Using the Power of the Camera in Presentations
By Natalie Gallagher
Many presenters have ample reason to record their presentations. It can be for the simple reason of watching to improve speaking skills, all the way to creating content for websites and marketing materials. But very few of us have the know-how to really use the camera in such a way that we look great.
My husband Shannendoah is both a skilled presenter, and an experienced videographer, and he often coaches speakers on how to work with the camera to achieve great results. I’m shamelessly ripping off his material for this post; here are some of his top tips:
- Know your stage background. Did you show up dressed in head-to-toe khaki only to find yourself speaking in front of a beige wall? On camera you may find you look like a disembodied head milling around the stage. Scout your speaking location well ahead of time, and be sure to choose colors that contrast with the background so you will stand out! Here are some more tips on choosing a camera-ready outfit.
- Consider the zoom. Prep with your camera-person ahead of time. Make sure they know how close up you want them to get and when, and where they can stand to achieve those shots. Make sure they avoid using zoom function on most common cameras; they blow up the image instead of actually zooming in, which makes for blurry/grainy footage.Zooming in and out at key points in your speech (like to capture a facial expression) can provide emphasis and drama for the audience watching the recorded version. Consider the example of how Tim Urban’s speech was filmed at his TED Talk, and how it emphasizes his points and creates interest.
- Consider your staging. Professional speakers always carefully consider and plan how they will use the area of the stage, as well as their gestures, to convey key points and keep the audience engaged. But when you’re being filmed, you must also consider where the camera is and its limitations. As part of your speech prep, map out how far around the stage you’ll move and where the camera need to be to easily get all of the action.
- Consider also filming audience reactions. When I’m on stage I’m typically a ball of nerves and adrenaline, so it can be hard to recall (or even process) what the audience reactions were to my speech. But learning how the audience is reacting to your material is a great indicator of what you need to work on to improve. And for filming geared towards content creation, having shots of the audience enjoying themselves can only help make your presentation more successful. Watch any TED talk, and observe how they cut in audience reactions for that very effect.
There are many more ways to make your recorded presentation look and sound great. Be sure to check back often for the next few tips on to use the power of the camera during your next presentation!
Natalie Gallagher is a skilled storyteller who works closely with clients to help them express their unique personalities through written and spoken content. Contact Natalie through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.