Channel your inner TV personality on your next video call

Is your online conference call the same as hosting your own TV show?

Well, maybe.

So, maybe you don't have a fancy studio complete with a glam squad and floor director. {Spoiler alert: most local TV stations don't either}

Your time on your web camera might be more like being on a television camera than you think. Or, at least, it should be.

Here's why.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Maybe you aren't schooled on how to properly light or frame yourself on camera (Hey, call me. It's what I do!). But I find it hard to believe you've never SEEN anyone on television. Imitate what you've seen!

Direct light on your face, avoid shadows and frame yourself just like you see those anchors on television. Shoulders and up is a great rule for framing and bringing your camera to eye-level will instantly make you look better.

I'm consistently amazed at the number of people I see on video who don't even have their entire face in the frame or are terribly off-center. Take a look at the little window on your screen that has your picture in it. Would you change the channel or keep watching?

Let there be light!

You don't need studio lighting to light yourself well. Good lighting is easy to find, but how to place it in a flattering way is a little bit more of an art. Put a bright light (like the kind from a window) on your face and try to mitigate shadows with other light sources. Don't be afraid to turn up the brightness. This might mean you need to wear a little more makeup to show your features. Men, don't be afraid of a little powder on your nose and forehead. All the anchormen you know do it.

Say what you see

"Write to video" is a phrase in television journalism that means to say what your audience is seeing. When the weather guy talks about rain coming tomorrow, he points to the rain on the graphic behind him. Slides, video and graphics are excellent visual elements to enhance your presentation, but the human brain connects more to seeing other human faces than graphics. So, don't overuse your decks. Use a split screen or picture-in-picture still showing your face when it makes sense. Slides and graphics are excellent tools, but shouldn't take the main stage.

That being said, consider the multiple devices your audience may be using to connect with you. Adapt your presentation graphics to be simple, easy to read with few words and self-explanatory graphics.

Voice goals

Early in my career, I was told my "non-authoritative" voice would hold me back from ever getting a job in a bigger market. It wasn't long after that a different boss told me my voice really set me apart and would take me far in my career. Go figure.

This point should be not to take to heart every piece of feedback you receive, but I digress.

Your voice matters. Your tone is immensely important to create audience engagement. If you are excited and passionate about your presentation, it will come through in your voice. If you are bored and monotone, it will evoke that matched reaction from your audience. So if you want an engaged and passionate audience, you have to be engaged and passionate yourself; the best way to do that is through your voice. A monotone voice kills any presentation. Keep it conversational, change pace and tone to emphasize particular points. Give the impression you are talking with your audience, not at them.

Use a script

There's nothing wrong with using a script. It's a great way to stay on point and pay attention to time. Particularly on video calls, people have a tendency to fill empty space... in other words, ramble. Writing for television is different from writing for print. When it comes to video conferencing, you aren't writing an email newsletter for someone to read every word, you are presenting on camera with a conversational tone. It's a different way of writing because your audience is listening to you and not reading what you have to say.

Using an app with a TelePrompTer function or even keeping a script on your screen is a great way to make sure you stay on message. The most common downfall of this is that you appear to be reading because... well, you are.

The solution to this is to script using main points/bullet points instead of full sentences. This helps you remain conversational without going off topic.

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