One of the bizarre side-effects of Coronavirus is that most people in the business world now spend more time than ever before talking to the camera.
These can involve online meetings on Zoom, Teams, Skype, Google Hangouts or some other form of internet hook-up.
As you take part you’re talking to the camera that’s inside your computer, your mobile or your tablet.
So the way you’re perceived by others very much depends on how you perform when speaking to that high-tech collection of metal, glass and plastic.
Alas many people are not crash-hot at it – and often feel uncomfortable as they do it.
The good news is that talking effectively to the camera is a learnable skill.
As a recovering broadcast journalist, I’m used to talking to the camera – usually with something significant in the background.
I well remember that, when you’re starting out, it feels rather strange to be talking to the camera lens.
But when you see yourself back, you’re reminded how important it is to get it right – and the process helps iron out any repetitive quirkily distracting head or body movements.
GETTING YOUR EYE CONTACT RIGHT
One of the techniques I learned was that you come across better when you picture one of your viewers in your mind as you speak – and chat to him or her as if they’re just on the other side of the camera.
This means that rather than talking to an inanimate object, you’re coming across in a more human way.
It helps you to effectively connect with your audience – ideally with the right degree of warmth.
When you’re talking in an online hook-up, it’s theoretically easier to get this eye-contact right, because the people you’re communicating with appear on the screen in front of you as you talk.
But the downside of this is that if you look at the faces on your screen as you speak, it means you’re not looking straight at the actual camera.
When this happens, those you’re on a hook-up with can feel as if you’re not looking them in the eye.
At its worst, this can make you seem more distant – and even impolite.
So when you’re in any on-line hook-up, be sure to sure to know where on your machine your tiny camera is located so you can look at it and come across as fully engaged.
FACE-TO-FACE OR ONLINE LEARNING SESSIONS
There are many other things to do in order to look your best – and sound your best – while on screen.
This can involve coming across in a more animated way than you might do at a face-to-face meeting.
Dealing with this aspect and others are covered in communications-boosting sessions I run on Talking To The Camera.
Sessions can be conducted face-to-face (socially distanced) where possible – or run through on online hook-ups.
As virtual meetings and events are likely to be playing a bigger part in your future than they have in the past, it’s worth going to the effort to shine out.
An additional benefit of enhancing the Talking To The Camera skills of you and your team is that it also helps when you make videos that you can put on your website or on Youtube.
These can be edited by my technical colleagues who can – if you need to do several takes – pick the best of each effort and edit them together.
There’s more about that in this video here – recorded back in the days when you were allowed to visit your barber or hairdresser.
Talking To The Camera sessions can be done 1-to-1 or in groups.
Where there’s a larger number of people to be trained, it can involve my professional speaking colleague, Nicci Roscoe, to ensure everyone gets more individual practice time.
Nicci brings the added benefit of her experience talking to the camera while leaping about on screen as a TV health & fitness presenter on Sky, BBC and ITV.
Learning-by-doing it is the best way to improve – as you get instant feedback as you go.
BECOMING ONE WHO SHINES OUT ON SCREEN
Zoom alone now claims to have 300-million people a day using its services.
Some of them are very very good at coming across well, and some are er…. not so good.
If you want to have a chat about being one of those who shines out, call
44 (0) 7944 952835 – or email email@example.com
Sessions will make you look better on screen – even if, like me, you’re in urgent need of a Corona Times haircut!