If you have been to our blog before, you may remember we recently talked about some best practices when presenting on a webcast. Our team has been supporting an increasing number of live video webcasts, most often large town halls, where speakers are being broadcast live from a stage or auditorium (with the live audience) into the webcast platform to be viewed by the virtual audience. On these types of events, V2 sends it’s producers onsite to work with the video crew to ensure everything goes off with out a hitch.
V2 sets up all the technical aspects of the production, including the sound feed, lighting, stage direction and network optimization. We also work with the speakers behind the scenes prior to the live event in what we call a “dress rehearsal.” During the rehearsal, all players walk through their piece of the presentation, practice some of their speaking points, test their audio, and familiarize themselves with their surroundings, whether that be sitting on a panel onstage or at a podium.
We thought it might be helpful to further expand our posts on best practices to include our tips on speaking on camera. Some of them may seem simple, but you would be surprised how often a lot of these are overlooked, and how huge an impact you can have on your live and virtual audience alike, if you follow these guidelines.
General Best Practices
Remember that you are being watched by your audience, potentially at all times. Even if you are not presenting, you still may be within view of a camera.
- Even though you can’t see your virtual audience, they can see you! The same best practices for public speaking still apply: Speak slowly and clearly, and look directly at the camera. Engage the camera just as you would another person. Imagine the camera is your friend!
- If you are speaking to notes, try to keep them as concise as possible. Avoid looking down at notes for extended periods.* Bring water with you to the podium. For professional productions, the stage lighting can be very bright and hot. Come prepared with water – it’s far better to pause and take a drink, than it is to keep force yourself to keep presenting.* Avoid touching your face or hair. These are often unconscious gestures we perform out of habit, but on camera they can make you look nervous or uncomfortable, and can be distracting to the audience.
- Relax, don’t rush! Concentrate on speaking in a relaxed, normal rate. In normal conversations, it’s very common to pause between phrases and sentences. Speaking to your audience in this same manner helps to ensure they are participating, and following your conversation.
Dress and Appearance
- Plan on wearing light colored clothes, with minimal patterns. AVOID shirts, blouses, or ties with intricate patterns or lines – these can produce a jumping color effect on camera
- Most stage backdrops will be of a darker color. Wearing lighter colored clothes helps to ensure you are easily seen on camera
- If you don’t need to wear glasses, don’t.
- Don’t overdo the makeup, but don’t shy away from it either! Light powder makeup can help reduce shine and glare created by stage lighting. Female presenters should use eye makeup sparingly.
- Present in clothes that are breathable, cool and comfortable. You will be onstage and in direct lighting for potentially more than an hour.
- Don’t take anything onstage unless it’s needed; keep the cell phones, pagers and computers powered down, and off the stage. Find out where you can safely store purses or coats away from the stage area.
- Know your stage before you go live. Take a moment to review out the stage area, keeping in mind any boundaries you must stay within or potential hazards to avoid. If you are part of a broadcast involving multiple speakers, review how you will walk on stage, where you will sit, how you will walk to and from where you will speak.
- Most times your audience will hear you from a wireless lapel mic that will be attached to your shirt. Your sound technician will ensure that it’s powered and placed for optimal reception. Prior to going live you will also perform a quick “sound check”, where the technician will set volume and frequency levels to best broadcast your voice. During the sound check, it’s important to speak as closely as possible to how you will speak when you present live. Conversely when you are live, remember to not shout or speak at levels above the volume you spoke at during your sound check.
- If you are speaking to PowerPoint or other materials that are also being shown on a screen, request the use of a comfort monitor. A comfort monitor is a screen placed at the front of the stage for your viewing only, that displays your presentation materials. Having this visible to you at the front of the stage means you don’t have to continually look back or away from the cameras to view your materials.
Many people presenting for the first time during a webinar are surprised by how different it feels speaking to a virtual audience compared to a live one. After all, it is difficult picturing people in their underwear when you cannot see and in most cases, even hear them. Without body language and eye contact to keep your audience engaged, it is imperative that you rely on your voice and word choice to communicate the tone of your message. Web annotation tools, polls, and QA sessions can help gauge the interaction of your audience, but it is your voice that will initially capture their attention.
Here are some tips that can help you sound like a pro on your next webinar:
- Speak with enthusiasm (this is not to be confused with volume). This is important in any presentation, but is vital for a webcast or webinar. Having energy in your voice conveys your interest in the topic and prevents you from sounding monotone.
- Set the tone of your presentation with your introduction. Knowing your audience and topic well will help you determine what tone is appropriate. Depending on the topic, telling a story or opening with a question can capture listeners’ attention.
- Use body language. Physical movement actually infuses more energy into your voice and makes you sound more conversational. Using hand gestures, or even standing up and moving as you would if someone was in front of you, will keep you more alert and interactive.
- Remain focused. Avoid wandering off-topic or going on tangents that aren’t directly related to your message. It is easy for listeners to lose interest or multi-task online if your message strays.
Author – Jessica Bradford is a Virtual Event Manager with V2 who has been in the event production industry for over 5 years.