Media Training

15 Tips to Master Video Presentations

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video-presentationWhat do today's business presenters have in common with television anchors? They both have broadcasting skills. With youtube being the number two search engine and companies demanding online learning, public speaking has gone digital. According to Business Insider 2014, “About 50 million people in the U.S. now watch video on their mobile phone."  Public speakers who shun the camera will be left behind. The first step to being a master presenter is to understand the difference between in- person speaking versus video presentations. Here are a few tips for speaking in a digital media world:

  1. A video recorded presentation is one way communication. That means you can’t read the audience and pivot in the moment to meet their needs. So it takes a lot of preparation to deliver a compelling message and provide value to your target audience.
  2. In the case of teleconferencing, appoint a facilitator at each site to manage the technology and to facilitate the meeting. Be aware of delay time and plan for it by practicing longer pauses. Pause and silently count to four. That will allow enough time for the speaker to finish and for the listeners to hear the last word.
  3. Know the time zone of your audience. It may be 8:00 a.m. in New York, but if it’s 2:00 p.m. in Amsterdam you don’t want to start the meeting with “Good morning”.
  4. Display a visual agenda. People need a roadmap and it will keep the meeting or presentation focused.
  5. Have a back-up plan. Be able to continue by telephone if the video fails. It’s a good idea to do a test drive of the technology 15 minutes before the presentation. As a hedge, send the PowerPoint deck in advance.
  6. Make love to the lens. People don’t know where to look when speaking on skype. When you look directly at the caller, they see you looking down and you lose that eye connection. Try this instead: When speaking to them, look directly at the webcam. When you are listening, look at the caller.It’s uncomfortable speaking to a camera; yet that’s exactly what the presenter needs to do during webcasts and media interviews. In live presentations the presenter feeds off the audience reaction. With video, the presenter imagines the lens is a person. It’s important to maintain a steady gaze. If your eyes are darting you’ll be perceived as nervous or untrustworthy. And practice smiling and talking. Broadcasters do this easily. A serious delivery will weaken the likability factor.
  7. Video is an energy drain. There is an exchange of energy between a speaker and an audience. When that energy is strong, it’s palpable. That’s not the case with video. As a result, you won’t convey energy the way you do in a live performance. For that reason, you need to pump up your performance on video. In a video the presenter can easily come across as flat. Push your energy higher than normal to have the same intensity level when you’re live and in person.
  8. Minimize gestures. Wide, sweeping hand movements are distracting on video. Use fewer and smaller gestures. If seated, sit with both feet on the floor and lean forward at a 15 degree angle. Place both hands on the table. This is a confident speaking and listening position. You’ll be perceived as confident and it will stabilize you. Avoid excessive head nodding and jerky movements.
  9. You are always on stage. If someone else is speaking, chances are you are still in view. Be careful about sloppy behaviors such as slouching, looking at your phone, side talking or looking bored. The presentation isn’t over until the camera is off.
  10. You’ll look heavier on video. Video is two dimensional which flattens the presenter. I once was videotaping a client for a presentation. It was amazing that when I looked at her directly she appeared slim. When I looked through the camera lens she looked heavier.To manage the widening effect, dress for the camera.Remember that light colors enhance and dark colors diminish. A client of mine was unhappy with her video because she thought she looked heavy. She was wearing a boxy white jacket which gave her a wide appearance. We did a make-over. This time she wore a tapered navy blue jacket which had a slimming effect.Another way to look thinner on video is to stand at a ¾ angle with your hips back. If you’re in a close-up, drop your forehead slightly to avoid a double chin.
  11. Wear the right colors. White and black are not good colors for video. White creates glare. It’s better to wear off-white or pearl grey. Icy pastel colors look washed out on camera and are not a good choice. Red can bleed or look muddy. A better choice is burgundy. Avoid stripes and large bold patterns. You’ll look like a TV test pattern. When in doubt, blue is a good choice for video. It films well and psychologically blue means trustworthy, conservative, stable.
  12. Lighting is key. While lighting is important in a live performance, harsh lighting won’t be as damaging. On video, fluorescent lightening will highlight lines and shadows in the face and can also hurt the eyes. Use soft lighting that flatters your face.
  13. Choose the backdrop carefully. When doing a video presentation always ask about the backdrop. If you’re filming from home, make sure you don’t have messy papers stacked up behind you. If you’re filming off-site, choose clothing that will work with the backdrop. Early in my career I was being filmed for a speaker showcase.  I asked the producer if my fuchsia suit would televise well. He said yes. Unfortunately. I asked the wrong question. I should have asked “What color is the backdrop?” When I arrived I found myself in front of an orange curtain. The fuchsia suit bled into the orange and looked terrible on film. This wouldn’t have been an issue in a live presentation.
  14. You cannot be boring. Engagement is crucial.You have 5-10 seconds to grab attention in a video presentation. The key to success in video presentations is good storytelling and a highly targeted audience who will appreciate the value. Being boring is deadly in any venue. A live audience will show more tolerance by listening longer. If your video presentation is boring the viewer will click off instantly. A video presentation needs to have greater engagement. A measure of engagement, is how many people watch the entire video. According to Industry standards, a 15-20% complete viewing of a 2 minute video is considered a good engagement rate. That means most viewers are not watching the complete video.
  15. The day of the talking head is over.To increase engagement, keep a fast pace. You need to keep the video moving. Add slides and images while you are speaking. Fly in bullet points as you speak. Keep the presentation brief. If it’s a formal speech aim for no more than 18-20 minutes. Sales presentations need to be crisp, engaging, fast moving, and brief.In my own experiment, I noticed that every time I reached for the fast forward knob, the picture would change. This happened continually as if the videographer was reading my mind. Intrigued, I started to look at the time. The frames were changing every four seconds-the same time I wanted to fast forward.

