5 Best Practices for Media Training with Senior Executives

Between us (Marianne and Marilyn), we’ve spent decades successfully training executives to be ready for media opportunities. The hardest part of doing this work with an executive is getting their time, focus and buy-in. Once we have those three elements in place, we can begin work on five key areas for development:

  1. Understand the medium: There are different techniques to master for different environments–broadcast TV and radio, online video and podcasts and print media–so be clear about what you’re preparing for. For example, if you’re an executive appearing on TV to discuss quarterly earnings results, knowing the studio background and the framing of the shot will inform your appearance and other non-verbal communications. If you’re in a podcast or radio studio, you’ll want to learn the dos and don’ts with microphones.
  2. Know your audience: While you likely speak to many different audiences as an executive, be clear about the needs and expectations of your specific audience. This will help you focus on both your messaging and delivery. For example, if you’re a CEO delivering the quarterly results your audience will expect you to present your financials with personality, enthusiasm and vision. However, if you’re a CFO your audience expects something different–namely numbers, data and trends, presented in a way that generates trust and confidence. Developing your persona with your audience in mind is key.
  3. Master your narratives: Company narratives, product narratives and your personal narrative are all vital for any media appearance. Being clear about your content, what you’re looking to communicate, your positioning and guidelines will help you stay on track during an interview. This work should be done well in advance of any media appearance and you’ll likely have a team of people from various departments helping to develop your content and create the soundbites that will resonate.
  4. Build range in your vocal techniques: Once you’ve mastered your content you’ll need to work on your delivery. You want to be engaging and interesting to listen to. This requires an understanding of vocal dynamics, and that you to hear yourself the way others hear you. Watching and listening to ourselves is generally an uncomfortable experience, but we’ve found it a useful technique in building self-awareness and correcting bad habits.
  5. Make time to practice: Being prepared to answer whatever question comes up requires hours of practice. If you’re not well rehearsed you’re likely to be guilty of one or more of the following:
    a) talking your way into your answers
    b) ‘motoring’–talking without taking pauses
    c) not knowing when to stop talking
    d) not having strong, concise, soundbites at the ready
    e) not sticking to your key messaging

Some of these mistakes could get you into trouble with an intrepid reporter or host, and others will result in your audience zoning out.

We coach media training one-on-one with senior executives, leveraging their existing talents and strengths to improve their communications skills. We also coach in small groups when appropriate. Typically the engagements are a half-day commitment–we understand that executives’ time is tight. Developing a more confident, self-aware and engaging version of yourself is valuable for all presentation and media opportunities.

 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Velasquez

 

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Between us (Marianne and Marilyn), we’ve spent decades successfully training executives to be ready for media opportunities. The hardest part of doing this work with an executive is getting their time, focus and buy-in. Once we have those three elements in place, we can begin work on five key areas for development:

  1. Understand the medium: There are different techniques to master for different environments–broadcast TV and radio, online video and podcasts and print media–so be clear about what you’re preparing for. For example, if you’re an executive appearing on TV to discuss quarterly earnings results, knowing the studio background and the framing of the shot will inform your appearance and other non-verbal communications. If you’re in a podcast or radio studio, you’ll want to learn the dos and don’ts with microphones.
  2. Know your audience: While you likely speak to many different audiences as an executive, be clear about the needs and expectations of your specific audience. This will help you focus on both your messaging and delivery. For example, if you’re a CEO delivering the quarterly results your audience will expect you to present your financials with personality, enthusiasm and vision. However, if you’re a CFO your audience expects something different–namely numbers, data and trends, presented in a way that generates trust and confidence. Developing your persona with your audience in mind is key.
  3. Master your narratives: Company narratives, product narratives and your personal narrative are all vital for any media appearance. Being clear about your content, what you’re looking to communicate, your positioning and guidelines will help you stay on track during an interview. This work should be done well in advance of any media appearance and you’ll likely have a team of people from various departments helping to develop your content and create the soundbites that will resonate.
  4. Build range in your vocal techniques: Once you’ve mastered your content you’ll need to work on your delivery. You want to be engaging and interesting to listen to. This requires an understanding of vocal dynamics, and that you to hear yourself the way others hear you. Watching and listening to ourselves is generally an uncomfortable experience, but we’ve found it a useful technique in building self-awareness and correcting bad habits.
  5. Make time to practice: Being prepared to answer whatever question comes up requires hours of practice. If you’re not well rehearsed you’re likely to be guilty of one or more of the following:
    a) talking your way into your answers
    b) ‘motoring’–talking without taking pauses
    c) not knowing when to stop talking
    d) not having strong, concise, soundbites at the ready
    e) not sticking to your key messaging

Some of these mistakes could get you into trouble with an intrepid reporter or host, and others will result in your audience zoning out.

We coach media training one-on-one with senior executives, leveraging their existing talents and strengths to improve their communications skills. We also coach in small groups when appropriate. Typically the engagements are a half-day commitment–we understand that executives’ time is tight. Developing a more confident, self-aware and engaging version of yourself is valuable for all presentation and media opportunities.

