Mastering On-Camera Presence: Tips for Corporate Executives’ First Video Performances

As a corporate executive, you may have mastered public speaking at some point in your career. Delivering effective presentations, board meetings, and town halls requires unique communication skills. But speaking on camera for the first time can feel like a whole new beast.

Invest in Professional Coaching

Just like an actor preparing for a movie role, corporate executives can shape their performance skills with professional coaching. As a leader, there is more pressure on your performance to not only land the messaging but also to deliver it compellingly and convincingly.

70% of people who received professional coaching saw improvements in their performance and communication skills. On-camera coaching specifically tailored for executives can provide insights into body language, tone, and overall presentation. They can help you overcome nerves and address specific challenges unique to executive-level communication.

Go Off the Script for an Authentic Performance

Even with the help of a professional coach, delivering a scripted message on camera can be incredibly difficult. You might feel that you sound robotic, sarcastic, or disingenuous, even if you don’t mean to be. One option for your video performance is avoiding a script entirely.

Working with a professional video production company that specializes in filming executives (or working with a freelance video director who has corporate video experience) can help ensure that you deliver the right messaging, even without a script. A professional director will use a variety of strategies to ensure that you deliver the right messaging with the right tone. They may be asking open-ended questions and provide in-the-moment coaching to help you look and sound your best on camera.

Effective communication is at the heart of any on-camera performance. If you truly understand and believe the message you’re delivering, you’ll get the words right. Giving an authentic performance is far more impactful than a 100% precise one.

And luckily, if your video isn’t being broadcast live, you don’t have to get it all right the first time. Or even all in one take.

Familiarize Yourself with the Equipment

When you arrive on set, the scene can be intimidating. There may be bright lights, multiple cameras, microphones in your face or on your clothing, and extra crew members you might not have met yet. Familiarizing yourself with basic film equipment and the various on-set roles can help make the process feel less overwhelming. One of the most overwhelming aspects of an interview is fortunately one that you can practice ahead of time: appearing on camera. If your message is going to be delivered direct-to-camera, you can practice making eye contact with a lens by rehearsing in front of your iPhone. Getting used to the experience of being in front of a camera—even your phone’s camera—can make the shoot feel much less intimidating.

Manage Nervous Energy with De-Stressing Techniques

Often, nervous speakers will display ticks without realizing it. You might sway back and forth, tap your foot, play with your hands or hair, fumble with rings, or hum. These are natural, but they’re a dead giveaway of nervousness.

We all decompress from stress in different ways. Some people respond well to controlled breathing exercises. Others meditate, journal, or exercise to release tension before a performance. Keep in mind that once you begin filming, unless you are live, you can take breaks as needed. If you find yourself struggling mid-shoot, consider taking a quick walk around the room to reset yourself.

Once you’ve gotten some of that energy out, allow the adrenaline to fuel you toward a dynamic and engaging on-camera performance. Your body can’t tell the difference between anxiety and excitement, but your mind can.

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“It’s one thing to understand the role of video in business communication, it’s another to know how to use video to solve actual business problems. Vern Oakley gets that.”


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