Zestful Blog Post #161
Over the past week, I watched eleven webinars on the business of writing and teaching. I learned many things. Some of the most interesting had to do with the presenters/panelists themselves. The ones who came across like stars did a few simple things right, and the ones who came off looking like cavemen did them wrong.
1) Get your camera level with your face. Meaning don’t have it on your desk or your coffee table so you’re looking down at it. Even people in good shape look double-chinned and sleepy from that angle. On a laptop or tablet, the camera is usually a little dot embedded at the top center of the frame around the screen. The screen is not the camera. The screen is not the camera. The screen is not the camera. An easy way to level the camera is to booster-seat your laptop on books or a briefcase. Remember briefcases? Maybe there’s one in the attic.
2) Look into the camera. When you look at your likeness on the screen—or the likeness of the person you’re talking to, in a hangout type situation—you are looking down and away from your audience, and they will spend the whole time waiting for you to make at least glancing eye contact. When your face and eyes are level with the camera, you are showing your audience that you’re literally ‘on the level.’ You look earnest and natural, even though you’re forcing yourself to stare at a tiny inanimate dot. That’s showbiz.
3) Comb your hair and wear something halfway decent on top. I recently had to get ready in a hurry for a book group Skype, so I put on a nice top, jewelry, and a little lipstick, but didn’t bother changing out of my elastic-waist charwoman’s shorts below. For all they knew, I was a hundred percent glamorous.
4) Sit up straight. As in back-not-touching-your-chair, Downton Abbey style. When you sit back, especially in an upholstered chair, it looks like you have bad posture even if you really don’t. Your audience might not consciously notice, but these subliminal things add up. If you don’t have a yoga-teacher body, sitting up straight makes you look your trimmest. Also, since the time of Herodotus, civilized people have known that sitting up straight just makes you feel more bright and energetic.
5) Mumble away, if you must, when making your points, but for the love of God slow down and be clear when mentioning the name of a person, product, or company. It helps even more if you spell it out or give a clue as to the spelling. Not one single person, not even the best of them, did this in any of the eleven webinars I watched. They all threw around the names of web companies like they were still swallowing their cereal—was that ConvertIt? ConverKit? Kevorkian? Oh, maybe it’s ConvertKit.
6) I can’t help adding a sixth tip, and can’t believe I need to, and it would seem it hardly needs saying, but don’t pick your nose. I watched a multimillionaire business owner give a webinar during which he kept his laptop on the coffee table and for the entire hour looked down at his own image on the screen, never the camera; sat back on the couch so he looked porky; mumbled everything; swigged from a two-liter bottle of some beverage; and picked his nose. He did it starting about a fourth of the way in, and from then on. The thumb side style. Constantly. Alternated with back-of-hand wiping.
The hilarious thing was that he would look away from his laptop when he did it, so that HE didn’t see himself picking his nose on camera. I believe he might have presumed in some reptilian lobe of his brain that therefore WE couldn’t see it either. To top it off, near the end he humble-bragged about paying $750,000 in taxes last year. The next day I saw a screen shot of him and just got this immediate visceral feeling of ewww.
If you do have to attend to your nose, say, “I beg your pardon for a second,” turn or step away from the camera, and use the handkerchief or tissue you made ready before starting. It should be right next to your glass of water and your just-in-case throat lozenges. And if you do have to mention how much you pay in taxes, don't.
Now, thanks to me, you will not look like an imbecile on web video.
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