by George Avgerakis:
1. Take Time for Excellence: Your time is precious. A good video presentation is a powerful force multiplier. Many executives, faced with competing priorities, are tempted to rush through their rehearsal and recording sessions. The effort of making an effective video presentation pays significant dividends. Your video may be replayed, often for months, repaying your investment in time a thousandfold.
2. Trust Your Director: Directors who have mastered their craft well enough to be supervising your presentation have likely excelled as far in their trade as you have in yours. Your director has a wide range of skills focused on making you look your best, feeling relaxed and focused on your presentation. A good director will adapt to your style, but be willing to take direction. Special care should be given if the Director is your own employee. Eschew dishonoring the prophet in his hometown.
3. First Name Basis Is Best: Video studios are essentially informal. With rare exceptions, directors and crews will be dressed casually and the command structure may not be apparent. You can fit in and make everybody more relaxed by introducing yourself on a first name basis and treating the crew with equanimity. No one gets greater respect than a powerful person who comes across like a regular Joe or Jane.
4. Don’t Be A Desk Jockey: Too many corporate videos begin with the CEO sitting behind his desk making a speech. Your Director should be able to suggest meaningful venues; the assembly line at 2AM, a dealer’s show room, the engineering floor. Try to stage the shot so that you can move through it and look like you have a purpose there. Video is an audio and visual medium. Use both to maximum communicative advantage.
5. Cite Specifics: Chiefs, by definition, deal in broad, general issues and strategies. Employees, individual investors and even some institutional viewers often misinterpret chief executives as being vague and disconnected. Try to cite specific issues and individuals in your company that exemplify your strategies and underscore your awareness of opportunities at all levels.
6. Maintain Eye Contact: Admittedly, it is very hard to look into a cold, glass lens and pretend you are talking to a friend, much less a few thousand people. However, allowing your eyes to wander from the lens, even for a second, makes you look “shifty eyed” and creates the disastrous impression that you are not to be trusted.
7. Sit On Your Coat Tails: When seated before a camera, take this tip from the movie, “Broadcast News.” Even the best tailored jacket looks best when pulled tightly down in back, thus avoiding a hump of fabric behind the neck. Stand up, pull your jacket tails down and sit on them, for a razor sharp shoulder line.
8. Dress for the Screen: Avoid wearing shirts, scarves or ties with thin stripes or suites with visible texture or pinstripes. Thin lines tend to create annoying “moire” effects as they interfere with the horizontal lines that compose a TV picture. The ubiquitous white shirt should also be avoided in favor of a pastel since video is not kind to bright, colorless contrasts.
9. Avoid Noisemakers: Your audio may be recorded by a tiny microphone attached to your lapel or tie, or from a “shotgun” mike somewhere above your line of sight. Women should plan their wardrobe to include a logical place to pin the microphone. The best place is right over your heart, so avoid a low hanging necklace. Avoid noisy jewelry. Your normal level of speech will do fine, but don’t bring along unwanted competition.
10. Don’t Expect Cue Cards: Unless you have perfectly memorized your presentation, determine in advance what script assistance you will use. The best is a computer generated teleprompter which allows you to read your script, in large letters, directly over the camera lens so that your eyes maintain perfect alignment with your audience. Do not, under any circumstances, use cue cards. Cue cards cannot place the script over the lens, your expression will look wall-eyed.
11. Tell Them What You Look Like: Once you arrive on the set, the lighting crew will require a few moments to tune the lights to your appearance. You can save a lot of time by letting them know what you look like and how you would like to be staged. A simple description, written in the third person and delivered to the producer a day or so before the taping will be greatly appreciated. Include a picture, if possible. Helpful items to note: Height, weight, hair color and/or lack of hair, eyeglasses (if needed to read the Teleprompter) and whether you prefer sitting, standing or walking during your presentation.
12. Take The Makeup: Female chief executives never balk at makeup and hairstyling, but even in this multimedia age, a lot of men refuse this greatest of assets. A sweaty brow or upper lip, a shiny forehead, an annoying blemish, bags and dark circles under the eyes, recalcitrant cowlicks, can all be toned away under the skillful ministrations of a good makeup and hair person. Welcome this costly luxury. No. Demand it!
And two more tips specifically for news interview situations:
13. Speak in Bites: In a recorded interview, keep your sentences short and end with a full stop. This allows the video editor the greatest flexibility in fitting your statements within the length of your story. Long, rambling statements tend to get left on the editing room floor or, worse, edited into something which may not resemble what you intended.
14. Ums and Ahs: In interviews, many people have the tendency of filling in pauses with “ums,” “ahs” and guttural “frying” sounds. The resulting video creates a terrible impression and cost at least one Presidential hopeful the White House. Learn to catch these sounds before they emerge and substitute…silence. You’re an important person. The audience will wait to hear what you say and the editor, thankful for an easy place to cut your “bite,” will likely take out the dead air anyway.
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