Speaking on Camera: Communication Tips for Podcasts, Videos and Explainers

Gone are the days when only actors, presenters or news readers spoke on camera. 

Today we all have access to the media spotlight. 

Whether it’s recording videos on your phone for LinkedIn, speaking on a podcast, or creating explainer videos, promo’s and marketing content. 20% of people actively pursue these things to build their careers and businesses, and 80% fear the day they’re asked to speak on camera.

As a public speaking coach, I’ve noticed people having more anxiety speaking on camera, than speaking to an actual real life audience!

But getting comfortable expressing yourself while being recorded doesn’t require years of media training or the confidence of an actor. It can be done with some simple reframes and practical understanding. 

If you want to feel more calm, credible and confident the next time the lights are on you, follow these simple tips. 

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1. Make friends with the camera and speak directly to your audience.

Many people have an irrational fear of the camera lens. 

They imagine this dark, soulless eye will expose their fears and weaknesses for the whole world to see. They stiffen up, lose their authenticity and end up speaking like a corporate dear in the headlights. But the people actually watching you are just that: people. 

Whether it’s the person behind the camera filming (more concerned with getting a great shot). Or the people watching at home (more concerned with gleaming some useful information)

Anxious speakers get thrown off by cameras because they forget it’s just normal, everyday humans who may or may not be watching. 

What to do instead:

First, ask yourself: who is my audience?

Are you recording a professional video to share with customers, or a personal video to share with colleagues on social media? Either way, figure out who your audience is and then visualise that person in your mind.

If you’re nervous, it can help to visualise someone you feel relaxed and comfortable around in person. Then as you look at the camera, imagine that person at the other end, eager to listen. 

See them reacting positively as you begin speaking, and imagine you’re communicating directly with them.

This is how you “make friends with the camera” – by forgetting about the camera entirely and focusing on the person who’ll ultimately be watching. Doing so will help you to feel relaxed, speak in a more conversational tone, and connect with your audience on a personal level.

2. Schedule in rehearsal time to practise your speech, discussion points or Q&A's.

‘Improv speaking’ is the skill of communicating off the cuff. It’s something I recommend getting good at. 

It allows you to answer questions on the spot, deliver speeches on the fly, and sound uncannily charismatic in any circumstance.

But even if you have the gift of the gab, simply relying on “future you” to handle situations where you’re on camera is a big mistake. Your “first take” is rarely your best, so If you have something coming up the first thing to do is set out a rehearsal schedule. 

This can be quick and simple.

For podcasts, panels or interviews:

Begin by thinking about how you’ll introduce yourself, what key information you’d like to get a across, and how you can make this interesting for the audience. 

Next, write down a list of the questions you’ll likely be asked. Better yet, email ahead of the recording/event date to ask for the exact questions you’ll be asked.

For each question, think about the best way you can answer. The best way to figure this out is by actually rehearsing your answers, running them through, and keeping the bits you like the most.

This doesn’t mean you plan things out word-by-word. You can still keep the spontaneity. But your answers on the day will be far more confidently delivered and well executed. 

Finally, make sure to plan something for the “any final words” question that you’re typically asked at the end of a podcast or panel discussion. This is your chance to reach out directly to the audience with a call to action.

Perhaps you’ll ask them to view your website, connect with you online, or email you with their questions? Whatever your call to action is, make sure to not waste the opportunity.  

For marketing videos, explainers, how-to etc: 

If you’re asked to present a video for work, or want to create something for your own business, then you’ll want to prepare your content ahead of time. 

The aim is to work out A. what you want to get across to the audience, then B. the simplest way to actually say it. If you’re going to be delivering this directly to camera, you many also want to partially memorize what you want to say.

The easiest approach for this is to segment all of your content into roughly 1-2 minute chunks, which can then be edited together. Remember that people have exceedingly short attention spans, and will expect you to get into things quickly.

So while preparing and practising your content, keep asking yourself: is it simple, is it clear?

By planning your content in advance, practising your delivery, and segmenting it into memorable segments, you’ll find the process of presenting to camera infinitely easier. 

Many people put off these simple preparations out of fear, but even a small amount of rehearsal pays huge dividends in terms of your final delivery. 

Don’t procrastinate, set yourself a rehearsal schedule and stick to it. 

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3. Understand your camera-frame and match your communication style to fit.

Let’s finish with some practical advice. 

If you’re speaking on camera, it helps to know what the camera is actually seeing – this is called your ‘frame’. Here’s a few standard frames you’ll be familiar with from TV and Film:

Wide: Zoomed out shot showing a wide view and the person’s entire body. 

Midshot: Medium shot where we can usually see the person’s upper-body, waist to head. 

Close-up: Tighter shot, typically only seeing the person’s head and shoulders. 

Knowing how the camera is set is important, as your delivery style will change depending on the frame. A general rule of all public speaking is that your gestures should grow with your audience – getting bigger and broader when speaking in an auditorium vs. in a meeting room. 

The same goes as your frame expands when speaking on camera.

If you’re filming a close-up, most of your body-language and posture will be out of view. You’ll want to keep your body relatively still, and focus on conveying your thoughts and emotion through facial expression and voice. 

For a mid-shot, your arms and hands are now more in view – so you’ll need to be aware of how you’re gesturing, and your overall posture. 

If filming a wide, you have even more reason to animate your body, use more gestures, and possibly even use movement to keep viewers engaged. 

All of this is especially important if you’re not the one filming (i.e. there’s a camera already set-up) in which case, always remember to ask the camera operator/producer what frame you’re in – then adjust your delivery accordingly. 

Summary: How to speak on camera like a professional.

Speaking on camera can be daunting for the best of us, but doing so allows you to share your message, grow your audience, and build your business or brand by connecting with people at scale.

Like all public speaking, the more practice you get, the quicker your skills and confidence develops. So the next time you’re asked to communicate on camera, say yes!

Then remember:

  • Connect with your audience by looking through the camera and really visualising the person or audience watching at the other end. 
  • Don’t rely on ‘future you’ to wing it in the moment, but set a rehearsal schedule and make your life easier by pre-practising your delivery.
  • Understand what the camera is viewing, and adjust your delivery to match the frame you’re filming in. 

Any further question about speaking on camera?

Feel free to drop me an email or connect with me on LinkedIn!

Ready to feel the joy of powerful
communication skills?

Join our next 1-Day
Public Speaking Masterclass

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