re there, a metre from you, in the front seat, watching your every move, each facial expression and hanging on every word.
Today’s intention is not to get audience interaction or engagement; that’s a noble objective, but not for today
You can’t look around anymore
You have to gaze into the lens of the camera. Now we need to visit the news anchorwoman. She’s reading the news to you and very rarely takes her eyes off of you; in other words, she’s constantly looking into the camera lens.
Even her autocue ensures she never loses eye contact with you; it’s positioned just below the lens. The only time she looks away is when the show ends, and she rustles the papers in front of her looking down. There’s a reason why she does this; we should copy her mannerisms.
Accentuate your voice.
Not by being louder; you have a professional microphone attached, so no need. Instead, train your vocal cords to spill out a more resonant voice, more profound, more warmth and more depth. I know everyone has varying vocal cords and alternative voice boxes, but a deeper, more resonant voice is more attractive to the listener’s ear, whether male or female.
Make sure you have a decent mic to allow this. I use a professional Sennheiser lapel mic that will enable me to move freely on my “stage”.
Talk to one person, not a crowd.
I recall my large audiences; you address them as a group. “How are you all today” “Can we see a raise of hands for this…?” No longer with online keynotes presentations. You are addressing an individual in the front row, in their home, on their dining room table, in their office, literally just 1 metre from you. So talk to them as an individual. “How are you today?” “If you can imagine this”, “Do you buy petrol or diesel?”. Not “Hands aloft for those diesel owners?”
Don’t expect or desire feedback
This is the most challenging for any speaker, presenter or orator who doesn’t usually present to a camera. You don’t know what your audience is thinking, whether anyone is interested or engaged. Of course, you can run break out sessions or use the chat to get their feedback, but this changes the whole dynamics of your presentation.
Today’s intention is not to get audience interaction or engagement; that’s a noble objective, but not for today. You want people to listen, take in your message, move their thinking, change their views, educate them – whilst they sit at home on their sofa with their laptop.
The best analogy is a comedy show on TV. I love sitcoms, comedy shows, “The Fast Show”, “Harry Enfield and Chums”. I watch them on my own, often, love the clips, the scenes. I laugh to myself, inside chuckle and enjoy the 30 minutes or at the most 45 minutes. That’s what you want to achieve with your audience. It’s a show.
Practise a whole lot more.
And get the session well-rehearsed, tight and structured. Fluid, yes, but you need to know where you’re going and move swiftly from one point to another. You’ll have no thinking time or be able to adlib or react to the audience. That doesn’t happen because you can’t see them or engage them in an activity or a “Speak to your neighbour for 2 minutes”.
No, you need to be practised, rehearsed and polished. No pauses, no thinking; your notes need to be sharp and close to the lens. Autocue, maybe, but I wouldn’t recommend it: instead, bulleted notes and a well-rehearsed session.
Your visuals need to go up a notch
As before, recall the TV newsreader. She’ll have visuals to enhance her presentation, but she won’t use them all the time. Mostly she’s talking to the camera, bringing in visuals when needed. Maybe a video clip or an outside correspondent or some animated PowerPoint type graphics.
Very professional. Their graphics are embedded with their image, not instead of, they lay to their side, and you should investigate how to do this yourself.
Get to know a new app – Mmhmm, OBS, Logitech Capture, eCamm or Vmix. However, you migrate and improve, please don’t revert to speaker behind a PowerPoint deck using shared screens. That’s been the leading cause of Zoom Anxiety.
Finally, signpost, signpost, signpost
The News on TV does it so well, and we need to replicate it. Your audience will be hanging onto your words, so let them know where you’re going, what snippets of excitement you have coming up, what you’re going to cover next, the significant benefits and take-aways.
Have fun, enjoy presenting to a camera lens. Let go, be yourself, share your content, your stories and your comedy. Have a solid structure and practice well beforehand, trust in your ability to engage an audience possibly many thousands of miles away on their laptops but, of course, in the front row.
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