Broadcast studios can be a daunting place to present your virtual event. Not everyone is at ease when they first get in front of the camera, and it can feel strange to talk for an extended period without that instant feedback and energy you get when you’re addressing people face-to-face.
If you find the idea of presenting a webinar or virtual event nerve-wracking, you’re not alone. But with the right advice, and a little effort, you too can learn to be a rockstar presenter.
Here, our Redback presenters share some of their favourite tips for slam-dunking your next studio broadcast.
1. Be early
Whenever you’re presenting a studio event, plan to arrive 45 minutes to an hour before the event starts.
“This will give you plenty of time for a technical run-through and to revise your notes before you go live. And if your chosen mode of transport runs a little late, you’ll still have time to make it.” – Michael Bunker, Head of Digital Events
2. Wear what suits you
Know what looks good on you. Choose tailored clothes in solid colors that flatter your skin tone. Keep accessories to a minimum. If you’re stuck, try light blue.
“Avoid stripes, busy patterns and neon colours as they can flare and blur and generally annoy the very people you want to be looking at you. Also avoid anything that rustles or is uncomfortable — the camera picks up everything. And while I love green, refrain from wearing it if using a green screen – It’s happened!” – Sara Drury, General Manager
Gentlemen, if you wear a jacket and you’ll be sitting at a desk, make sure you sit on the tails so it doesn’t hunch around your neck.
3. Powder your nose
Daytime makeup usually works well for ladies, though you may want to add a little extra powder and definition.
For men, as well as women, it’s a good idea to invest in a powder to match your skin tone. It can get hot in the studio and this helps take any shine off your skin.
4. Sit up straight
Don’t slouch or hunch over in front of the camera. A straight back looks good, even if it feels a little unnatural.
“If you need to, put a thin cushion on the back half of your chair seat to tip your pelvis forward, which will generally make your back straighten without you having to think about it.” – Gianno Punla, Presenter Experience Manager
5. Make eye contact
Treat the camera like it’s another person in the room. This means spending a considerable amount of time — but not the whole time — looking directly at the camera lens when you’re addressing the audience. Keep it natural, and look away or at your co-presenters regularly.
You wouldn’t spend 45 minutes talking and staring, unblinking, at a person, so don’t stare at the camera either.
“Vary your expression and delivery, just as you would if the camera was a person. If you’re sharing something surprising, try a confiding tone. If you’re sharing something shocking, use a more assertive tone. If this feels strange, try visualising someone you know on the other side of the lens and talk through the camera to them. Or just practice at home until it feels natural.” Michael Bunker, Head of Digital Events
6. Look at your co-presenters
If there’s a facilitator or moderator, or other presenters, involved in your virtual event, try to spend a roughly equal amount of time looking at them and the camera.
With remote work still a reality for many people, you may also find yourself on a panel with remote presenters.
“To interact with remote presenters, look at the screen to view their facial expressions and body language. You’ll make a better emotional connection when you know who you’re talking to. Don’t forget to look back at the camera when you’re responding to them!” Chona Gomez, Head of Customer Success
7. Have a strategy to relax
If it’s your first time in the studio, or you know you get nervous in front of a camera or speaking publicly, have a strategy to help you relax.
Try some deep-breathing just before the event. Crack a joke. Have a cup of peppermint tea. Whatever works for you. Leave yourself some time to revise what you need to do. If you need to be well-prepared to feel relaxed, then make sure you are well-prepared.
“Once you’re on, don’t sweat the small things. Your delivery will never be absolutely perfect. Keep going.” Sara Drury, General Manager
8. Be your most engaging self
Be yourself, but be the most engaging version of yourself. Know what kind of presenter you are and go with that.
“If you talk with your hands, don’t attempt to stop doing it just because you’re presenting. Natural gesticulars usually make engaging presenters. Incorporate some — but not wild amounts of — movement, and limit gestures to the area between your waist and your shoulders as this is what the camera can see.” Gianno Punla, Presenter Experience Manager
9. Smile. You’re on… camera
The camera loves a smile. In fact, some presenters talk the entire time through a smile, which actually puts a hint of a smile in your voice and a bit of a twinkle in your eye.
“Be upbeat. Be energetic and talk to the camera like there’s a really interesting person on the other side. Guess what? There is.” Jerusha Shah, Marketing Coordinator
10. Tell a story
Look for ways to build engagement into your presentation. You shouldn’t be ticking boxes as you move through slides.
