The Mechanics Of A Video Taping Session: How To Look, Dress And Act On Camera

Ten tips to help you avoid the "elephants" and "mosquitos" of poor video taping and create a professional, effective video production.

On many occasions, I am asked for some tips and techniques on preparing for a video taping session. Here are 10 of the most common tips I provide to help prevent some of the more common mistakes made during a video taping session. Some are Elephants. Some are Mosquitoes.

1. Always remove your name badge when speaking. Regardless if you are videotaping or not, when you wear a name badge while you are speaking, it can be a distraction. This is an Elephant.

2. Treat the camera like an audience member. If you don't, and never make eye contact with it, the viewer will feel left out--like an audience member whom you never make eye contact with. This too is an Elephant.

3. No darting eyes at anytime while speaking, especially when videotaping. By "darting eyes" I mean quickly shifting from one focal point to another without making actual eye contact with the audience. To really connect with an audience, you must win them over one at a time. I like the technique Lee Glickstein teaches in his coaching programs. As soon as you take the platform, begin the process. Find your first connection, make eye contact for a couple seconds. Once you begin speaking, keep the process going. Make eye contact with the next audience member (3 seconds or so) then move on to the next connection. Within 10-15 minutes, you will have connected with various audience members and have them engaged with you and listening intently.

4. Perhaps you could try more silence during your presentation. This will allow your words to sink in a bit with the audience. For example, when you are introduced, do not talk at all while entering the stage. Rather, take the stage in silence, take in the energy the audience is offering until the applause ends, wait a second or two (great time to begin connecting via eye contact) then begin speaking. This too I learned from Lee Glickstein, and it works.

5. When wearing a lavaliere microphone, hide the microphone wire (not antenna wire) for a neater appearance. Men, hide it behind two or three buttons of your shirt. Ladies, feed the mic up through your garment then clip onto a part of your outfit that won't move or rustle. Clip the lav on 9-10" below your chin. Men, clip the mic to your tie then tuck the wire behind your buttons so the wire does not hang out. Do not hide the antenna; it will affect the performance of your microphone's reception. If the volume is too low, move the lav clip 1-2" closer to your mouth.

6. Use stories and examples the viewer of the video can relate to. These types of stories I call "attention getter" stories. They really help improve the value of the video or the video brochure. They help the viewer relate to you. It draws them nearer to you and your message.

7. Stay in tune with the audience. You are their teacher (for lack of a better word) and should stay in touch with their reality as well as yours. Are they squirming? Looking around or talking to each other? If you notice these activities, you have lost the audience. This does not look good on video and reduces your chances of being asked back. I have seen audience shots where three or four of the people in the shot look captivated but one or two ruin the shot because they tuned out.

8. Wear something that does not blend in or clash with the meeting room backdrop or background (walls etc.). Always wear your best outfit for videotaping but do not wear the same outfit twice for two taping sessions. If the meeting room has exit signs or doors in the background, for $50-$90, you can order some pipe and drape from the AV department and make the background look very neat and professional. Colors should range from black to royal blue to maroon. All look better than a wall or exit sign.

9. Fill empty seats up front, so as to help keep your energy up and not show empty seats in the "B" roll or audience camera. The introducer will do the housekeeping if you put this request in writing with your other requests (such as A/V, set-up requirements, announcements about taping, turn off cell phones, etc).

10. Last but not least, test the mic and cameras before the program begins. Listen to the sound in the room and watch and listen to a test recording. This will help avoid 99% of problems that can occur while videotaping.

These tips will help you avoid some of the more common mistakes I see when reviewing speakers' footage. More tips and techniques can be seen by logging onto I wish you all the best in your video taping adventure.

Ed Primeau is the founder of Primeau Productions, Inc., a full-service multimedia production company that works with professional speakers. He is a past president of the Professional Speakers Association of Michigan and received the 1998/99 President's Award for Distinguished Service from the National Speakers Association.

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