How to Present on Camera

You’ve gained lots of expertise and experience standing in front of an audience presenting. It’s very natural now; engaging your groups’ attention is effortless, aligning yourself with slides is stimulating and the flow of moving around the stage is graceful.

But then some bright spark said you had to deliver your presentation on camera, online and to a lens, not people’s faces. You started hiding behind the slides, as a tiny speck in the corner of the screen. Sitting in your favourite office chair, you could get away with notes on your desk to keep you on track, which made you lazy, and the whole shenanigans seemed fake.

You yearn to stand up again, so you hook up your camera to eye level, clear the space in front, zoom your camera so you can stand further back. Once again, you have a stage to present from, but what skills do you need to master deliver well.

These are some ideas:

  • Engage with the camera lens all the time now, but you knew that. When you present on camera, you should embrace the lens as one person. Everyone has a front seat now; no one sits at the back anymore, so hug the lens as though you were acting for one person.
  • Decide where to stand to optimise your presence. Ensure you use software to zoom the webcam or use a camera with a mechanical zoom to ensure most of your body appears on camera without becoming a tiny spec. Remember the rule of thirds. Your head should be in the top two thirds with your body below.
  • Let go of your inhibitions and use your arms again. Care with this, don’t overdo it as though you’re in front of a 100 person audience. You are presenting to one person, so gesture as if you were 6 feet away from someone.
  • Decide how you’re going to move around your “stage”? Have your home position and return to this when you wish, but move around and let your camera focus. Move for a purpose. Move when changing topic or context. Move forward towards the lens when you want to make a vital point, flow backwards when you want the audience to think about what you have just said. Move with your story; for example, when I talk about using the phone, I’ll imitate a phone with my hands, and when I’m running, I’ll act this.
  • Make sure your camera has an automatic focus if you’re going to move; some cheap webcams don’t.
  • Take care of your background or what’s behind you. Green screens are possible, but when you stand to deliver and move around, this plays havoc with the lens, and the blurring discolours the whole image. Don’t.
  • I use a whiteboard behind me and make notes sometimes to enhance the message. Other times I’ll have slides alongside my presentation using a clicker to advance them along, just like in the old days of in-person events. Some presenters even wheel a real TV and present slides on the screen, just like in the old days.

When you think about it, presenting on camera with a stage isn’t that different, except your audience can be hundreds of miles away and requires a few different skills. If you master these, you will be ahead of the game as the majority are still gleefully awaiting the return of real in house events. Believe me, presenting well online is going to be very much in demand.