Photo: Dylan Ferreira
Video is more important than ever for the vast majority of businesses trying to stay open during the pandemic, which you can see just by looking at how well online collaboration platforms have been doing lately. For example, Microsoft Teams grew its daily active users by 70% in a single month, while Google Meet added about 3 million new users daily in April alone. And since the spring, many businesses now conduct town hall meetings, executive presentations, and company updates entirely via video, often using the collaboration platforms mentioned above.
So if you’re relying on video for business a whole lot more than usual, you’re in good company! But as you might have noticed, not everyone is a natural when it comes to using video regularly, especially when it comes to video presentations that aim to teach viewers something new. Some people have a great camera presence that can capture and keep the viewer’s attention from the beginning of the video presentation to the last word. Others need a little — or lots! — of work to engage viewers. If you feel like you fall into the latter category, that’s okay. You can easily improve your on-camera presence by putting the following tips into practice.
1. Don’t Be Too Scripted
Many people who aren’t confident in front of the camera assume that writing out a full script to follow will instantly make them better. But it often does the opposite! You definitely don’t want to be reading from a script on camera if you want an impressive video presence. Doing so will make you seem overly rehearsed and even robot-like, which is not appealing to people.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to go completely off the cuff and make up all your talking points on the fly. There’s a middle ground here, and it involves writing a brief outline to follow. This way, you can glance down at your notes to stay on topic, but you’ll still spend most of your time looking at the camera and speaking naturally as you present.
If you plan to use PowerPoint while you present on video, glancing at your slides can help you stay on topic, too. Just don’t expect to read them word for word. Use them as quick reminders of what to talk about, and then expand on the topic as you speak freely from your heart.
2. Speak to Your Viewers, Not Your Camera
Another important detail to remember is that your camera lens is not your audience! Your audience is made up of individuals, and you want to make a good impression on them. So have an image in your head of your viewers before you start the video presentation. Picturing a specific person or team that you talk to regularly at work can help.
If you’re struggling to imagine talking to a specific person, go ahead and actually do it! Record yourself sending a message to one of your employees or clients. You could be wishing them a happy birthday or telling a joke. What’s important is that you record it with the intention of sending it to that person — even if you end up not sending it after all.
Once you’re done, watch the recorded message and take note of how authentic and engaging you are. You probably look like you have passion and energy in front of the camera, and that’s a great step toward having a better presence on video! Just be sure to keep that same energy for every video you make, even if it means pretending that you’re just talking to your favorite client or team of employees every time.
3. Focus on Your Body Language
Another way to improve your presence in front of the camera is to work on your body language. Just sitting in a chair facing the camera isn’t usually enough to engage viewers during your video presentation. You also need to have good posture while you present your information.
For instance, you should avoid hunching over. Instead, keep your back straight and put your shoulders back. And if you normally keep your hands in your pocket — or just feel awkward, not knowing what to do with them — try using them to your advantage. You can use your hands to communicate with body language while you talk, gesturing to illustrate your points. Let your head sway in a natural way while you talk, and keep your feet firmly on the ground during your video.
Having good posture will help you feel more relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera. But even better, it will give you a more trustworthy, authoritative look to viewers. Speakers who have good posture tend to come across as more charismatic, confident, and worth listening to in general! So work on improving your posture in your daily life in order to look and feel more prepared in front of the camera.
4. Use Feedback to Improve
As you use these tips to improve your video presence, make sure you take the time to watch yourself on camera. In fact, it’s a good idea to watch your first few videos and take notes on what you think you can improve. Then, as you work on your posture and learn additional ways to improve your video presence, watch your newer videos so you can compare to the old ones. How have you improved, and what can you still work on?
Consider some details in particular. Do you talk too fast due to nerves? Do you notice any nervous tics you didn’t even know you had, such as clearing your throat often, cracking your knuckles, or moving from foot to foot as you stand? Do you use filler words, like “um” and “like,” a lot? If so, take note of these habits and work on stopping them.
You should also get feedback from other people and listen to them. Ask your employees or coworkers to watch some of your best videos and let you know how you can improve. And if you think you’ve already improved, thanks to tips like these, ask your team to compare your old videos to your newer ones to see how much difference there is.
5. Look at Analytics for Your Videos
Another type of feedback you should use is the data you can see from any analytics programs you use. You should be able to see important metrics, such as how many views you got and how long each viewer watched the video. This will give you an idea of whether you have a good presence on video, or if you need to make some improvements.
An easy way to track analytics is to use Hive Insights 2.0, which reports aggregated event metrics that matter. They include viewer participation, viewing time, network impact, video quality, and more. You’ll even get ranking lists that show your viewers and locations by size, video experience quality, and other details.
So when you look at the feedback you get from Hive Insights 2.0, you can get an overview of how your videos are doing. And since your on-camera presence does affect the performance of your videos, this information will undoubtedly be helpful for you to have!
6. Remember That Practice Makes Perfect
As with anything, you’re going to need to practice your new on-camera habits before you can perfect them. So instead of reading these tips and then quickly creating a video that you send to everyone right away, make it a point to make some videos just for fun. Think of a topic and an audience, and make a few videos with those details in mind.
Then watch them and take notes of what else you can improve. You might notice your posture is better after just one or two videos, but you could still work on leaving out filler words. Or maybe your speech is great, but you just can’t easily break your bad posture habits and will need more time to improve.
That’s okay. No one becomes an expert on making engaging videos in just a day or two. It will take some time — and lots of practice videos — to improve your video presence. But if you’re making lots of video presentations for your business this year, it’s worth your time to get good at it to ensure your messages really resonate with your viewers.
That’s especially true when you’re trying to reach employees who have been working from home for months and are likely experiencing some video fatigue as they connect through video constantly. Those types of viewers deserve a great presentation — not a lackluster video — that will keep their interest.