Top 3 On-Camera Presentation Tips for Talking Head Videos

Short and to the point, these are the top three things you need to know about on-camera presentation before doing your next talking head video.

1. Sustain eye contact with the camera lens for as long as possible.  

This means blink as little as possible without looking like a zombie.  Normally we blink once every couple seconds. If you pay attention to news presenters and any actor doing a direct address (House of Cards, anyone?) you'll notice that they blink about once every ten seconds.  This can take a bit of practice, but it will strengthen your on-camera presentation immensely.  

2.  Use gesture.  

There is the notion, even with new actors, that if you move too much you're going to somehow upset the camera frame.  Not true.  The camera loves to watch motion.  In fact, that's its favourite thing in the world to watch.  So don't feel like you need to sit or stand stalk still as you present yourself on camera.  In this case, don't model yourself after newscasters.  Model yourself after the actors in The Godfather (without the blood shed).  And gesture as much as feels good to you.

3.  Finally, don't push.  

This is an acting tip that is extremely important and often overlooked, especially on YouTube. What Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey have in common, and the reason they are mega-successful television personalities, is that they are masters of the calm direct address.  They haven't climbed to the top by yelling at viewers; they've climbed to the top by speaking calmly and with authority.  They are clear and they speak directly to the camera, without pushing.  

Now when I say pushing, I'm referring to that common practice of semi-yelling as if the microphone is a mile away.  Watch a few episodes of either Martha Stewart Living or Oprah and pay attention to their delivery.  They will teach you the lesson that if you want to be taken seriously, you need to make sure your voice reaches the microphone without pushing. 

So now that you're armed with these 3 tips, start practicing.  Practice while sitting, while standing, while looking in the mirror, while roaming the house.  Try and practice every day for at least a few days and then go shoot your talking head video.  

-Colette Nichol, Vancouver