Avoid the Public Speaker’s Blindspot on Video

“Presenting on stage is like a Surgeon operating with a scalpel.
Presenting on-screen is like a Surgeon operating with a laser.” 


In my 20+ years of experience working in front of and behind the camera, people new to video presenting tend to come across very differently on camera than they do in the flesh.

Even confident speakers and presenters who are used to presenting on stage (or in front of a room), don’t know that they need to adapt their physical presentation style to suit the technical requirements and subtle nuances that the video medium demands.

Many “big name” speakers fall into the trap of having their larger than life stage persona, undermine and upstage their on-screen presence.

On-camera it is the subtle nuances, in facial expression, eye contact, physicality and expressiveness (confined within the frame) that can make a person look, feel and sound believable, compelling and genuine.

Presenting on Video Requires a Modified Approach

You might be great on stage in front of an audience, but being able to speak to a live audience does not necessarily mean you will come across well on video and vice versa. I see it a lot with professional speakers/presenters who want to crossover from stage to screen.

Presenting on video requires a modified approach, a fact that very few people are aware of. It requires the presenter to “pull people in” (screen presence) whereas stage presenting requires the presenter to “push out to the audience.”  Therein lies the problem for many stage presenters.  Note: this is also a common challenge for theater actors making the cross-over to film and vice-versa for screen actors crossing over to the theater stage. Each needs to learn and unlearn or modify their craft to suit the visual medium.

When I coach public speakers we work to adapt their on-camera delivery style so they can present their message to their target audience, in the most effective way possible, and help them avoid the stage vs. screen pitfalls.

“How” you deliver your message can be more important to the viewer than the message itself. 


Micro in-the-Moment but Macro On-screen

Remember that while humans have evolved as a species over several hundred thousand years, spoken language is thought to be a relatively recent invention, only tens of thousands of years old. As a result, we have evolved to be more proficient at communicating non-verbally. Our non-verbal communication is enhanced (negatively or positively) on-screen.

Without realizing it, your body language can undermine your screen presence and authority. That involuntary elbow flare-out each time the presenter speaks about pricing, the tentative, sporadic eye-movement or incongruent body language and messaging can inadvertently trigger mistrust, scepticism and doubt in the viewers experience of you.

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Your Physical Being is your Instrument

Your voice, face, body, expressions, and energy all communicate the essence of who you are. They are natural gifts that are unique to you. If used well, they can help you present yourself and your message in a deeply compelling way.

However, on-camera, if any of these expressive channels are blocked, poorly used, or underdeveloped, you will reduce the effectiveness of your video message.

Other expressive qualities include;

Unlike Stage Presenting – Sensory Feedback Doesn’t Exist On-camera

The lens doesn’t blink, smile, or give you encouraging feedback as you’d experience with real-world human interactions. This can be a disconcerting experience. It’s an all-seeing eye that captures all of your nuances in detail on screen.

If you use the right on-camera techniques supported by the right messaging it can be a powerful marketing opportunity for you. If you don’t, your video performance can negatively impact you and your brand.


It’s 80% Skill and 20% Talent 

Professional TV/Film actors, spokespeople, and presenters are trained in skills that optimize the nuances of working in front of the camera lens.  They learn proven techniques that help them to “sell the shot” (product, service, message, idea, etc). They make it look effortless and are paid well for it.

To their target audience, they are perceived as believable, likable, and relatable. They have the ability to captivate the viewer, trigger their emotions, and shape viewer attitudes to favorably regard the intended product or service. Unbeknown to you (the viewer) they (the director, actor, production, etc) are using a ton of visual persuasion techniques like;

    • Preprogrammed (unconscious) emotion-laden-triggering visual clues i.e. sex, beauty, nurturance, status envy, high/low social status
    • Status indicators that are anxiety-producing (commonly used in high-fashion advertising)
    • Subtle sex-role cues, stylistic principles, and clustering that accentuate feelings of inferiority or superiority
    • Different types of class structure for beauty – designed to trigger viewer identification
    • Engagement techniques that evoke trust or curiosity to “sell the message” on-screen.

The upside to this is that you can apply these techniques too. You can adopt screen-craft and production techniques that are specifically tailored to influence and shape the point of view for your intended audience.


If you have a question or you what me to cover a topic for you let me know. I’m always listening!





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