Learning how to be on video

Centre for Innovation – Leiden University
Author: Centre for Innovation – Leiden University

On daily base we’re dealing with people in front of our cameras. Mostly with people of whom their experience with a camera is limited to their own Instagram pictures, or not even. How do we as mediamakers cope and ease those people to feel relax and act natural in front of the camera. For those hereunder a few tips how to make beginners at peace in front of the camera.

  • No teleprompter

I guess many videomakers do have a love/hate relationship with the teleprompter. For rattling off long pieces of copy it might work, but it does take a professional to do this with the right intonation and emotion. Especially with beginners it’s very rare that it works. Mostly it does take many tries and to cuing of the machine/iPad does take a lot of work. Besides all of this it makes you quiet immobile as well as video team. We ask the presenter to study their script as good as possible, and avoid very long takes. Especially when you use two angels, or supporting graphics you can easily cut up the scenes in small pieces. So the host only has to present small pieces of copy.

  • Stick to the message

Of course there has been a lot of thoughts into the script, but sometimes written things don’t work in the outspoken context. Or you have someone who didn’t study the script, or is trying to hard to memorize all the script. It does work to explain to them the essence of the message, and let them explain it in their own works for the camera. Additional benefit, it’s much more natural to watch as well.

  • Create a natural setting

Create a set where the presenter is feeling comfortable. You can already think about this when you are creating the concept for the video. Put the presenter in his natural habitat, for example a teacher in front of a classroom.

  • Keep the script out of side

The script is sometimes like a cellphone, when it’s in sight it’s like a lure for some people. That causes a lot of distraction, when out of side the know that they are there alone and there is no script that of the moment of recording can help them. It might sound a bit dramatic, but in most cases it works.

  • Create a conversation

For the host it does feel sometimes unnatural to start out of the sudden their story. What we often do is just before we start rolling to ask the question that there gonna answer in person to the presenter. Another option that works well is to do an interview style, this takes away an occasional awkward stare in the camera.

  • Keep it positive

This might be a very obvious one, but sometimes after redoing a take for the 20th time you slowly feel your losing your temper. Think about what your mum said, count till ten. Stay and coach the presenter positive, focus on what’s good and which element can be done differently. I never met someone who became a better performer after receiving an rage outburst. And if it doesn’t work take a coffee break, take some fresh air to create a new and fresh atmosphere.

  • Use a prop

Using a prop gives the host the possibility to talk about something and visually explaining things to the viewer. In most cases it also forces the teller to explain things in a more simple way.