If you’re not producing video presentations you’re leaving money on the table. Your digital footprint is now an important part of your personal brand. Interviewers are asking for videos. LinkedIn now allows videos to be added to profiles. Video is the ultimate selling tool. It addresses the know, like, trust factor.

Video is not going away. To be current, you need to master video presentations.

How To Be More Media Savvy

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Today’s presenters need to have broadcasting skills. I’ve been saying that for years. Even if you don’t do media interviews, you may give a presentation through videoconferencing, livestream, elearning, skype, or a webcast. There’s no avoiding it.  You need to know how to present yourself on camera. Even job candidates are being interviewed through video. And if you’re speaking at a conference, you may be filmed or asked to give some comments on video.

When your 15 minutes of fame arrives will you be ready?

To learn how to shine in media, watch my interview with Employment Law Today.  You’ll gain practical tips you can apply to your next video appearance.

You’ll learn:

  • The biggest mistake in a media intervew
  • How to handle difficult questions
  • The difference between speaking to a live audience and speaking on television.

Fundraising Presentations? Father Knows Best

family silhouettePolitical candidates spend millions of dollars on advisers, media training, speech coaching, and advertising campaigns. They curry favor with influential movers and shakers to get them to speak on their behalf. But the best political strategy is rarely utilized. Robert F. Kennedy used it. George W. Bush used it. Even Andrew Cuomo used it. A political candidate's best bet is often a public speaker in his or her own backyard. When Robert F. Kennedy's campaign was floundering, he brought in Rose Kennedy who quickly took the mic. Jenna and Barbara Bush both spoke on behalf of their dad, George W. Bush. Andrew Cuomo had his younger daughter speak about his softer side (kids are often the best fundraisers). All three candidates won.

You don't need professional speakers. Have your family speak on your behalf.

Public speaking is not simply about good rhetoric. The messenger is as important as the message. I was reminded of this when I received this fundraising email from a candidate's father. While this is by no means a political endorsement, I do admire and commend the approach and the message. This is more powerful than any other kind of presentation, whether spoken or written. It's all about family.

Diane,

I’m just a few moments away from boarding a plane bound for Uganda. This is the first time my family will set foot in this country since we were expelled in 1972.My daughter, Reshma, can’t be with us today because she’s in New York fighting for people like me, like us.

I came here as a political refugee. I had to change my name from Mukund to Mike, so I could find work. It wasn’t easy for us.

Reshma saw us struggle, and she learned to fight to create better opportunities for families like ours.