 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Velasquez

 

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On-Camera Makeup for Women: Why Less Is More

With cameras and TV studios mostly shooting in HD (high definition), the heavy, theatrical makeup often used for TV appearances in the past is no longer appropriate. HD exposes far more detail than standard definition cameras, which means that makeup texture shows up on screen if not applied carefully.

Here’s how to present a more natural look for your HD camera appearance:

  • Avoid a caked-on look by using a finely milled translucent powder, such as Make Up For Ever.
  • It’s easy to look pale with HD cameras. A slightly darker shade of foundation will help you look less washed out. Again, using a foundation made for HD will provide lighter coverage while still masking imperfections.
  • Be sure to apply makeup to the neck area and blend well. You want to avoid a line around the bottom of the face where the makeup ends. A two-tone look for the face and neck is not what you’re going for!

Product and application matter a lot when it comes to HD, and it’s worth investing in an HD makeup kit if you’re going to be on-camera regularly. Many people will feel more confident with a makeup artist to help them prepare. Finally, if you’re not sure whether your appearance will be shot in HD or SD ask the producer. Your video appearance is likely to live on in easily searchable online archives, so make sure you’re showing up as your best on-camera self!

Screen Presence hair and makeup stylist Sarah Hyde provided the content for this post

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With cameras and TV studios mostly shooting in HD (high definition), the heavy, theatrical makeup often used for TV appearances in the past is no longer appropriate. HD exposes far more detail than standard definition cameras, which means that makeup texture shows up on screen if not applied carefully.

Here’s how to present a more natural look for your HD camera appearance:

  • Avoid a caked-on look by using a finely milled translucent powder, such as Make Up For Ever.
  • It’s easy to look pale with HD cameras. A slightly darker shade of foundation will help you look less washed out. Again, using a foundation made for HD will provide lighter coverage while still masking imperfections.
  • Be sure to apply makeup to the neck area and blend well. You want to avoid a line around the bottom of the face where the makeup ends. A two-tone look for the face and neck is not what you’re going for!

Product and application matter a lot when it comes to HD, and it’s worth investing in an HD makeup kit if you’re going to be on-camera regularly. Many people will feel more confident with a makeup artist to help them prepare. Finally, if you’re not sure whether your appearance will be shot in HD or SD ask the producer. Your video appearance is likely to live on in easily searchable online archives, so make sure you’re showing up as your best on-camera self!

Screen Presence hair and makeup stylist Sarah Hyde provided the content for this post

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On-Camera Makeup Tips for the Eyes

The good news about applying eye makeup for your on-camera appearance is that it doesn’t need to be very different from your everyday eye makeup. However, if you generally don’t wear eye makeup, be sure to apply some for the camera. Your eyes are an important part of how people see you through the lens. They help your face come to life.

Whether you prefer a more natural or a made-up look, the goal is to frame and define the eyes. Lining the eyes will bring out definition and make the eyes pop. Here are some guidelines for defining the lash line:

  • If your eyes are close set, add liner to the outer edge to make them appear wider. If your eyes are far set — defined as the space between your eyes being bigger than the length of one eye — add liner all the way to the inner corner.
  • Although liner can be challenging to apply, there are many eyelining pens that can make the job easier. Thinner lines along the lash make for a natural look; a stronger lash line will really frame the eye. In both cases add a dark brown or black mascara to finish the look.
  • If you really can’t deal with liner, cheat by adding a dark eyeshadow along the lash line.

Other eye makeup tips:

  • Avoid make up that glimmers. Neutral colors and matte finishes will work best to draw the viewer in rather than reflecting light and attention away from the eyes.
  • Use a primer or base to prevent makeup from smudging under the heat of the camera lights.
  • Remember the basic color rules: lighter colors will make your eyes look bigger, darker colors will be more intense.
  • Finally, have eye drops to hand to remove any red eye on shoot day.

Screen Presence hair and makeup stylist Sarah Hyde provided the content for this post.

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The good news about applying eye makeup for your on-camera appearance is that it doesn’t need to be very different from your everyday eye makeup. However, if you generally don’t wear eye makeup, be sure to apply some for the camera. Your eyes are an important part of how people see you through the lens. They help your face come to life.

Whether you prefer a more natural or a made-up look, the goal is to frame and define the eyes. Lining the eyes will bring out definition and make the eyes pop. Here are some guidelines for defining the lash line:

  • If your eyes are close set, add liner to the outer edge to make them appear wider. If your eyes are far set — defined as the space between your eyes being bigger than the length of one eye — add liner all the way to the inner corner.
  • Although liner can be challenging to apply, there are many eyelining pens that can make the job easier. Thinner lines along the lash make for a natural look; a stronger lash line will really frame the eye. In both cases add a dark brown or black mascara to finish the look.
  • If you really can’t deal with liner, cheat by adding a dark eyeshadow along the lash line.

Other eye makeup tips:

  • Avoid make up that glimmers. Neutral colors and matte finishes will work best to draw the viewer in rather than reflecting light and attention away from the eyes.
  • Use a primer or base to prevent makeup from smudging under the heat of the camera lights.
  • Remember the basic color rules: lighter colors will make your eyes look bigger, darker colors will be more intense.
  • Finally, have eye drops to hand to remove any red eye on shoot day.

