Top tips for speaking on camera

Posted on Feb 15th, 2011 | Running a business

When I began making video for business way back in the eighties, it was only the top dogs of sizeable companies that made video appearances – either for their workforce or publicity’s sake.

Since the advent of cheaper video equipment and the spread of video across the Web, any one of us might find ourselves called upon to make a video appearance or to organise one for a client or colleague. So here are my tips to ensure your five minutes of fame are memorable for the right reasons:



  • Wear plain, block colours
  • Mid-tones are best – e.g. blue or pink or purple shirts; brown or charcoal jackets.


  • Fine patterns and stripes

Avoid if possible:

  • Black jackets
  • White shirts

If you can, bring a choice of tops and accessories with you. Wear clothes suitable for the role in which the audience defines you. E.g. – A chief constable would wear his/her uniform.


Make sure you look your best. Check your hair and adjust your clothing. Get the crew to give you a dusting of shine control powder – those lights can get hot!

The setting or background

The setting or background is part of the image and communicates on a subliminal level to the audience. Give some thought to the symbolism of what’s behind you.


Presenters are often filmed against green or blue backgrounds and we put the background shots in during the edit. This is known as greenscreen, bluescreen, or chromakey. The main thing to be concerned with here is that you avoid wearing colours that match the backdrop. Usually this means avoiding green.

Preparing the space

The bigger the room, with the easiest access you can give the crew the better. The room should be quiet – so check that it’s possible to turn off the air conditioning. If the filming is to take place in a busy office, and we can see the source of the chatter in the background, extraneous noise is less of a problem. Needless to say, if your premises are to be on camera, ensure that they look as you would like them in advance of the shoot.

Preparing the script

Pieces to camera are usually best kept short. Read the script aloud before signing it off and you will undoubtedly uncover some tricky turns of phrase to be ironed out. If you will be using a teleprompt you will need to get the text to the video producer in digital form in advance of the shoot.

Delivery Style

Your delivery style and the image you put across should be congruent with the words you are delivering. If not your appearance and tone of voice will come to the foreground of the audience’s attention. To engage your audience you have to be enthusiastic about your content. If you are delivering bad news, a more deliberate and paced style is called for – think of doctors and undertakers.

How you sit or stand is ultimately dictated by the video director. Nevertheless, it is essential that you feel physically comfortable. You should never be slumped. Try not to think too much about body language, just allow it to support your meaning. If you feel a bit self-conscious imagine one person who represents your audience, and talk to the camera as if you are speaking to that person.

And finally…

Don’t forget, as Alfred Hitchcock was fond of saying, “It’s only a movie”.

Tom Hickmore is Creative Director of Nice Media.

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