Now, Reshma’s opponent has launched the first attack in the Public Advocate campaign. She’s saying that Reshma is out of touch with working people.

Out of touch? Not my daughter.

Reshma is a former Deputy Public Advocate, and the founder of Girls Who Code. Reshma has spent her life fighting to create better opportunities for underserved and disadvantaged people.

She needs your help right now to fight back. Will you help her out?

Sign up now and tell your family, friends, and neighbors that Reshma is committed to fighting for opportunities for all New Yorkers.

If you can’t volunteer, will you please donate $19.72 now to help her out?

Thank you for supporting my daughter.

Best, Mukund Saujani

TEDx Silicon Alley Tells Public Speakers to Keep it Simple

TED.com stands for technology, education, and design. Some of the top and most innovative public speakers can be seen on youtube giving an 18 minute presentation on new and creative topics. It's very competitive to get a speaking slot at a TED.com event, so many presenters are opting to organize and speak at local events called TEDx. I recently attended the TEDx Silicon Alley event in New York City. The theme was "Rise of the Machines," but what stood out to me was the connection between technology and human presentation. One of the presenters, Ken Segall, represented the agency that worked with Apple. He was the man credited for naming the iphone and ipad. He spoke about Steve Jobs and his focus on the simplicity principle. The presenter showed an effective ad for McDonalds coffee. It stated: Any size for only $1.00. It was elegant in it's simplicity.  Da Vinci said, "Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication."

I continue to focus on the K.I.S.S. principle when I speak to audiences. Whether you say Keep it simple stupid, or Keep it super simple, it's not easy to do. When I coach public speakers I tell them to create a short and long version of their presentation. They discover that's it's easier to create a longer presentation. As Ken explained, "Simple can be harder than complex".

My clients realize they have to work harder to get the message clear enough to be simple. They quickly learn that I act as "the lowest common denominator". These presenters must be able to speak so that I understand the message without being an expert in their industry. One presenter told me that when he worked in a law firm they would give a memo or letter to the assistant to read. If she didn't understand it, they rewrote the letter until it was clear.

The more complex the idea, the crisper the message needs to be. This is especially critical when speaking to the media. Professional speakers have a harder time with media training. Motivational speakers are master storytellers so they must make a shift in their presentation. I show them how to speak in sound bites. The average sound bite is about 10 seconds. If it's not short and simple, it won't land and the audience will check out.

Many of the TEDx Silicon Alley speakers focused on technology, from text to speech to algorithms to flying robots. Whether it's face-to-face or virtual, we can't get away from the need for good presentation. How do you tie these two worlds together? The thread that runs through both is simplicity. Steve Jobs said it best when he said about simplicity: "it's worth it in the end because you can move mountains."

Why Romney's Presentation Failed And What He Can Do About It

The political stage is a fascinating study of the power of the presentation. When it comes to public speaking and media training, Romney has two areas to address. Unless he can improve these two areas, he will plummet in the polls.

The first area is language.

Romney's recent remarks which were secretly recorded have been replayed continuously in the media. He stated, "There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what." If Romney had made that one statement his presentation and media image may have been salvaged.

His presentation derailed with this next statement.  "There are 47% who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

His first statement that 47% will vote for the president is a marketing decision. He's saying that's not his target market. In any campaign, the candidate or marketer will focus time, effort, and money where there will be the greatest return. In other words, he knows they're not his fans.

The second statement felt like an attack and many people reacted negatively. Given that part of the 47% are elderly it sounded callous although that was not the intent.  A good media trainer would advise him to quickly apologize for misspeaking and to reword his statement. The challenge for all politicians and any public speaker in the limelight is that the media can take one soundbite and kill your reputation. Persons in the eye of the media must remember that they are always being recorded and that even speaking one-to-one is public speaking.

Remember when Jessie Jackson was a presidential candidate and made a religious slur in New York City? He was talking to an individual and someone in the crowd overheard him and reported it. Although he wasn't recorded, it had the same effect on his presentation and reputation.

For the non-famous public speakers, once you leave the stage, you're forgotten. But if you're a politician the media will replay and spin your presentation into the stratosphere.

The second area is delivery.