Screen Presence hair and makeup stylist Sarah Hyde provided the content for this post.

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Preparing Your On-Camera Content

Fashion models aside, being on-camera requires speaking, and speaking requires having something cogent to say. And yet, many executives, entrepreneurs and business owners don’t write their own content and often have little time to prepare before the lavelier microphone is being attached to their lapel and the cameras start rolling. This combination of underprepared content and little or no practice in delivering it doesn’t foretell a good on-camera experience. Don’t forget, most online video content will live indefinitely in archives, and for anyone watching – underprepared or not – this is who you are.

If you’re a subject matter expert going into a studio for a 5-minute hit, or you’re presenting about what your company or product does, or you’re tasked with providing sound bites to be included in a larger package, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Create an outline for your storytelling with a beginning, middle and end. Find an overarching statement to start, then create three sections to support main points. Finally create an ender which pulls the story together and perhaps looks out ahead. You want to end on a strong note, leaving a good impression.
  • Craft your outline and remarks to work within the time limits given for the appearance. Also, be concise, and avoid rambling. Too often presenters talk too fast and too much for the audience to connect with what they are trying to say.
  • Include data and quotes to back up your arguments and memorize them so that you deliver them in the natural flow, and with assurance. This information will ground what you have to say and will also provide you with confidence.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Say your presentation out loud many times over so that the content becomes very comfortable and you don’t overrun the expected time limits. While you are driving in the car is a good place to practice. And, if something is awkward to say it’s time for a rewrite; if it’s hard to say, it will be awkward to listen to. Remember, your delivery should be as conversational as possible so create a script that’s easy to deliver, worry less about how it reads.

Most importantly, if you have an appointment with the camera don’t wait to the last minute to think about what you’re going to communicate. Don’t wing it! The best content has been worked and reworked and then practiced for effortless delivery. This is your opportunity to be a storyteller. If you have your content down delivering it will almost be fun.

Screen Presence President & Executive Producer Marianne Wilman created this post

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Fashion models aside, being on-camera requires speaking, and speaking requires having something cogent to say. And yet, many executives, entrepreneurs and business owners don’t write their own content and often have little time to prepare before the lavelier microphone is being attached to their lapel and the cameras start rolling. This combination of underprepared content and little or no practice in delivering it doesn’t foretell a good on-camera experience. Don’t forget, most online video content will live indefinitely in archives, and for anyone watching – underprepared or not – this is who you are.

If you’re a subject matter expert going into a studio for a 5-minute hit, or you’re presenting about what your company or product does, or you’re tasked with providing sound bites to be included in a larger package, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Create an outline for your storytelling with a beginning, middle and end. Find an overarching statement to start, then create three sections to support main points. Finally create an ender which pulls the story together and perhaps looks out ahead. You want to end on a strong note, leaving a good impression.
  • Craft your outline and remarks to work within the time limits given for the appearance. Also, be concise, and avoid rambling. Too often presenters talk too fast and too much for the audience to connect with what they are trying to say.
  • Include data and quotes to back up your arguments and memorize them so that you deliver them in the natural flow, and with assurance. This information will ground what you have to say and will also provide you with confidence.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Say your presentation out loud many times over so that the content becomes very comfortable and you don’t overrun the expected time limits. While you are driving in the car is a good place to practice. And, if something is awkward to say it’s time for a rewrite; if it’s hard to say, it will be awkward to listen to. Remember, your delivery should be as conversational as possible so create a script that’s easy to deliver, worry less about how it reads.

Most importantly, if you have an appointment with the camera don’t wait to the last minute to think about what you’re going to communicate. Don’t wing it! The best content has been worked and reworked and then practiced for effortless delivery. This is your opportunity to be a storyteller. If you have your content down delivering it will almost be fun.

Screen Presence President & Executive Producer Marianne Wilman created this post

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On-Camera Hair Tips for Women

Up or down? Straight or curly? Around the face or away from the face? Women and their hair is a tricky business without the added pressure of the camera. The heat of the camera lights affects our locks, so it’s likely that your hair will become either flatter, more frizzy or flyaway, depending on your hair type.

How you style your hair depends on your face shape and your hair texture but here are some rules of thumb for your screen presence:

  • Flyaway hairs that pick up light are what professional hair people spend most of their time cleaning up by using styling cream to keep them in place. But beware of using too much product, which can make the hair look flat. Frizzy hair is a common problem too. Applying a styling cream or serum will help it from looking dry and unattractive.
  • Thin, stringy hair and in particular loose bangs do not usually look flattering on camera. If you have thin hair, it will look better clean and either short or possibly up.
  • Products, like Toppik, can help conceal thin spots, but you may also consider hair extensions or even wigs. These are a fun option, and you’d be surprised at how many people wear them!
  • For many women, the easiest approach, if you can make the time, is to go for a professional blow out. This will create luster and fullness. Make an appointment for close to your on-camera time so that it holds.

