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How to Maximize Filming Your 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. Additionally, some prints and colors will look odd on camera and can even show up as blurry or interfere with the camera’s ability to focus on you. 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 camera’s 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 the zoom lenses 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 Talk was filmed at TED, and how it emphasizes his points and creates interest.

Think about 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 needs to be to easily get all of the action.

Consider 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 or TEDx talk, and observe how they cut in audience reactions for that very effect.

These are are a few ways to make your recorded presentation look and sound great.

See Natalie’s original post here.


Natalie Gallagher is an experienced educator who is dedicated to helping her clients become phenomenal speakers, writers, and trainers. You can reach her at natalie @ nataliecoaches.com or by visiting her website nataliecoaches.com