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It’s 2017: We All Have to Communicate through a Camera

For the business executives of today, being able to communicate through a camera is an essential skill.

Video is powerful. It’s immediate. And it’s never been easier to leverage video across the corporate landscape to reach both internal and external audiences.

Cameras are no longer confined to studios or designated videoconference rooms; they’re on our phones, our laptops, and our tablets. We use them to communicate with our family and friends, and more and more often, with our coworkers or customers. Video has become as ubiquitous in the workplace as Excel spreadsheets and leftover birthday cake. A face-to-face meeting with a client or a potential new hire on the other side of the world may require only a video chat app and a strong Wi-Fi network.

That said, speaking to a camera is not like speaking to a roomful of people you can actually see. Being able to communicate through a camera requires an entirely different skill set—one most people don’t innately possess.

How you show up on camera is important, so what happens if your messenger is about as dynamic on camera as a ham sandwich? I bet you can guess.

More and more companies are forgoing the “professional spokesperson/actor” and are instead opting to put their “real” employees on camera. Customers, employees, and just about anyone watching a company’s videos want to hear from the decision makers, the doers, the C-suite executives—and more and more often, that means people speaking on camera who have had no prior experience or training in doing so.

To me, that’s unequivocally unfair.

I have spent more than 20 years honing my skills in front of the camera and have discovered what works and what doesn’t, often through trial and error. I was awful on camera initially, but I learned my craft and eventually became a well-respected, award-winning journalist and anchor.

Today’s corporate execs don’t have that kind of luxury. The only training most get is a quick reminder to smile right before the red light goes on.

That’s a shame, because your on-camera presence—what you say, how you say it, and how you look—is a direct reflection on you, your company, and your brand:

  • Speaking in front of the camera is not the same as speaking to people in-person. How must you tailor your on-camera presentation differently?
  • What should you wear and what should you NOT wear on camera?
  • How loudly is your body language speaking and do you even know (or like) what it is saying?
  • How do you know if your message is being seen and heard as intended?

Clearly, having a positive on-camera presence is a requisite for today’s business leaders and up-and-coming professionals.

How well prepared are you? Members of your team? Often, you find out that you are not . . . at the worst possible time.

If you found this information valuable, check out my book, On-Camera Coach: Tools and Techniques for Business Professionals in a Video-Driven World, from Wiley Publishing. On-Camera Coach aims to take the mystery out of communicating through the camera and provides specific tips and techniques that can make your message sing—and you, the messenger, feel confident in a job well done.