Given all the things there are to think about as you gear up for an on-camera appearance, you don’t want to be distracted and preoccupied by your hair. Figuring out in advance a style that creates a finished look will provide you with confidence and enable you to focus on what matters most — what you’re going to say.

Screen Presence hair and makeup stylist Sarah Hyde provided the content for this post

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Up or down? Straight or curly? Around the face or away from the face? Women and their hair is a tricky business without the added pressure of the camera. The heat of the camera lights affects our locks, so it’s likely that your hair will become either flatter, more frizzy or flyaway, depending on your hair type.

How you style your hair depends on your face shape and your hair texture but here are some rules of thumb for your screen presence:

  • Flyaway hairs that pick up light are what professional hair people spend most of their time cleaning up by using styling cream to keep them in place. But beware of using too much product, which can make the hair look flat. Frizzy hair is a common problem too. Applying a styling cream or serum will help it from looking dry and unattractive.
  • Thin, stringy hair and in particular loose bangs do not usually look flattering on camera. If you have thin hair, it will look better clean and either short or possibly up.
  • Products, like Toppik, can help conceal thin spots, but you may also consider hair extensions or even wigs. These are a fun option, and you’d be surprised at how many people wear them!
  • For many women, the easiest approach, if you can make the time, is to go for a professional blow out. This will create luster and fullness. Make an appointment for close to your on-camera time so that it holds.

Given all the things there are to think about as you gear up for an on-camera appearance, you don’t want to be distracted and preoccupied by your hair. Figuring out in advance a style that creates a finished look will provide you with confidence and enable you to focus on what matters most — what you’re going to say.

Screen Presence hair and makeup stylist Sarah Hyde provided the content for this post

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How to look bright-eyed on-camera

A good night’s sleep before your shoot day will do the trick, right? Well yes, partly. Actually the eye socket is round, sunken and prone to creating shadows under bright camera lights, even after a good 8 hours of sleep. Also, as we get older the skin in this area becomes thinner, making the shadows worse.

Here are some tips for effectively camouflaging the dark circles under your eyes:

  • The delicate under eye area can be prone to dryness, which will be visible on camera. Mix some moisturizer with concealer to keep the eyes looking hydrated and soft, and be sure to apply all the way into the inner corner which will brighten the eye.
  • Avoid ‘raccoon eyes’ which may occur when the concealer you apply under your eyes is too light, and often too yellow. Instead, go with a color that’s just a half shade lighter than your natural skin tone.
  • Mascara can tend to smudge in the area under the eye. To prevent this try a light application of powder directly under the eye.

Ideally your eyes will look bright and engaging on camera, but even after a good night’s sleep this may be a challenge. Focus on finding the right product in the best color shade for your skin tone, and use these application tips to avoid smudges and flakes which will only draw more attention to dark circles under your eyes. And, if this all seems too tricky, there’s always an on-camera makeup professional to help you look your finest!

Screen Presence hair and makeup stylist Sarah Hyde provided the content for this post

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A good night’s sleep before your shoot day will do the trick, right? Well yes, partly. Actually the eye socket is round, sunken and prone to creating shadows under bright camera lights, even after a good 8 hours of sleep. Also, as we get older the skin in this area becomes thinner, making the shadows worse.

Here are some tips for effectively camouflaging the dark circles under your eyes:

  • The delicate under eye area can be prone to dryness, which will be visible on camera. Mix some moisturizer with concealer to keep the eyes looking hydrated and soft, and be sure to apply all the way into the inner corner which will brighten the eye.
  • Avoid ‘raccoon eyes’ which may occur when the concealer you apply under your eyes is too light, and often too yellow. Instead, go with a color that’s just a half shade lighter than your natural skin tone.
  • Mascara can tend to smudge in the area under the eye. To prevent this try a light application of powder directly under the eye.

Ideally your eyes will look bright and engaging on camera, but even after a good night’s sleep this may be a challenge. Focus on finding the right product in the best color shade for your skin tone, and use these application tips to avoid smudges and flakes which will only draw more attention to dark circles under your eyes. And, if this all seems too tricky, there’s always an on-camera makeup professional to help you look your finest!

Screen Presence hair and makeup stylist Sarah Hyde provided the content for this post

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What color to wear for your on-camera appearance?

First, you need to know what not to wear: Generally avoid red, white, black — basically anything very dark or very bright. This is because colors are captured differently through the camera lens than through your eyes. Reds often turn pink on camera, white can be too ‘hot’ and blacks can make you disappear if you’re sitting in front of a dark-colored background. Instead, go for mid-tones that will pop against the backdrop.

Here are tips for looking good on-camera:

  • Know what the shot is going to be. You’re going to be seen within a rectangular screen, whether that’s on TV or within an online video player, and you’ll typically be sitting against a colored background. Knowing the framing of the shot — whether it will be a close up, medium or wide shot — and what the background color will be will help you determine what to wear, so be sure to ask!
  • Wear your darkest color on the bottom, with a lighter color on top, and make sure your top is a darker color than your face. Viewers’ eyes will be drawn to the lightest area, and generally you’d want this to be your face. For the same reason, avoid unusual accents like white buttons on a black shirt, anything shiny or metallic, or showing a lot of leg since that is what your audience will be looking at, instead of at your face and listening to what you have to say!
  • Make sure the color you pick flatters your skin tone. People with darker skin tones will tend to look good in more vibrant tones, those with lighter skin tones should stick to mid-range colors, including pastels and earth tones.

