Delivering a presentation to camera can come about in various contexts, which we have separated into two major categories: live (1) and recorded (2).
For example, you could be on TV (or the radio) in the context of an interview that’s broadcast live.
You could be recording a video (podcast, MOOC, course unit, vlog etc.) that will be broadcast later, after editing.
The difference between the two is that when it’s live, you only have one shot at expressing yourself, while if it’s recorded, you have the advantage of being able to do several takes, e.g. if you make a mistake. Then, when it’s edited, the parts can be rearranged or deleted according to the objectives of the video.
👩🏻 (Laurène): The courses on this platform fall into the second category, because the content must be very precise. As far as possible, we record until the content is complete, without errors or glitches.
You have more flexibility with a recording since you can make mistakes and start again to do it better. However, it’s definitely longer.
Get ready: prepare your image
A video, especially if it’s meant to stay online, leaves a lasting impression. Your image needs to be prepared and to suit the context in which you are making the recording.
Your clothes should be suitable and ironed.
Your hair should be washed that morning and well combed.
You'll wear a bit of makeup to make your complexion matte and avoid shininess.
Sometimes professionals are there to help, but it isn’t always the case. Make sure you have suitable clothes; they should be sober and professional (e.g. necklines shouldn’t be too low, since your audience is there to listen to you and not to be distracted).
Still on the question of clothing, there are two things you need to know:
Avoid fine stripes which produce a strong moiré effect which is unpleasant for the viewer. And, in general, avoid anything that would disturb the eye:
Clothes that are too brightly coloured (like red) or strongly patterned;
Lots of small patterns, like spots or more complex patterns;
And clothes that are too white, reflective or, on the contrary, too black and dull.
Deliver your presentation with assurance
You look at the camera when recording a video. However, there’s a tendency to forget that you’re talking to individuals; the people watching the video, who are humans, not things.
👨🏻 (Stéphane): It can be difficult to imagine a crowd or a group of people when you’re talking to camera, and there’s no one there, except the cameraman. Well, you’re not a robot and must seem authentic.
If we can give some advice about how to come over naturally:
Above all, don’t learn your text by heart!
That gives the impression of reciting (you know, the typical monotone with punctuation pronounced in a very scholarly way). It’s unmissable: the listeners notice it immediately, get bored, tend to go to sleep. That’s not what you want.
Use a teleprompter if you need to
Reading a teleprompter implies that the script has been precisely drafted beforehand. The problem is that you don’t write the same way as you speak. Spoken language is more natural, while written language is more formal. The thing is, you don’t want to give the impression that you’re reading a dull, didactic lesson. On the contrary, you need to be dynamic and talk in a natural, plausible tone – the tone you would use for presenting a lesson to a class.
What can you do to seem natural?
Give preference to short videos
It’s easier to have the content of a three to five-minute video in your head, than one of 10 minutes or more. So, divide your recording into several sections or chapters, you’ll see that it will be much simpler to tackle.
Have lots of energy
You may have noticed that something strange and mysterious happens with the camera… 🤔
👨🏻 (Stéphane): In fact, the camera tends to erase your energy. You might think you’re being enthusiastic and after viewing the video find that it seems a bit dull. This is normal and the same for everyone because the image gets flattened. Therefore, you need to exaggerate the delivery a bit.
How can you give off more energy than you have?
Our advice is this: always keep in mind the goal of the video and your intention.
What’s the most important thing?
What do you absolutely want to communicate?
What is the one thing you want your audience to remember?
What emotion do you want to arouse?
How do you want the listeners to feel when watching your video?
Asking yourself these questions before you start will prepare you to aim for the right goal, with the right tone and not forget anything important. In brief, it will enable you to embody your intention.
Another important advantage: it will make you smile naturally and sincerely. 😊
Cope with risks
Manage your fatigue
Being on camera can be very physical.
In fact, filming can last for some time inasmuch as:
There are several takes which means repeating the same sentences many times, sometimes only to progress slowly;
You need to give off and maintain a very high and constant level of energy throughout the recording.
👩🏻 (Laurène): At the end of my first recording, I was exhausted and I ached all over!
After some time, you may get tired, and your energy levels will drop. This isn’t good as the people watching the videos will be affected and influenced by the energy you give off.
Take this factor into account and make sure you sleep well the night before. 😴
Accept the unforeseeable
Many unforeseeable things can happen and are difficult to anticipate. T
👩🏻 (Laurène): The unforeseeable things that we, unfortunately, encounter from time to time in the OpenClassrooms studios, include roadworks. The noise interferes with recording conditions and we sometimes have to cancel and postpone filming.
By definition, you can’t do much, other than accept it and check that a future recording date can be scheduled quickly.
We specify “quickly”, because it’s not good to put it off for too long. It’s bad for one’s motivation and the troops’ morale!
Look at the techniques applied by some presenters
Watch the following YouTube videos:
Graham Norton's 2020 BAFTA opening speech
Another ambiance, another medium: let's move from YouTube to presenting live!
Speed, flow, rhythm, breathing.
Articulacy, elocution, oral punctuation, "words in bold."
Gestures, especially using the hands and arms.
Grounding the body (even if the legs are not visible, you should be able to tell if the speaker is well grounded or not).
When producing a video recording, you have the advantage of greater flexibility because you can do several takes. When it is going out live, you have just one chance to express yourself.
Consider your appearance carefully: it should match the environment in which you are recording.
To come across as genuine, address the people who will be watching the video and avoid speaking in monotone as when reading.
The visual image flattens energy, and the "camera erases" it. To counter this effect, keep the purpose of your video and your speech in mind and over-emphasize things a little.
Accept that not everything can be planned and take action to arrange another filming date if necessary.
You now have all the key information for giving a presentation to camera. See you in the next chapter to prepare a business presentation.