Are Your Execs Camera Ready?
Recently, I had the privilege of working with one of our client’s executives to help improve her on-camera skills.
After years of working as a TV reporter and anchor, I had been put through similar paces in my 20s and it was a great opportunity to be able to share this knowledge to help her better connect with her audience.
Many executives are highly skilled individuals, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are skilled communicators. The first thing I spent time doing was getting to know Sharon (not her real name). I wanted to get a better understanding of how she felt when the camera light turned on. Was she afraid? What did she think she needed to improve? What was she hoping to get from our one-on-one coaching? I also conducted a good bit of research reviewing her past on-camera work so I had some knowledge of her strengths and opportunities for improvement.
She understood that she had a dry delivery and sometimes appeared bored on camera with very little facial expressions. However, in life, Sharon was incredibly passionate about her work. Our goal was to ensure her audience felt that passion in the hopes of sparking a response.
Connecting with your Audience
As I learned in communications 101 in college, the majority of what we communicate to our audience actually has nothing to do with the words coming out of our mouths. In fact, non-verbal ques (ex. our body language and facial expressions) accounts for 55 percent of what we communicate with others. 38 percent is our tone of voice, and only 7 percent is the spoken word. In other words, it’s less about what we say and more about HOW we say it. One of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou illustrates this point.
So how do you communicate passion and evoke a feeling when reading a script on a teleprompter that someone else crafted for you? Below are some of the tips I provided Sharon.
- Think about audience always. Treat the camera lens as if you’re conversing with someone in your office or living room. Why should they care about what you are saying? If you don’t appear to care, why should they?
- Take ownership of the script. Know the content well and practice reading it OUT LOAD before gong on camera. Make edits to help you read more smoothly. It should sound like you and be conversational.
- Keep it simple. On camera scripts should be written at a 3-4 grade reading level. Remember, your audience only has one chance to hear the message. They can’t go back and read it like an article, so it needs to be easily digestible.
- Highlight key words you want to emphasize and practice your voice inflection. No one will listen to a “Monotone Mona.”
- Be sure to match the tone of the message. If it’s happy news you are sharing, then smile as you are talking, use expressive eyes, engage your hands (but don’t overdo it).
We then discussed the importance of having the right on-camera look. How do you want to present yourself to your audience? Some execs may even want to consider a stylist to help them achieve a polished, professional look. Believe it or not, looking the part goes a long way to projecting an image of respect, trust and knowledge.
- Avoid wearing stark white or all black. White washes people out and too much black makes it appear that you are in mourning.
- Avoid busy patterns. They play havoc with the camera and create a distraction for the audience.
- Opt for jewel tones and clothes that have some shape to them. They should not hang off the body like drapes. For women – consider a collared blouse and a blazer, or a shirt with a flattering neckline.
- Wear tasteful jewelry – nothing too flashy but you should still plan to wear something.
- Give your hair some height. You don’t need to go crazy teasing your hair, but it should have some shape to it.
- For female and male executives – wear powder to avoid shine on the face. It can get hot under the lights so you may need to reapply throughout the shoot. Females should wear more makeup than in everyday life so your facial features are more noticeable. However, be sure to use matte colors – leave the sparkles at home.
It was wonderfully rewarding to see Sharon put her new on-camera skills into action, but there is more work left to do. It takes time to really build a comfort on air.
The bottom line is that while you certainly want to be your authentic self on-camera, it’s about being the best version of yourself – think “Be yourself x 10!”
If you or your executive team are in need of on-camera training, let’s talk. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.