When it comes to being on camera the goal is not to create a look with a lot of strong contrasts. Forget the heavy patterns or stripes, which can create a zebra or moiré effect and flutter on camera. Focus instead on standing out from the background. If you’re not sure what colors are flattering on you, find a stylist to help!

Screen Presence Stylist Chris Aysta provided the content for this post.

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First, you need to know what not to wear: Generally avoid red, white, black — basically anything very dark or very bright. This is because colors are captured differently through the camera lens than through your eyes. Reds often turn pink on camera, white can be too ‘hot’ and blacks can make you disappear if you’re sitting in front of a dark-colored background. Instead, go for mid-tones that will pop against the backdrop.

Here are tips for looking good on-camera:

  • Know what the shot is going to be. You’re going to be seen within a rectangular screen, whether that’s on TV or within an online video player, and you’ll typically be sitting against a colored background. Knowing the framing of the shot — whether it will be a close up, medium or wide shot — and what the background color will be will help you determine what to wear, so be sure to ask!
  • Wear your darkest color on the bottom, with a lighter color on top, and make sure your top is a darker color than your face. Viewers’ eyes will be drawn to the lightest area, and generally you’d want this to be your face. For the same reason, avoid unusual accents like white buttons on a black shirt, anything shiny or metallic, or showing a lot of leg since that is what your audience will be looking at, instead of at your face and listening to what you have to say!
  • Make sure the color you pick flatters your skin tone. People with darker skin tones will tend to look good in more vibrant tones, those with lighter skin tones should stick to mid-range colors, including pastels and earth tones.

When it comes to being on camera the goal is not to create a look with a lot of strong contrasts. Forget the heavy patterns or stripes, which can create a zebra or moiré effect and flutter on camera. Focus instead on standing out from the background. If you’re not sure what colors are flattering on you, find a stylist to help!

Screen Presence Stylist Chris Aysta provided the content for this post.

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On-Camera Hair Tips for Men

If you’re bald or have thinning hair you may find pre-shoot preparations a little awkward, even with an on-camera hair professional to help you. Or you may fall into a different group, the man who is very particular about the way his hair is styled and prefers not to have anyone else touch his locks.

Whether you’re sensitive about your hair or not, here are some tips as you prepare for your next on-camera appearance:

  • Having a haircut may be the one thing a man does when he has an appointment with the video camera, but don’t cut your hair the day before a shoot.  It will look more natural if it’s grown out by at least a week.
  • Men who don’t usually wear product will typically want to add a little styling cream to avoid hair standing up on end under the heat of the camera lights; styling product also helps with camera-associated frizz.
  • If you’re bald, you need to be aware that the camera lights will bounce off your head, making it extremely shiny and distracting to viewers.  However, the good news is that there are products out there created specifically for you.
  • For those with thinning hair, shiny spots on the scalp will tend to show through the hair. Again, there are clever ways to camouflage this problem and products designed just for you.

While many of the great film stars have the luxury of great hair — think Cary Grant, James Dean and George Clooney — there’s no reason why you can’t at least be at ease with yours.  Above all else, get comfortable with the idea of using the hair product to fit your needs, so that you’re ready to sit under the heat of the camera lights with confidence, undistracted from your mission to communicate effectively on camera.

Screen Presence hair and makeup stylist Sarah Hyde provided the content for this post.

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If you’re bald or have thinning hair you may find pre-shoot preparations a little awkward, even with an on-camera hair professional to help you. Or you may fall into a different group, the man who is very particular about the way his hair is styled and prefers not to have anyone else touch his locks.

Whether you’re sensitive about your hair or not, here are some tips as you prepare for your next on-camera appearance:

  • Having a haircut may be the one thing a man does when he has an appointment with the video camera, but don’t cut your hair the day before a shoot.  It will look more natural if it’s grown out by at least a week.
  • Men who don’t usually wear product will typically want to add a little styling cream to avoid hair standing up on end under the heat of the camera lights; styling product also helps with camera-associated frizz.
  • If you’re bald, you need to be aware that the camera lights will bounce off your head, making it extremely shiny and distracting to viewers.  However, the good news is that there are products out there created specifically for you.
  • For those with thinning hair, shiny spots on the scalp will tend to show through the hair. Again, there are clever ways to camouflage this problem and products designed just for you.

While many of the great film stars have the luxury of great hair — think Cary Grant, James Dean and George Clooney — there’s no reason why you can’t at least be at ease with yours.  Above all else, get comfortable with the idea of using the hair product to fit your needs, so that you’re ready to sit under the heat of the camera lights with confidence, undistracted from your mission to communicate effectively on camera.

