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Public Speaking Course: 

Tips for Television, Videotape, and Videoconferencing

When a video camera is trained on you while being taped for a TV show there are some tips you should remember that is taught in my public speaking course.

TELEVISION & VIDEOTAPE TIPS

  • Do not wear any clothing with tight patterns or pin stripes. This causes an optical illusion called a moiré pattern which makes you look bad.
  • Avoid clothing with large patterns or geometric shapes. The audience will watch your clothes instead of you.
  • Wear makeup. It has the practical purpose of reducing the glare of TV lights.
  • Apply makeup to all exposed body parts, like backs of hands, arms, and especially the neck with head and neck shots.
  • Apply cover-up below eyes to mask bags and/or wrinkles.
  • Good studios are kept cool to negate the effect of the hot TV lights. You may freeze for a while until the lights are turned on, then you may burn up. Dress for the heat, but bring a jacket or extra cover-up to be used while you are waiting to go on.
  • Bring a handkerchief or tissues to dab your perspiration during breaks.
  • Gestures should be a lot smaller than you would normally use.
  • Make sure your clothing is "broken in" and comfortable when you are sitting and standing.
  • Before to your performance, have instant photos or video taken of you while sitting and standing. Make sure your clothes look good in both positions.
  • Avoid wearing black, white, or red on camera. Even the best of cameras have trouble with these colors.
  • Avoid flashy jewelry. It can reflect light.
  • Avoid jangly jewelry. It reflects light and also makes noise that will be picked up by your microphone (this applies whether you are on TV or not).
  • Wear your eyeglasses if you want, but avoid wearing shiny frames.
  • Tip the bows of your eyeglasses up slightly off your ears. This angles the lenses down to reduce glare from lights.
  • Find out the background color of the set if possible. You don't want your clothing to blend in and make you invisible.
  • Ask the producer for wardrobe color suggestions.
  • Don't second guess the camera. Act as if you are always on screen.
  • Make sure your makeup, wardrobe, and hair are consistent with your message.

MEN

  • Wear knee-length socks.
  • Always keep double breasted jackets buttoned.
  • Single breasted jackets can be opened, but not too wide.

I WILL SAY THIS AGAIN, Men also need to wear makeup. TV lights can penetrate several layers of skin. You can't possibly shave close enough to prevent whiskers from showing without makeup.

Don't forget makeup on receding hairlines or bald heads.

Don't forget the Tie Trick of the Trade.

WOMEN

  • Don't wear bright red lipstick or lip gloss. Stick to softer tones and dab lips with a little powder.
  • Consider dress shields if you perspire easily.
  • Make sure your hair will stay where you want it. You don't want to be fooling with it while on the air.
  • Make sure a lavaliere or lapel microphone and transmitter can be attached to your clothing.

Lillian Brown has written the best resource I know of on the topic of appearing on television. It's called 'Your Public Best: The Complete Guide to Making Successful Public Appearances in the Meeting Room, on the Platform and on TV' (Newmarket Press: New York 1989).

VIDEOCONFERENCING

  • If possible before the videoconference, send remote location participants handouts, copies of agenda, and copies of visuals.
  • Try to get someone else to operate the camera and other equipment. Have them shoot close up if possible. With more than one presenter, if you leave the camera on wide angle, the viewers will have trouble picking out who is talking.
  • Periodically ask for feedback from the remote sites. Your chances for misunderstanding increase when communicating electronically.
  • Remember assume you are always on camera. Use the mute button for your microphone if you must converse off the main program.

Both on stage and on television or video, there are many issues you must consider and control to do the best presentation possible. You will practice all of these and more in my public speaking course.

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