Presenting on Video: More Rx Vocal Tips

Using your voice is such an integral part of video presentations that it deserves more attention than you’d think. This post is devoted to exploring additional tips and tricks to ensure your voice is up to par, so you can sound great for your viewers.

Keeping hydrated is one of the key tips to ensuring your voice doesn’t crack during “takes,” or cause you to make vocal mistakes that lengthen your shoot with more “takes” than you wanted. The all-time best way to keep your vocal cords hydrated is by drinking water. Room temperature water is best, as chilled water can constrict your throat. Stay away from caffeinated drinks too, and of course, alcoholic beverages, as they can really dry out your vocal cords.

Contant clearing of your throat is also rough on your throat and can stress vocal chords. If you find that you’re someone who habitually clears your throat, try light swallowing instead when you feel that urge. Soft humming is also a way to get past the throat tickle, but helps you remove the urge in a healthier way. Humming is also a great way to warm-up your voice and keep your cords working for you, not against you.

The wonderful thing about video is that you don’t need to shout or project a theatre voice for the camera. Thankfully, your microphone does all the amplification for you. Of course, you’ll still need breath support from your diaphragm in your lower abdomen to have a resonant voice, but you won’t have to strain your voice by pushing your own volume.

Sometimes speakers’ voices on video have a static to them or noisy ambience, this can sometimes be attributed to what happens when the video is compressed. Be careful when you reduce your video’s file size and bandwidth, so that it doesn’t compress your audio in a way that makes the speaker’s voice filled with static or tinny sounding.

Finally, remember that a credible, confident, and solid voice comes from good posture. Surprising, I know . . . but true. Slouching can constrict your voice and your breath support, neither of which is helpful to a video presenter on-camera.

Applying these few simple tips can ensure that your voice is ready to go . . . the next time you present on video.

What voice tips have you used successfully?

On-camera Presentation Framework: Visual Staging

When you watch videos on Vimeo, YouTube or websites, you’ll notice a variety of background contexts for speakers, some of which are conducive and some of which are distracting. For example, you might observe baby owl wallpaper in the background, piles of books and paper, orange paint on the walls, personal portraits, or even doors and windows behind the speaker. This staged background for your online video shoot is “visual staging,” and this is the third core element of the On-camera Presentation framework (see graphic below) that we’ll explore next.

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The guiding principle when it comes to visual staging is to remove distractions that could upstage your content. Your message (verbal and nonverbal) is the most important piece in an online video. If the clothing you wear, the desk behind you, the equipment on the floor, or the cluttered bookcase grab attention and focus viewers away from you and your message, your visual stage needs to be remedied. Let’s explore some of the things you can do to ensure that your message is the central element of your video.

First, look through the monitor before recording to view the camera frame as a potential viewer would. You’ll observe excessive jewelry that competes for attention, the mini refrigerator in the shot that could be moved out of frame, the plant that sticks over the head of the presenter that makes her look like she’s wearing antennas, or the speaker wearing a black shirt sitting on a black chair that makes him look like Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars. When you just look at the scene in real life, you’re missing the perspective of the viewer who sees only what’s in frame.

If, however, you are shooting a medical video, it is appropriate to have medical equipment in the background or to shoot on location in a medical context. Additionally, if you’re talking about travel, it’s appropriate to have a globe in the background, etc. However, when there is so much visual noise and competition in the background, it is useful to employ a backdrop to bring neutrality to the scene and make the speaker “pop” instead of the background. You can use a professional studio’s background or on a shoestring budget, invest in a solid color fabric that can be weighted and hung behind you, etc.

Clothing also contributes to the visual staging. Avoid wearing clothing that will call attention to itself. For example, black can be absorbed by a darker background and white can reflect light. Extremely loud colors, stripes, and logos can draw our focus and distract our attention. Overall, it’s best to wear solid, muted colors on-camera.

Overall, visual staging needs to keep the presenter the main event, and support the speaker’s content, not compete with it. If you follow these simple tips and techniques, you will be well on your way to staging a successful video.