Screen Presence hair and makeup stylist Sarah Hyde provided the content for this post.

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On-camera Wardrobe Snafus & How To Overcome Them

You might think that what you wear on-camera should pretty much reflect what you wear off camera. After all, you’re showing up for the shoot as you, right? Well, yes, and no. For people who identify with a particular look, like cowboys, hippies and rock stars, their on-camera wardrobe choice should authentically reflect their persona. For example, it would be strange if JayZ didn’t stay true to his urban style, whether he was presenting at the Grammy awards or to Wall Street bankers.

For the rest of us, here are some general rules for looking good on-camera:

  • Clothes that are too loose or too tight can be distracting, as can lively patterns and loud tones. Stay ‘classic’, with simple patterning and mid-range tones.
  • Find a good tailor. Every garment bought off the rack can be fitted to avoid unflattering extra fabric or cling. Even an inexpensive H&M shirt or jacket can be tailored to complement your body. Check out your local dry cleaner for alteration services if you don’t already have a tailor.
  • Ask yourself whether you’re attached to a look that isn’t working for you! Case in point, Simon Cowell identifies with his plain white or black V-neck T shirts, but the look really doesn’t do him any favors. A collared shirt would look so much better on Simon.

You can highlight your best assets, such as Michelle Obama arms or an Audrey Hepburn neck, when you’re dressing for your on-camera appearance. But, more than anything else, presenters and on-camera guests should avoid drawing attention away from their subject matter by taking too many risks with their clothes. Ultimately what you’re saying should be more important than how you look.

Screen Presence Stylist Chris Aysta provided the content for this post.

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You might think that what you wear on-camera should pretty much reflect what you wear off camera. After all, you’re showing up for the shoot as you, right? Well, yes, and no. For people who identify with a particular look, like cowboys, hippies and rock stars, their on-camera wardrobe choice should authentically reflect their persona. For example, it would be strange if JayZ didn’t stay true to his urban style, whether he was presenting at the Grammy awards or to Wall Street bankers.

For the rest of us, here are some general rules for looking good on-camera:

  • Clothes that are too loose or too tight can be distracting, as can lively patterns and loud tones. Stay ‘classic’, with simple patterning and mid-range tones.
  • Find a good tailor. Every garment bought off the rack can be fitted to avoid unflattering extra fabric or cling. Even an inexpensive H&M shirt or jacket can be tailored to complement your body. Check out your local dry cleaner for alteration services if you don’t already have a tailor.
  • Ask yourself whether you’re attached to a look that isn’t working for you! Case in point, Simon Cowell identifies with his plain white or black V-neck T shirts, but the look really doesn’t do him any favors. A collared shirt would look so much better on Simon.

You can highlight your best assets, such as Michelle Obama arms or an Audrey Hepburn neck, when you’re dressing for your on-camera appearance. But, more than anything else, presenters and on-camera guests should avoid drawing attention away from their subject matter by taking too many risks with their clothes. Ultimately what you’re saying should be more important than how you look.

Screen Presence Stylist Chris Aysta provided the content for this post.

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The World Is Watching Video. Are You Camera-Ready?

Video has exploded online. There were 44 billion views of video content in June 2013 (comScore), and 85% of the US Internet audience consumed online video during the month. The video giant YouTube says that it currently processes 100 hours of video every minute, and attracts more than 1 billion unique users every month who collectively watch 6 billion hours of video during those 30 days. That’s 50% more than last year.

Websites have been feeling the pressure to include video to keep pace with user expectations, and 70% of them now feature video content. According to estimates, 1 in 3 shoppers watch product videos as part of the buying process all or most of the time, and conversion rates increase anywhere from the tens to hundreds of percentage points when they do. Video viewed on mobile devices jumped 300% in 2012, mostly driven by the explosion in tablets and smartphones, and it will explode further as more people around the world join the mobile revolution.

The rapid growth and demand for video, as well as the relative ease of shooting and uploading content online, will have one sure result: More people will end up in front of the camera. Consequently, those people will need techniques and skills that make them credible and presentable to viewers.

If you are an executive, entrepreneur or a spokesperson for your company, you can expect to have opportunities that put you in front of a camera. But are you ready? Do you actually have what it takes to make a good impression?

In most situations, you show up and the shoot begins — there isn’t much of a safety net in terms of direction, so you need to create your own. Knowing what you want to say is part of it, but arguably even more important is how you appear and project yourself with the camera and lights turned on. The audience will be forming opinions of you within seconds.

Whether it’s presenting at an industry conference, communicating live to key stakeholders or pitching a new product, it is all too easy to blow it when you’re inexperienced on-camera. Videos have a habit of living on indefinitely on the Internet. The fluffed line, monotone voice, bad hair, poorly chosen outfit, shiny nose, sweaty upper lip, or just under-prepared content may come to haunt you. As a result you may not be asked back and have to live with your unflattering performance for eternity. Producers who book guests prefer those who know what they’re doing and understand what’s expected of them. So, if you want to get booked, or you want to present yourself as someone who is ready to speak to a wider audience, know what’s required and learn how to be your best on-camera self.

