The Mechanics Of A Video Taping Session: How To Look, Dress And Act On Camera

Ten tips to help you avoid the “elephants” and “mosquitos” of poor video taping and create a professional, effective video production.

On many occasions, I am asked for some tips and techniques on preparing for
a video taping session. Here are 10 of the most common tips I provide to
help prevent some of the more common mistakes made during a video taping
session. Some are Elephants. Some are Mosquitoes.

1. Always remove your name badge when speaking. Regardless if
you are videotaping or not, when you wear a name badge while you are
speaking, it can be a distraction. This is an Elephant.

2. Treat the camera like an audience member. If you don’t, and never make
eye contact with it, the viewer will feel left out–like an
audience member whom you never make eye contact with. This too is an

3. No darting eyes at anytime while speaking, especially when videotaping.
By “darting eyes” I mean quickly shifting from one focal point to another
without making actual eye contact with the audience. To really connect with
an audience, you must win them over one at a time. I like the
technique Lee Glickstein teaches in his coaching programs. As soon
as you take the platform, begin the process. Find your first connection, make eye contact
for a couple seconds. Once you begin speaking, keep the process going.
Make eye contact with the next audience member (3 seconds or so) then move
on to the next connection. Within 10-15 minutes, you will have connected
with various audience members and have them engaged with you and listening

4. Perhaps you could try more silence during your presentation. This will
allow your words to sink in a bit with the audience. For example, when you
are introduced, do not talk at all while entering the stage. Rather, take
the stage in silence, take in the energy the audience is offering until the
applause ends, wait a second or two (great time to begin connecting via eye
contact) then begin speaking. This too I learned from Lee Glickstein, and
it works.

5. When wearing a lavaliere microphone, hide the microphone wire (not
antenna wire) for a neater appearance. Men, hide it behind two or three
buttons of your shirt. Ladies, feed the mic up through your garment then
clip onto a part of your outfit that won’t move or rustle. Clip the lav on
9-10″ below your chin. Men, clip the mic to your tie then tuck the wire
behind your buttons so the wire does not hang out. Do not hide the antenna;
it will affect the performance of your microphone’s reception. If the
volume is too low, move the lav clip 1-2″ closer to your mouth.

6. Use stories and examples the viewer of the video can relate to. These
types of stories I call “attention getter” stories. They really help improve
the value of the video or the video brochure. They help the viewer relate
to you. It draws them nearer to you and your message.

7. Stay in tune with the audience. You are their teacher (for lack of a
better word) and should stay in touch with their reality as well as yours.
Are they squirming? Looking around or talking to each other? If you
notice these activities, you have lost the audience. This does
not look good on video and reduces your chances of being asked back. I have
seen audience shots where three or four of the people in the shot look
captivated but one or two ruin the shot because they tuned out.

8. Wear something that does not blend in or clash with the meeting room
backdrop or background (walls etc.). Always wear your best outfit for
videotaping but do not wear the same outfit twice for two taping sessions.
If the meeting room has exit signs or doors in the background, for $50-$90,
you can order some pipe and drape from the AV department and make the
background look very neat and professional. Colors should range from black
to royal blue to maroon. All look better than a wall or exit sign.

9. Fill empty seats up front, so as to help keep your energy up and not show
empty seats in the “B” roll or audience camera. The introducer will do the
housekeeping if you put this request in writing with your other requests
(such as A/V, set-up requirements, announcements about taping, turn off cell
phones, etc).

10. Last but not least, test the mic and cameras before the program begins.
Listen to the sound in the room and watch and listen to a test recording.
This will help avoid 99% of problems that can occur while videotaping.

These tips will help you avoid some of the more common mistakes I see
when reviewing speakers’ footage. More tips and techniques can be seen by logging onto I wish you all the best in your video taping adventure.

Ed Primeau is the founder of Primeau Productions, Inc., a full-service multimedia production company that works with professional speakers. He is
a past president of the Professional Speakers Association of Michigan and
received the 1998/99 President’s Award for Distinguished Service from the
National Speakers Association.