You’ve prepared an awesome slide deck, you’ve rehearsed your speaking points, and your video presentation software is queued up and ready to go.
But are you ready to be on camera?
Adding presenter video to your online presentation or live webcast creates a more engaging experience for both you and your viewers. Fortunately, looking your best while on camera doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. We’ve got a few easy tips that you can follow to make sure that your video is as polished as you are.
Making eye contact with your audience is important, even for online presentations. Making eye contact will help your viewers connect with you as a speaker. As you deliver your presentation, you’ll want to look into the camera as if you’re speaking directly to a colleague. To make this easier, place your camera at eye-level. If you’re using your webcam, try stacking a few books or paper reams underneath your computer to get that extra height.
Not only will positioning your camera at just slightly above eye-level make it feel more natural for you to look into the camera, but it’s also more flattering. In contrast, most people’s laptop webcams are situated at too low of an angle, resulting in video that’s shot from the chin up. Unless you’re hoping to show off an extra chin or the inside of your nostrils, you’re better off raising up your camera a few inches.
Lighting is one of the easiest ways to improve a webcam presentation. Although there are several products on the market that we like, you could easily use lighting sources that you already have in your home or office.
A window provides the most natural light. However, you don’t want the window (or any light source) behind you in your shot, because it can cast unnatural shadows on your face or create a silhouette effect. This is called backlighting and results in your face being dimly lit. If you need to have a window in your background, draw the blinds and use an additional light source in front of you to ensure your face is adequately lit.
Experiment with different ways of lighting yourself to create a clear and natural image.
Remember that your audience will be able to see what’s behind you, so pay attention to the other objects that are in your camera’s field of view. An undecorated, solid-colored background is your best bet to ensure that your audience stays focused on you. Also, keep a bit of distance between you and your background – if you sit too close, the lighting can cast an unpleasant shadow onto the backdrop. Finally, remove any clutter and unnecessary items from your desk that may be distracting to your viewers.
You’ll want to be as relaxed and natural on camera as possible. One trick that we use to help our bodies become relaxed before a presentation is called “progressive muscle relaxation.” First take a deep breath, then tense up all the muscles in your body, including scrunching up your facial muscles. Hold that tension for a moment, then release the tension while exhaling. It may look silly, but it works!