So, where to begin?

The good news is that there are very talented people working as stylists, voice coaches and photographers in associated mediums, such as commercials, radio and film, who are ready to help you. In my experience, these professionals can genuinely help people look and sound their very best, and it doesn’t take that much time or investment to start building confidence. As with other smart moves you’ll make in your life, put yourself in the hands of professionals.

I’d suggest starting with your voice. Many of us don’t like the way we look or sound on camera but it’s hard when we first review ourselves to get beyond our face, hair or wardrobe choices. Watch a video of yourself and listen — how do you sound? Convincing? Authoritative?

Marilyn Pittman is a highly regarded voice coach who trains NPR reporters. She coached me several years ago and cracked me out of what she called my “BBC sing-song rhythm and tone.” She works with lots of executives and thinks that women in particular could be doing more with their voices: “Women business leaders need to sound authoritative, warm, and dynamic. Developing a good speaking voice involves breathing correctly, projecting your voice, varying the rhythm, tempo, pitch, and volume, and knowing how to convey the right tone and meaning of your message.”

Next up, find a wardrobe stylist to help you determine what will make you feel your most confident and empowered self on-camera. It’s not always easy to determine this for ourselves. The colors and shapes we might like in our “regular” lives don’t always translate well on camera. “You’re going to be seen within a square screen and you’ll be sitting against a colored background. Knowing the framing of the shot and what the background color is going to be will help you determine what to wear, so ask,” says stylist Chris Aysta. One editor-reporter I hired at CBS shops with a stylist each season to pick up a few pieces to add to her wardrobe that make her feel camera-ready. She’s often on the news at short notice, and doesn’t need the added stress of wardrobe selection.

Hair and makeup is an area where many people fall down. Men typically do very little, or nothing. Sarah Hyde, a talented professional I’ve worked with recently, has this to say: ”All men need a little color because the camera can wash them out, and a little anti-shine because lights really reflect on the skin.” She adds, “Given that the women tend to look polished, why shouldn’t men be too?”

For women, there may be a presumption that there will be a hair and makeup professional at their shoot. Be sure to ask. Typically, online video budgets are low and there isn’t anyone to help you. When left to themselves the tendency for women who are inexperienced on camera is to do too much. In truth HD cameras, which most studios now use, can be cruel because they show so much detail. They love gadgets and hate skin! The bottom line is that if you’re a regular on-camera you need an HD makeup kit, and to know what should go in it you need to consult with an expert.

Now you’re ready to step out in front of the camera. Your voice has been trained, your outfit complements the studio background and your hair and makeup is just enough and not too much and it still feels like you. But there is another slew of decisions to make: where to look, to smile or not to smile, to nod or not, how expansive to be with your gestures? Non-verbal cues are powerful. Author Carol Kinsey Goman who I’ve worked with many times offers this statistic: 93% of the message people receive from us has nothing to do with what we actually say. Learning about the power of non-verbal communication through on-camera training and practice is critical.

Finally there’s the content. Don’t wing it! Anticipating questions and knowing what you’re going to say is crucial to your performance and you should prepare your content in advance. If you’re not prepared, you risk slowing down the entire shoot, or under-delivering if it’s a live broadcast. Ideally you’ll have a video producer or communications specialist to work with. Good producers are typically talented writers and understand new concepts readily, and they want to put on a good show. They should be able to give you an idea of what’s expected, which can help you communicate your ideas more conversationally and succinctly. If you’re not lucky enough to have a producer, the simplest tip is to read what you’ve prepared out loud to yourself. You’ll soon know if your content is long-winded and needs to get to the point sooner since you’ll immediately be tired of listening to yourself! But again, having a producer to work with is preferable.

And that’s it! There’s a lot to master, but as video production people we want to see you do your best. Here’s what we want to see: You’ve worked your content and know how to present yourself on camera; You know what to wear, how you sound and how you look; And you’re comfortable with your non-verbal and well as verbal communication. Now you’re (finally) ready to make not only a good impression, but a lasting impact.

                                                                Marianne Wilman is President & Executive Producer of Screen Presence.

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Video has exploded online. There were 44 billion views of video content in June 2013 (comScore), and 85% of the US Internet audience consumed online video during the month. The video giant YouTube says that it currently processes 100 hours of video every minute, and attracts more than 1 billion unique users every month who collectively watch 6 billion hours of video during those 30 days. That’s 50% more than last year.

Websites have been feeling the pressure to include video to keep pace with user expectations, and 70% of them now feature video content. According to estimates, 1 in 3 shoppers watch product videos as part of the buying process all or most of the time, and conversion rates increase anywhere from the tens to hundreds of percentage points when they do. Video viewed on mobile devices jumped 300% in 2012, mostly driven by the explosion in tablets and smartphones, and it will explode further as more people around the world join the mobile revolution.

The rapid growth and demand for video, as well as the relative ease of shooting and uploading content online, will have one sure result: More people will end up in front of the camera. Consequently, those people will need techniques and skills that make them credible and presentable to viewers.

