On Camera Do's and Don'ts

I Want You To Like Me: Your On Camera Persona

When creating any sort of training, you always want to make sure it is informational yet also enjoyable for the learner. When creating learning videos, you can’t just focus on the content you are delivering. You really need to put focus on your talent, whether it be you or someone else. You absolutely have to have someone on screen that is likable and enjoyable. If your talent is dull and boring, the learner is going to lose interest almost immediately. For example, I wouldn’t want Kip from Napolean Dynamite doing a training video. Yes, his character is hysterical, but just imagine that personality, dull, monotone, seemingly emotionless personality trying to get someone excited about, let’s say, learning about Excel. Instead, I think I would rather use someone like Shakira when she’s on The Voice. Super energetic, excited and has great on camera presence.

Now, you could be saying to yourself “I’m not comfortable in front of the camera.” If that’s the case, find someone else to be your talent, or keep practicing until you are comfortable. It makes a difference!!! To help you get started I will give you some tips to focus on and you can start practicing.

 

Appearance

This may seem cynical, but it makes a big difference. If you don’t feel like you look your best, you won’t do your best. It may seem silly, but it’s absolutely true. Make sure the day you will be filming that you take a little extra time getting ready. Think of it almost like a first date. Would you show up to a first date in sweatpants and an oversized shirt? No, no you wouldn’t. For a first date you always want to look your best and feel your best. This could be the first time the learner is seeing you, so you want to make sure that from here on out they look forward to your videos when they see your face appear on the screen.

 

Mannerisms

A lot of people, and I mean a lot of people, have no idea what to do with their hands. We have a running joke in our studio; we constantly quote Talledega Nights when Ricky Bobby (played by Will Farrell) is being interviewed by ESPN and doesn’t know what to do with his hands.

Talladega Nights

 

It’s actually fairly important what you do with your hands. If you keep them lingering on your side, that’s just awkward and you don’t seem interested. If you aren’t interested, how are your learners supposed to be interested? Some people think that if you frame the shot a certain way that it’s okay for your arms to stay to your side, this is absolutely false.

Use your hands to enhance the message you are delivering. Keep your arms moving and slightly bent. Now don’t think I mean you should flail your arms about, that’s not conducive either. How would you use your hands when talking to a friend? When telling someone a story? You want to incorporate those natural movements into your on camera presence. It’s obvious when you are uncomfortable and forcing non-natural movements. So just work on your hand gestures in everyday situations and it’ll start to just come naturally, even on camera.

 

Facial Expressions

Facial expressions are of course a part of your mannerisms, but truthfully they deserve their own section in regards to this topic. When on camera, people are staring right at your face. Over the years I have become very aware of what I do with my face when speaking, so much so that I know if I say “take a look” I take a dramatic, slower blink than normal. In the field of instructional design, you always want to make sure you are inviting. Make sure your eyes are fully open (not in a creepy way though) and make sure to smile! However, if you are covering a serious training, alter your facial expression accordingly. For example, we recently did a video on Bystander Intervention. While I still want to appear inviting, it is important not to be smiling from ear to ear while talking about sexual assault. Have a more serious, firm facial expression, but make sure your eyes are still open and engaged. You’ll notice this with news anchors. When they report about a homicide they aren’t grinning, but they still have emotion on their face.

The more you are in front of the camera and reading scripts, the easier it’ll be to determine the emotion you need to depict on your face.

 

Voice

Your voice! I want to say this is obvious but honestly, some people don’t know they are monotone until someone points it out. Listening to a monotone speaker on a training could possibly be one of the worst things to endure.

Remember those old trainings you had to take for your first job? I remember one of mine vividly, Wetzels Pretzels. A very monotone man led me through the everyday tasks of cleaning the store, making pretzels and HR related issues. Do I remember anything specific about that training? Absolutely not. I zoned out almost instantly.

So what I’m getting at here is make sure to have feeling in your voice! If you are talking about a dull topic, seem excited! Don’t be ‘I had 10 cups of coffee this morning’ excited, but be interested in your own information and let that show through your voice. Inflection is key! Again, practice makes perfect!

 


 

These are just a few key factors that should be given a little extra attention when in front of the camera. There is a lot more to cover, but this is a great place to start.

Ultimately, what you want your learner to think the second they see you on the screen is essentially, “YES!!! Oh, this is going to be great. This guy/girl is the best”. That’s what you need to aim for. Aim for them to be excited to hear the information you are delivering. If the viewer likes you, they are more likely to pay attention to your training.

 

Have any questions or any tricks of your own that you use to help your on camera persona? Let us know in the comments below!

Audrey is a senior Instructional Designer with the Learning & Professional Development team at Northern Arizona University. She has a B.S. in Electronic Media and Film with an emphasis in Entertainment Management and an M.Ed. in Educational Technology from NAU. With her experience as a newsroom weather director and on-screen talent, as well as multiple years of experience teaching in a university classroom setting, Audrey brings a unique perspective to the LPD team.

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