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How to Thrive on Camera

If they're honest, most people will tell you that they find doing on-camera interviews at least a bit daunting. Over the past 20 years, I've seen many intelligent, articulate people deliver less-than-stellar performances on camera simply because their nerves got the better of them. Well, video is not only here to stay, it's quickly becoming the coin of the realm, information-wise. If you don't believe me, just take a look at the impressive growth in online video at the end of last year.

To help the next generation of corporate spokespeople get up the curve more quickly than their predecessors, I've jotted down some thoughts on ways to make the camera love you.  Enjoy…

1. Stop, Look and Listen — In every live 1:1 interview you do, stop any nervous gestures, look at the interviewer (either in the eye or on the bridge of the nose, not at the camera) and listen attentively to the questions you're being asked.

Be the Bridge — Be sure to weave your key messages into the
conversation throughout the interview. Acknowledge all questions, but
find a way to bridge back to your company's key messages. ("That's an
important issue, John, but what really keeps our customers up at night
is…")  Also, if you're asked to give a closing thought or final
be sure to reiterate your most important message so that it leaves a lasting impression.

ABC (Always Be Colorful) — When you tell your story, try to be concise
yet colorful. Illustrate your points with interesting examples and
memorable anecdotes instead of just facts and figures. 
If you have
a good sound bite to offer, try to include your company's name in a
dependent clause.

4. Dress For Success —
Since you want the audience to remember your messages, not just your wardrobe, clothing items with busy patterns of any ilk or loud colors should be left at home in your closet. It's best to wear tailored clothes in solid colors with an emphasis on blue, brown or black.

5. Practice Makes Perfect – Especially if you're new at this, it is important to practice delivering your messages in front of a mirror or, better yet, take video of a mock interview session prior to the live interview. This practice video will help you see where you need to adjust the tempo, and notice what your nervous ticks and verbal fillers are. Bottom line: preparing will enable you to come across as confident, articulate and well-informed. 

6. Do Not Sit up Straight, but Do Sit Still — During a seated on-camera interview, be sure to lean forward slightly.  Doing so will open up your diaphragm, increase your oxygen intake and
make you appear more engaged in the interview. If you a wearing a suit
coat, sit on the back flap so that the shoulders stay smooth and level.
If you talk excessively with your hands, you might want to tuck them underneath you at your sides. Also, for obvious reasons, stay away from swivel chairs if possible.

7. Silence is Golden — Please silence your cell phone and remove any keys or loose change from your pockets well before the interview.
Also, if you're concerned about coughing, use throat spray or have some water at the ready.

8. Expect the Unexpected – It's quite likely that things will change around you.  Don't get flustered by the make-up artist who wants to get rid of your shiny forehead, the hungover interviewer who seems ill-prepared, or the last-minute
modifications to the format or setting; those things happen all the
time. The important thing is to stay collected enough to remember your messages and deliver them with conviction.

9. Bring Your Energy — The camera captures not just a person's likeness, but also his/her energy. A high-energy interview from a smiling person will help the messages be positively received by the viewing audience. So, get a good night's sleep prior to your interview and either go outside to get some fresh air or do a few jumping jacks right before going on camera. 

10. Have Fun! — The most successful and memorable interviews are the ones where the interviewee not only knows the subject matter cold, but also makes the interview entertaining. Light banter and appropriate humor are marvelous tools for engaging your audience (and  your interviewer). Remember, it's good to be smart, but it's better to be smart and funny. 😉