In my previous article Avoid these Common Eye Contact Pit-falls, in some ways the camera lens can be likened to a staring eye that observes you with a level of intensity that we do not experience in our everyday life.
However, you also need to remember that your viewing audience sees you through that eye – so what it stands for and what it captures is very important when it comes to setting the scene for your video presentation.
Some people have a natural ability to look good on video. It’s not necessarily about being physically attractive either. Yes, those fortunate to have been born with good genetics do have some advantages, but physical beauty does not necessarily translate to looking good on video.
Others seem to just “pop” onscreen. They genuinely enjoy putting themselves on video and know how to put their “best self” forward. This talent comes naturally to some, but for most of us, it is a learned skill.
Being able to speak to a live audience does not necessarily mean you will come across well on camera.
Video Presenting – Requires Completely Different Skillset From Stage Speaking
This is a fact few people are aware of. Being able to speak to a live audience does not necessarily mean you will come across well on-screen.
When members of an audience are watching a presenter on stage they have choices about where to look. They can look at the speaker, the stage, the visual aids, other audience members, or more often, their small-screen devices and laptops.
The level of scrutiny an audience has towards the stage presenter is greatly reduced due to the distance the audience is from the speaker.
If the presentation is filmed from the stage very rarely will the stage speaker be shot in a scrutinizing (let’s see you sweat) close-up. Nor will the speaker talk to or engage directly with the camera lens.
When viewed from stage The viewing experience a “third-person restricted point of view” a filming style of narrative that is most common in TV and film.
The Camera Picks up Every Nuance and Micro Expression
Presenting to the camera is more like having your viewer in your personal space, standing 4 feet away from you. It’s here that your screen presence and everything that you bring to the frame can be readily scrutinized by the lens (your viewer).
Your filming device picks up on every little facial nuance, micro expression, pupil dilation, even your mental and emotional state of mind. In my coaching sessions, clients have worked through issues like on-camera performance tension, anxiety, eye-contact issues, and excessive blinking as a result of this.
Some of my clients who’ve had success on the stage, often appear disconnected from their video message on-screen i.e. speaking without conviction, having no felt emotion, or no strong point-of-view about their subject matter.
Other clients are unaware of their habitual masking behaviours i.e. “Barbie-dolling it, wearing a pasted-on smile or inauthentic expression throughout their entire video message. Some over or under emote. Under the scrutiny of the lens, their presenting style comes across as disingenuous on-screen, negatively impacting their ability to be persuasive on video.
The Camera Doesn’t lie
These coping strategies often provide short term relief from discomfort, but the camera only heightens and magnifies the issue on video.
Unlike the stage, your viewer has nothing else to look at except what you have framed in the shot. This means that everything within the frame takes on a greater significance.
The advantage is that you can control your audience’s gaze. You can tell them where to look, and what to pay attention to. It’s the same way that film directors work. They control all the visual elements within the frame to influence and shape the audience’s attention, experience, and emotion.
To Sum Up
The video camera sees things differently. What looks good to the human eye (you) may look completely different on camera – and vice versa.
- The 3-dimensional world is flattened into 2 dimensions. On-screen this impacts how your energy levels come across on video
- Some colors appear different, as well as how they contrast with other colors and skin tones
- Clothing colors and styles, plus accessories – their patterns, color, and shape can all appear distorted
- Make-up applied using the wrong base tones can look unflattering on camera
- Some types of light can give your skin tone a green, golden, bluish, red hue
- Improper lighting can deepen facial contours, magnify creases and lines and make you appear older
- Tight patterns or pinstripes on clothing take on a life of their own creating a highly distracting moiré pattern
- A person can appear larger or smaller on camera than they actually are. When you see people in life, you can contrast them with the environment, but on video, you only see what’s inside the frame
- The use of different angles and frames can greatly manipulate the viewer’s perceptions and emotions – altering their viewing experience of you and the effectiveness of your message
Bonus tip: Before filming, always check how you appear on camera, by capturing a quick test video and watching it through an actual TV or computer monitor – not just through your camera viewfinder.
If you have a question or you want me to cover a topic for you let me know. I’m always listening! And, you can always book a time with me to get the tailored support and guidance you need on any of the performance areas covered in this post. Or learn more about my services here.
Established in 2006 Bianca Te Rito, founder of STEBIAN.com provides an exclusive, consulting service helping business thought leaders, speakers, award-winning authors & VIPs productize their thought leadership and present themselves, their products, services, or brand message to their target audience in the most effective way possible on video. Get the tailored expertise from a real-world operator with over 20 years of TV/Film industry experience working in front of and behind the camera. Learn more about our custom offers here.