Pointers to Look and Sound Your Best On Camera
Larry: Now that many of us find ourselves at home and video chatting with the world, Jonathan Barkan sent me the following tips.
WE’RE ALL ON-CAMERA TALENT NOW
Communications for Learning
During my 48-year career as a media producer/director I’ve conducted hundreds of on-camera interviews. No matter who is in the “hot seat,” the objective is always the same – flatter the talent. And help them to be comfortable and at ease.
These days, like it or not, we’re all pretty much on our own to look and sound great on camera. Key ingredients are lighting, audio quality, and the setting. A deficiency in one drags down the others and the overall quality of our message. Whether it’s an internal meeting or a marketing presentation, presenting a lecture or participating in a webinar, we’re learning how hard it is to be genuine, to look into the camera, and represent ourselves and our brands well on camera.
Today’s cameras are a modern day phenomenon and are very forgiving. But here are a few pointers to look and sound your best.
- Position your laptop or web camera at eye level.
- Turn off unflattering top lights to avoid dark eye sockets.
- A desk lamp off to the side, perhaps a bit above the sight line, will be an ideal “key.” Soften the light with anything translucent, or dim it down. A nearby wall can be “fill” on your other side, or hang a sheet or use a white board as a “bounce card.”
- Position yourself as far from the background as possible. Make it darker than you to create lighting “ratio”; don’t sit in front of a window. And be sure to remove laundry baskets or other personal items. Online streaming platforms include virtual backgrounds or you can create you own. If you include your business’s logo, your should probably run it by the “logo police.”
- If you need notes, don’t try to hang them next to or below the camera. With poor eye contact you’ll seem disingenuous to viewers. Better to hold notes, be clear you’re using them, or simply look down to refer to them.
- Be sure to control or eliminate background audio like kids or a radio in the next room, outdoor traffic, or appliances that are running. If the room acoustics are too “live,” lay a blanket on a table in front of you or hang one nearby to eliminate “slap.” Sound blankets really work and your audiences will appreciate the difference they make.
- What the camera doesn’t see, the audience doesn’t either. You’d be amazed at how many newscasters are in jeans or barefoot when on the air. Sure, stay in pajamas but only below the waist and out of view. Be prepared with a way to cover the camera if necessary.
- It’s always better to wear solid colors with minimal fine details. Flat black or white clothes may not “pull you” from the background for the best image or fool the camera’s auto exposure capability.
There’s really no reason to look or sound bad when you appear online. An additional incentive is that recording capability means you might regret how you “look and feel” years from now or even sooner!
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