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Media Training: Camera Presence

  March 29, 2022

Camera Presence is a bit hard to define.  But you know it when you see it on TV, in videos and in video conferencing.  To me, it's a mixture of confidence, a mastery of non-verbal communications, eye contact, appropriate dress, a pleasant voice and of course, the ability to stay on message.  

Getting your messaging right should be your top priority.  But if you want to really shine, don't overlook the other factors.

If you are shooting a video or setting up for a video chat, you control camera positioning and background.  After two years of working from home most people have mastered the visuals of virtual meetings.  But what if you are suddenly given the opportunity to do an in-studio TV interview?

Here are some basics...

  • If your interviewer is sitting next to you in the studio, look at her and not directly in the camera.  Even if you are doing a taped interview at work, look at the reporter and not right in the camera.  The videographer likely will remind you.
  • If you are doing a remote interview (you in one studio and the interviewer in another), look directly at your camera.  
  • By doing this you are maintaining eye contact--with either your interviewer or, in a remote interview--with your audience.
  • There may be an instance when you need to look down at notes.  But make it quick.
  • You may also be asked to talk over video that is rolling and in that case you'll look at a monitor so your words match the video.  It's hard to describe something if you can't see it.

Always be sure to critique yourself, or bring in a communications expert to review the clips with you after your TV interviews.  Non-verbal elements should be reviewed as well as messaging.

  • Did you shake your head too much? 
  • Did you move your hands in an unnatural way?
  • Did you smile naturally during your introduction? There is an exception to this.  If you are being interviewed about something tragic or very serious, it obviously would not be appropriate to smile.  Just a normal resting face is what's called for. Sometimes people who are very nervous on camera will smile at odd times.  The more prepared you are for a TV interview, the less likely you will act nervously.
  • Was your chair on casters?  If so, did you control your movements?  Swinging back and forth, even slightly, is distracting.
  • How was your posture and leg positioning? 
  • Now that you see it on camera, was your clothing flattering or too busy and distracting from your messaging?
  • Did your makeup look natural?  This is not only for women.  Too much can look clownish; not enough and you may look washed out.  Did your face look sweaty?  Next time remember your blotting papers. 
  • Men, how did your shave look? You need to consider the best time to shave before an interview.  Too close to air time and a nick may be a problem.  Too early in the day and you may end up with "a five o' clock shadow."  Some guys purposely go for this look.  If you do not, time your shave to about an hour prior to your interview.
  • Did you notice any odd habits?  During our media training sessions, many clients discover they have what can be distracting habits.  Once they see it for themselves, they can work on corrections.  This could be: clearing your throat too often, pursing your lips, finger drumming, and the list goes on. 
  • It's not just non-verbal bad habits you need to watch out for.  Are you someone who adds, "um" or "you know" to many of your responses?  It's a kind of stalling technique that people often don't realize they use.
  • Did your speak clearly, naturally, and in proper tempo?  How was your pitch?  A case of on-air jitters can lead to unnaturally fast speech or a higher pitched voice.  If you're bothered by how you sound and think it may be distracting, consider a voice coach or media trainer.   

    Media Training Options
    by Women Media Pros


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