If you are an executive, entrepreneur or a spokesperson for your company, you can expect to have opportunities that put you in front of a camera. But are you ready? Do you actually have what it takes to make a good impression?

In most situations, you show up and the shoot begins — there isn’t much of a safety net in terms of direction, so you need to create your own. Knowing what you want to say is part of it, but arguably even more important is how you appear and project yourself with the camera and lights turned on. The audience will be forming opinions of you within seconds.

Whether it’s presenting at an industry conference, communicating live to key stakeholders or pitching a new product, it is all too easy to blow it when you’re inexperienced on-camera. Videos have a habit of living on indefinitely on the Internet. The fluffed line, monotone voice, bad hair, poorly chosen outfit, shiny nose, sweaty upper lip, or just under-prepared content may come to haunt you. As a result you may not be asked back and have to live with your unflattering performance for eternity. Producers who book guests prefer those who know what they’re doing and understand what’s expected of them. So, if you want to get booked, or you want to present yourself as someone who is ready to speak to a wider audience, know what’s required and learn how to be your best on-camera self.

So, where to begin?

The good news is that there are very talented people working as stylists, voice coaches and photographers in associated mediums, such as commercials, radio and film, who are ready to help you. In my experience, these professionals can genuinely help people look and sound their very best, and it doesn’t take that much time or investment to start building confidence. As with other smart moves you’ll make in your life, put yourself in the hands of professionals.

I’d suggest starting with your voice. Many of us don’t like the way we look or sound on camera but it’s hard when we first review ourselves to get beyond our face, hair or wardrobe choices. Watch a video of yourself and listen — how do you sound? Convincing? Authoritative?

Marilyn Pittman is a highly regarded voice coach who trains NPR reporters. She coached me several years ago and cracked me out of what she called my “BBC sing-song rhythm and tone.” She works with lots of executives and thinks that women in particular could be doing more with their voices: “Women business leaders need to sound authoritative, warm, and dynamic. Developing a good speaking voice involves breathing correctly, projecting your voice, varying the rhythm, tempo, pitch, and volume, and knowing how to convey the right tone and meaning of your message.”

Next up, find a wardrobe stylist to help you determine what will make you feel your most confident and empowered self on-camera. It’s not always easy to determine this for ourselves. The colors and shapes we might like in our “regular” lives don’t always translate well on camera. “You’re going to be seen within a square screen and you’ll be sitting against a colored background. Knowing the framing of the shot and what the background color is going to be will help you determine what to wear, so ask,” says stylist Chris Aysta. One editor-reporter I hired at CBS shops with a stylist each season to pick up a few pieces to add to her wardrobe that make her feel camera-ready. She’s often on the news at short notice, and doesn’t need the added stress of wardrobe selection.

Hair and makeup is an area where many people fall down. Men typically do very little, or nothing. Sarah Hyde, a talented professional I’ve worked with recently, has this to say: ”All men need a little color because the camera can wash them out, and a little anti-shine because lights really reflect on the skin.” She adds, “Given that the women tend to look polished, why shouldn’t men be too?”

For women, there may be a presumption that there will be a hair and makeup professional at their shoot. Be sure to ask. Typically, online video budgets are low and there isn’t anyone to help you. When left to themselves the tendency for women who are inexperienced on camera is to do too much. In truth HD cameras, which most studios now use, can be cruel because they show so much detail. They love gadgets and hate skin! The bottom line is that if you’re a regular on-camera you need an HD makeup kit, and to know what should go in it you need to consult with an expert.

Now you’re ready to step out in front of the camera. Your voice has been trained, your outfit complements the studio background and your hair and makeup is just enough and not too much and it still feels like you. But there is another slew of decisions to make: where to look, to smile or not to smile, to nod or not, how expansive to be with your gestures? Non-verbal cues are powerful. Author Carol Kinsey Goman who I’ve worked with many times offers this statistic: 93% of the message people receive from us has nothing to do with what we actually say. Learning about the power of non-verbal communication through on-camera training and practice is critical.

Finally there’s the content. Don’t wing it! Anticipating questions and knowing what you’re going to say is crucial to your performance and you should prepare your content in advance. If you’re not prepared, you risk slowing down the entire shoot, or under-delivering if it’s a live broadcast. Ideally you’ll have a video producer or communications specialist to work with. Good producers are typically talented writers and understand new concepts readily, and they want to put on a good show. They should be able to give you an idea of what’s expected, which can help you communicate your ideas more conversationally and succinctly. If you’re not lucky enough to have a producer, the simplest tip is to read what you’ve prepared out loud to yourself. You’ll soon know if your content is long-winded and needs to get to the point sooner since you’ll immediately be tired of listening to yourself! But again, having a producer to work with is preferable.

And that’s it! There’s a lot to master, but as video production people we want to see you do your best. Here’s what we want to see: You’ve worked your content and know how to present yourself on camera; You know what to wear, how you sound and how you look; And you’re comfortable with your non-verbal and well as verbal communication. Now you’re (finally) ready to make not only a good impression, but a lasting impact.

                                                                Marianne Wilman is President & Executive Producer of Screen Presence.

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