A good film director will coach their actors and presenters to deliver an on-screen performance that conveys the content of the script effectively and authentically. Unfortunately, most of us who are filming our own video presentations don’t have the luxury of a director behind the camera to coach us to deliver a great performance.
Here are some of my “director” recommendations to get you on the right track:
Good Direction Starts with the Script
You cannot present a compelling on-screen delivery if your scripting is weak and lacks focus. Every director knows that you can stack a Hollywood movie full of A-list actors, but if the script sucks, so does the movie.
Avoid winging it. Your script is your lifeline. It will stay with you throughout the whole production process i.e. planning/filming and editing.
Get very clear on the key messages you want to communicate to your target audience, and plan the best way to get those messages across. A well-structured script will help you stay focused and stay on topic. When you know what you are going to say it helps to reduce on-camera nervousness too.
Speak Like a Human
Many times I see clients trying to deliver messages that might look good on paper, but bear no resemblance to how people speak in life. If you are writing your own scripts, read every sentence aloud as you write, and write exactly as you speak.
Use contractions. For example, don’t write, “I would like” if you normally say “I’d like” when you speak. Using contractions keeps the tone of your script friendly and conversational.
- TIP: If your script doesn’t roll off the tongue easily, or you find yourself tripping on certain words, don’t ignore these signs thinking you’ll “get it” on the day. If it’s not flowing well in the draft it most definitely won’t flow well when you are filming.
- Also, only use words that you are familiar with and can pronounce correctly. Remember, most video viewers want their information delivered in fast, succinct chunks.
“You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail”.
Learn Your Material
Even the best script will bark like a dog if the presenter does not make the time to learn their material and become confident with the flow of the script prior to filming. Either the presenter sits there with a glazed look in their eyes as they try to recall what to say next, or they gabble on nervously filling the empty space with lots of words, but not communicating the key messages effectively.
A good director will make sure you know your script thoroughly before you get in front of the camera. As you may know from my previous articles, I am not a fan of using an autocue or teleprompter. See my post: Reading From an Autocue? I’m Not Buying it!
Charlie Parker, the great jazz trumpet player famously said, “You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.”
It’s the same with presenting on video. Start with a great script. Then practice, practice, practice! Learn your content so that you “own your words”. You should be able to “pick-up” and start from any place in your script if you pause while filming.
Embrace the Rehearsal Process
No professional film production would ever skip the rehearsal process and just wing it on the day, and neither should you! Everyone on the film set including the lighting crew, the camera operators, the actors, and the director all rehearse prior to filming!
Embrace the rehearsal process. It gives you an opportunity to correct any issues. Rehearsing gets you mentally, physically and emotionally primed and it builds your inner confidence. The more prepared you are, the better you’ll handle any issues that crop up on the day. Rehearsing helps to reduce stress. Plus it frees up valuable brain space so that you can just let it flow and have fun with your performance.