Tactics and Tools

You’re Probably Doing It Wrong: Tips for Speaking to a Camera

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Author Tim Barnett Published on 03/31/2020

I consider myself a pretty tech-savvy person. I’m able to pick up most gadgets and figure out how to use them without cracking open up the manual. However, I recently found out I’ve been using one piece of technology all wrong.

The world has changed. Most of us find ourselves stuck at home in isolation from family, friends, and co-workers. Where I live, we are no longer able to gather in groups of five or more. Consequently, we’ve been forced to rely on technology—like our webcams—for our communication and community. Co-workers are meeting on Zoom. Family and friends are connecting on Skype. Pastors and ministry workers are live streaming on Facebook and YouTube. All of this has us talking to a camera.

I used to think that speaking in front of my webcam was a no-brainer. Turn it on and go. But I recently found out there is a right way and a wrong way to speak on camera. And most of us do it wrong.

Speaking to someone through a camera is different from speaking in person. One of the biggest obstacles is connecting with the person on the other end of the video. But there are some things we can do to help build a bridge between speaker and viewer.

Karl Faase, the CEO of Olive Tree Media, offers seven tips for better speaking on camera. (You can find all seven tips here.)

Tip #1 – Set Your Camera at Eye Level

This easy to do and makes a huge difference. It is very difficult to connect with someone when you’re staring up their nose or down on their forehead. Before you start speaking, set your camera—your phone, laptop, or webcam—so that it’s at eye level.

Tip #2 – Be Aware of Your Environment

We need to be aware of what is being picked up on the camera. Be sure to keep your environment clean. You don’t want your audience to be distracted by what’s around you.

Tip #3 – Keep the Light on Your Face

Your audience wants to see your face. This is where lighting comes into play. Lighting can be difficult, especially since most of us don’t have professional lights. Faase offers a helpful principle: make sure you have more light on you than behind you. This will allow your audience to see the most important thing on camera: you.

Tip #4 – Check Your Audio

If you talk to a videographer, he will tell you that audio is more important than video. People will put up with poor video if the audio is good. But they won’t put up with bad audio. So, make sure you have a good microphone and you’re in a space with limited echo.

Tip #5 – Look at the Camera

Have you ever talked with someone face-to-face who didn’t make eye contact? It’s awkward and uncomfortable. That’s because eye contact is one of the best ways to connect with another person. No eye contact, no connection.

We can mimic eye contact by looking directly into the camera while we are speaking. This will feel odd at first, but it will help build rapport. 

It’s so important that we stay connected through this current situation. Fortunately, we have technology that, when used properly, will help. Each of these five tips will help connect you with others at a time when we all feel disconnected. Happy videoing!