What say you?

Presentation Framework: On-camera Presence

Have you ever watched an online video and immediately clicked off the video or rolled your eyes at the presenter on your mobile device or computer? If you did, you experienced what it’s like when an online video presenter is unsuccessful at building on-camera presence with you, the viewer.

This post will continue to explore the framework model of on-camera presentations by focusing on the second core element, “on-camera presence.” Our last post addressed the first core element, message design.

On-camera presence includes a wide variety of delivery elements. Through establishing and building presence, you create rapport with the viewer and build credibility in their eyes. How is credibility established? Quite simply through your ability to look directly into camera lens and establish eye contact. This connection is the most powerful, and even though the speaker needs to imagine their viewers are immediately in front of them, it can feel very real to viewers.

Additional components of establishing presence include coming across as personable, informal, and natural onscreen. Because the more natural you can be, the more effective you can be. The best way to do this is to use informal language and a conversational tone. If, however, gestures seem contrived, speakers appear to be reading a script verbatim, or the like, the relationship between speaker and viewer feels distanced, and a connection is not made.

There are many other elements which contribute to successful establishment of presence. Vocal variety and conversational tone, as well as confident body posture and attentive focus all contribute positively to presence.

One of the best ways to establish relationship with your off screen viewers is to rehearse delivering your message to real people in a real context. Tranfer that experience to the camera frame, and you will find that your delivery is much more natural. Natural will have greater reach and impact.

In order for viewers to receive your message, whether you’re attempting to entertain, inform, or educate them, the relationship starts by building a persona that is likable to viewers. If we like what we see, we will listen to you, and we may just act on it.

What say you?

On-Camera Presentation Framework: Message Design

I remember when fonts first emerged on the word processing scene. Because we now had the world (or keys) at our fingertips and could display text however we wished, we did just that. After a short stint of reading documents with multiple fonts on one page, however, we realized the necessity for ground rules and–shall we say–acceptable protocol.

This same notion reared its head once again in the transition from classroom training to e-learning. All was fair game in the beginning as learning and coursework were transitioned online. As time went on, however, we realized that applying certain principles and strategies to online learning made it more effective while other techniques were less effective.

In today’s world, once again, we find ourselves in that place of change as a new medium explodes with growing popularity–online video. Online video is becoming the new medium for communicating, informing, entertaining, educating, and even marketing. The challenge, however, is that most professionals and individuals do not have experience or training presenting on-camera, framing a shot, or staging an effective backdrop.

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In response to this need, our company has found the above model helpful with clients. This model serves as a guiding framework for developing the skill sets for presenting effectively in video. The model is called “4 Core Elements of On-camera Presentations.”

This post will be dedicated to the first core element, message design. Message design includes many areas from content to language choice and supporting visuals to opening hooks. At its heart, message design is about placing yourself in the shoes of the viewer and asking what should this video include, address, or teach from the viewer’s perspective? Because after all, it’s ultimately all about the viewer.

Message design also includes your content outline for your video presentation. To begin, you want to isolate and identify the effect you want to produce in viewers with your video. This effect is also the impact, shown above on the model with the outstretched arrows. Then, working backward you can draft your video script to include the components that will bring about that effect.

Message Design also includes openers that hook your audience’s attention which means it’s not just “Hi, I’m XXX.” Keep in mind, that in the video world, you will always be competing for viewer attention. Even after you’ve successfully grabbed a viewer’s attention, we still have to maintain it. Openers can be startling statements, humorous visuals, though-provoking questions, pithy quotations, surprising statistics, etc. Just remember, you need to hook your viewer in those first few seconds.

Other aspects of message design include word choice/language, transitions, participatory cues, including supporting visuals where clarification is needed, concision and not repetition, overall content organization, and a “memorable” last impression. Thanks to the recency effect, if you’ve managed to persuade your viewer into watching the duration of your video, the last thing viewers see is what they’ll remember most.

Stay tuned for discussion in future posts of other key elements for skill development in on-camera presentations.

What do you think might be missing from this model? What say you?