projecting your best on camera

Not too long ago, a Wall Street Journal email, sent by WSJ’s deputy managing editor Matt Murray and head of video operations Chris Cramer, caused a lot of controversy. The subject of this email? The appearance of WSJ’s reporters when they’re on camera.

Though you are probably not reporting live on-air, it is equally important that you stay on your A-game when appearing on video for your brand. In no particular order, we’ve compiled a list of 23 tips and tricks for looking and sounding your best in front of the camera!

1. Stay Organized

Structure your video with a beginning, middle, and end to clearly articulate your point. Keep this in mind not only when editing but also when shooting and storyboarding.

2. It’s OK to Pause

Shhhhh. Pausing for a couple seconds of silence after a particularly important point in your video gives your audience an opportunity to focus in on it and pay more attention to it than the surrounding sentences. This is especially important if you pose a question to your audience.

3. No Monotone

Make sure your sentences end on a downward inflection versus an upward inflection. How can you tell? If your statement sounds more like a question, you’re doing it wrong.

4. Beautiful Backgrounds

Don’t forget your background! It can assist you greatly in asserting your credibility depending on your topic. For example, if you sell a luxury product or service, shooting in an exotic locale (or looking like you are) will lend credibility to your reputation as a luxury expert.

5. Mind Your Eyewear

If you wear glasses and appear on camera regularly, have them coated to prevent reflections. Also, don’t wear photosensitive glasses, because they might darken under the extra light.

6. Strong Eye Contact

Maintain eye contact in order to come across as a credible source. Looking down, away from the camera, or blinking excessively will make you look shifty and unprofessional.

7. Proper Dress

Look like a professional – not someone who happened to walk in front of the video camera. Tuck in your shirt, make sure your bra strap is not showing and check that your shirt isn’t see-through or wrinkled.

8. Lovely Lighting

Remember, soft lighting from the side of the camera will make your features pop better than lighting directly behind the camera.

9. Camera Angle

Be sure the camera is at the right angle. At eye level or only just above eye level allows for the most natural, flattering view. If the lens is lower, your risk the dreaded double chin.

10. Take it Outside

Whenever possible, head outside to film with natural light. The best times for good light are early morning and evening, and the warm glow Mother Nature provides is the best (and cheapest) lighting option!

11. Stand Up Straight

Stand up straight as good posture dramatically improves appearance

12. Find Your Best Side

Determine your best angle. While it might feel a little silly at first for people who haven’t done it before, position yourself in the classic model’s pose. Stand with one foot in front of the other and one shoulder closer to the camera than the other. Three-quarters of your body will be facing the camera. If sitting, slightly angle yourself in a similar fashion.

13. Bright-Eyed

Late night or allergy attack? Use eye drops to clear redness in your eyes.

14. Makeup

Use makeup to cover skin redness and blemishes that, unfortunately, can be a real distraction in an otherwise flawless video.

15. Reduce Shine

Your T-zone (the top of your nose and your forehead) can be your worst enemy on camera. Keep the shine down by applying (and re-applying whenever necessary) powder and foundation. Avoid powders and foundations that contain SPF or light-reflective properties.

16. Mix it Up

Unless it’s the look you’re going for, wearing a single color can cause you to lose your shape on camera. Wear more than one tone, but avoid stripes or loud patterns.

17. Stripes Are Bad

Horizontal stripes can make you appear too wide, and wearing thin stripes can create a weird effect on camera.

18. Pretty Patterns

Patterns can overwhelm you on camera. If you are wearing a pattern, go with a large pattern to avoid unwanted visual distractions.

19. Close Shave

If you are a man, shave shortly before video taping. Give yourself enough time to heal any nicks in case you cut yourself.

20. Say No to Shine

Steer clear from shiny lip glosses and anything with glitter (blushes, eye shadows, etc). Use a matte translucent powder to dust over your visage before filming.

21. Calm Energy

Project energy, but don’t get too carried away. Big hand gestures, lots of movement, and fidgeting look unprofessional on camera (unless they’re an obvious part of your schtick).

22. Eradicate the Um’s and Ah’s

Focus on avoiding saying words like “like”, “uh”, “um”, and “ah” on camera.

23. Practice Practice Practice

Practice makes perfect! The more videos you shoot, the better and more natural you’ll become in front of the camera. Use a mirror in a pinch if you have to. Above all, have fun!


Have any other tips or tricks to add? Add them to the comments here, share them with us on Facebook, or Tweet (@sproutvideo) us!

Written by Laci Texter

SproutVideo blog contributor. You can follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Posted May 8, 2013

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