Want to produce more professional looking videos for YouTube or deliver slicker looking online presentations? Helena Brewer of Toastmasters International gives her top 10 tips to for appearing on the small screen…
You have prepared your presentation and it’s time for action. However, could all the preparation for your starring role be hampered by a technical glitch? It’s the last thing that you want to be concerned about when holding an online meeting, conducting a webinar, that all important interview or that international sales pitch.
Here are my ten tips to guide you through the minefield of appearing on the small screen.
1 – Your internet connection is key
There may be times when your internet connection drops out or is slower than usual. In an office with full IT support, this won’t be so much of a problem. It’s when you are working from home without IT magic that you may have to deal with going from having a full signal to nothing. Using a signal booster is one way to solve this. Another option is to use your personal hotspot as back up.
2 – Can you hear me?
Poor audio is challenging at times so check your equipment is working. Consider where you are holding the meeting, or filming the footage, in order to avoid any background noise.
Will those joining the meeting be in an office, or in the local coffee shop? Background noise can drown out what is being said. Using the mute option is a good way of ensuing you avoid unwanted noises.
However, remember to unmute yourself as there’s no point in delivering your sales pitch when no one can hear you.
3 – Headphones and microphones
Using a headset is often best as you can move freely. As there are so many different types on the market, find one that works for you. Consider ease of use, how portable they are and how you look with them on?
4 – Which software to use
There are plenty of software packages available for delivering voice over IP, video calling and virtual meetings from Google Hangouts to Cisco Webex. The ultimate is the complete virtual office location booths (or pods), when you are hosting a major presentation in which you see you colleagues from around the world sitting directly in front of you on a bank of TV screens.
For smaller businesses a full virtual office booth solution probably isn’t the correct option (though we can dream!). Find out more about the benefits and the limitations of the software packages out there.
5 – Set yourself up for the best performance
Your virtual interaction has to be treated with the same professionalism as you would a real-life meeting. With all the whizz bang kit set up, when you sit down ready to begin are you sitting comfortably?
If your chair is not high enough or if it’s to low, how will that look to those seeing you? Adjust your chair to the height that works for you. You may well be sitting for hours on the same spot, so be comfortable.
All your movements matter. If you start rocking from side to side, bobbing forward and backwards, it’ll be very distracting. If you do look down to read from any notes that you may have, will the audience enjoy looking at the top of your head and will the sound seem muffled?
6 – Language choices
In most situations particularly for work related meetings, much of the jargon will be understood by those joining. However, you may find that different countries use different terminology, you say cell phone and we say mobile phone.
It’s often a phrase or comment which may not be as readily understood that catches you out. Endeavour to avoid adding in quirky expressions which may require you using up time explaining the English language.
7 –Be aware of your surroundings
An awareness of your surroundings, particularly what’s behind you, is important. You want your meeting attendees to be focussed on your message, not artwork on your wall: the cleaner and more uncluttered the background the better.
This is particularly relevant for the first impression you make in an interview. If you have flip charts or other writing walls, clean them of any information,. Some of it may be business sensitive which you don’t want to share.
8- Get the lighting right
How well-lit is the room you are in? You may find if you’re sitting in near darkness, all your audience will see is you face, which will look ever so slightly sci-fi!
It there’s bright sun light shining at you, it may have you screwing up your eyes. Then there’s the ‘it’s behind you’ shadow figure. All very distracting for those watching you. It’s worth closing blinds and adjusting your lighting.
9 – Check all you kit works
If you are using a new software package to deliver a training session, ensure that you have had the time to practise using it. There are free tutorials with most. Have a trial run through. You may want to record the meeting and share with colleagues that were unable to attend.
You want to be able to manage the session by, for example, by muting attendees to avoid background noise. You need to do this whilst delivering your presentation.
Practise and make sure you are comfortable with it all. If your presentation or training will generate questions, decide how the attendees will interact with you. Most packages have a text based option so you can see questions coming in.
Looking at these while presenting is a challenge! Consider having a colleague with you to review the questions as they arrive. It’ll help you to cover them off seamlessly.
10 – The day has arrived
Now it’s over to you. Look the part as your appearance matters. Engage all your public speaking skills. Be aware of your non-verbal communications, such as eye contact, body language and facial gestures.
Keep your hands out of camera shot, do what newsreaders do and hold a pen or sit on them. Remember to keep a steady pace of speaking, take pauses at transition points and breath. Endeavour to engage with your audience by checking in with them and addressing their questions. Keep to the time stated.
Good luck. I hope to be seeing you on YouTube or a webinar soon!
Helena Brewer is from Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org