“Start your presentation with a story, an anecdote, some compelling facts or a provocative question. Take your audience on a journey and make your presentation fun and entertaining, as well as informative.” Jeff Porter – Dening, Customer Success Manager
11. Use conversational language
Speak in a conversational tone. Talk with your audience, don’t drone on at them.
Save the boardroom-speak and jargon for work meetings. Use clear and simple language, and if you really need to use a term that’s not clear, or highly technical, explain the meaning.
“Run through your speech in advance to help you anticipate and avoid any terrible tongue-twisters. If there’s a word you always stumble on, change it to something else. And don’t forget to breathe while you’re on air!” – Henry Smith, Customer Success Manager
12. Avoid radio silence
Radio silence, or ‘dead air’, is a no-no. Viewers are much more forgiving if their video freezes than if the sound drops out.
“Occasionally, things do go wrong, however, and presenters may need to ‘fill’. You can try asking your co-presenters an innocuous question, quickly recapping the ground you’ve covered so far, or even cross-promoting an upcoming event.” – Chona Gomez, Head of Customer Success
13. Behave as though you’re on air
As soon as you’re on set in front of the camera, behave as though the camera is on.
We’ve all seen blooper reels of presenters playing with their pens or saying things they shouldn’t.
Always behave as though you’re live, behave professionally and don’t say anything you wouldn’t like your audience to hear.
“And just because your producer has cued you out, doesn’t mean you should suddenly open up when the event is over. Many a presenter has come a cropper when they thought their broadcast was over. Save your unvarnished thoughts until you leave the studio.” – Sara Drury, General Manager
14. Have water on hand
If you get a dry throat when you’re nervous, or you’re worried about having a coughing fit, have a bottle of water on set so you can wet your whistle if you need to.
15. Show the slides you need, but no more
Have a title slide for your presentation, plus a holding slide with a photo of you on it and your speech title in case your webinar provider needs to show it in the rare event of a technical issue.
As you move through your presentation, talk to your slides but don’t repeat exactly what’s on them: most of your audience will read it for themselves.
“While single-speaker presentations are great with slides, avoid them for video panels when the focus should be on you and your co-presenters.” Jerusha Shah, Marketing Coordinator
16. Don’t read from a script
In most cases, you should avoid reading directly from a script. Scripted content will always look scripted — and you’ll miss out on the dynamism, energy and spontaneity that great studio presenters can achieve.
“Have notes on your slides or with you, but use them as a prompt only.” – Jeff Porter-Dening, Customer Success Manager
17. Use a teleprompter or autocue if you need one
If you find it hard to speak without looking down at notes, or if your presentation is of a serious nature and must be delivered as written, try a teleprompter or autocue.
“There are apps that can turn your iPad into a teleprompter or you can ask your webinar provider about an autocue, though it usually costs a little more.” – Henry Smith, Customer Success Manager
18. Ask good questions
If you’re running a live poll, invest a bit of time to think about the question you want your audience to answer.
Be provocative, and think about what the answer is likely to be.
“Be energetic when you deliver the results. If you’re bored or uninterested, your audience will be asleep.” – Michael Bunker, Head of Digital Events
19. Mistakes happen
If you find yourself making a mistake or you suddenly forget the question you’re answering, don’t worry. It happens.
Don’t stop. Correct yourself briefly, or pause, and start again with a complete thought.
Ask another question, launch a poll or move to your next slide with a neutral phrase, such as “I wanted to talk a little bit about…”
We all do things in general conversation that we’re unaware of, and the camera tends to amplify everything.
“If you’re new to presenting, video yourself rehearsing your presentation and watch it back. It’s the best way to improve your on-camera presentation skills quickly.” – Sara Drury, General Manager
21. Finish on time
It may feel like it’s crucial you finish the tangent you went off on, or you share that final anecdote, but stick to your agreed presentation time frame as closely as you can.
Otherwise you may find yourself struggling to get through your content, cut off by an unsympathetic moderator or with unanswered audience questions.
“Your audience will also appreciate it if you deliver what you promise and let them get to their next work commitment on time.” Gianno Punla, Presenter Experience Manager
Redback offers presenter coaching as part of its managed webinar service. If we can help take the pain out of your webinars, reach out to one of our sales consultants.