Romney looks and speaks like an executive. But like Al Gore, he appears stiff. When he says he cares about the poor and middle class the message lands as facts rather than warmth. Yet, when he's on a talk show he's more relaxed and his personality comes through. As a public speaker he needs to enhance his presentation with more self disclosure, personal stories, and more effective language. When he speaks with passion and can convey caring he'll increase his ability to connect.

These comments are non-partisan and related to the presentation of the candidate and not policies. What do you think Romney needs to do to improve his presentation in the media?

 

 

 

When Celebrity Speakers Fail to Deliver

Last night I was a guest speaker for ABWA. My presentation was Speak Powerfully Sell More: Speak Your Way to More Business. One woman in the audience asked a question about how to handle a celebrity who is hired to speak and doesn't deliver. This woman went on a rant about how many of these celebrities are not good speakers and yet meeting planners continue to hire them. I explained that the reason for that was event planners want to sell tickets. An event will sell out when the keynote speaker is a celebrity.

This made me reflect on my own experience at conferences and I had to agree. I recall one convention where I signed up for the lunch event  for an additional charge. The guest speaker was a well known television personality. And he was late! We had already been served the main course before he cavalierly sauntered on stage in his jeans and pec-enhanced tee shirt. I enjoyed his stories but I couldn't get past his lateness. He never made mention of it. The woman sitting next to me had booked celebrity speakers in a past job and told me that they don't care if they're late. They expect everybody to wait for them.

It seems that some celebrities don't prepare or don't know the audience. One woman media personality gave a presentation about herself and her career path. Who cares? Can you spell BORING? Some celebrity speakers trade on their name and expect to be paid just for showing up.

A number of years ago, I was hired by the National Basketball Association when they launched the NBDL (minor league team). My job was to media train the team presidents and media relations people of these newly formed teams. The media training was well-received. One woman thanked me and said that she had recently been part of the Olympic committee. The committee brought in the "big gun" media trainers who were television anchors. She confided to me that these anchors "Just showed us videos and told us stories. But you showed us how to do it."

Once again, it's all about perceived value. I'm sure I made a fraction of what they paid these anchors. But because of their celebrity status, they were considered excellent media trainers.

So what is the solution? How can meeting planners and speakers bureaus ensure that the celebrity speakers can deliver? They can't.  Some guest speakers have a good reputation for consistently delivering a great keynote speech. Hire them. But let's say you want a particular celebrity for your meeting because you'll sell out your event, but you know the speaker doesn't have very good platform skills?

Don't give the celebrity the keynote speech. Instead, feature them as the main event for an interview on stage. Conduct the interview "Charlie Rose" style. Then hire a professional speaker who can wow the crowd or has strong content. The audience will get exposure to the celebrity or guest, the celebrity's ego will be intact as the main act, and you won't lose your reputation as an event planner.

When it comes to meetings and events, public speaking skills matter. The event is only as good as the speakers. The audience will pay to hear a celebrity, but if he doesn't deliver, they may not come back the next time.

If you book celebrity speakers, I'd love to hear how you ensure that they will deliver on the platform. And what do you do when they disappoint the audience? Would you hire a celebrity speaker the next time? Or would you try a less known presenter or entertainer?

Political Presentations: The Double Standard Continues

GOP DebatersIn June, I blogged about Michele Bachmann and the double standard for women politicians. It seems that the media continues to display sexism toward women candidates. Whether it's Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, or Michele Bachmann there seems to be an element of sexism even as we approach 2012. First we had to hear the commentary each time Hillary had a new hairstyle. While this may be appropriate for a First Lady, when a woman is running for political office she ought to be taken more seriously. How often do we critique a male candidate's hair? (Donald Trump doesn't count).

During the Republican debates, Michele Bachmann was accused of not knowing her facts - even when she did. In one debate, she bested Newt Gingrich regarding his involvement in Fannie Mae, yet the media did not make much of her win.

The most recent sexist remark was by John McLaughlin of the McLaughlin Group when he said we have a "Gal Candidate".  A GAL?  A friend asked me if I would find it offensive if his 87 year old father referred to a woman as a gal. I replied, "No. He's a product of his times. But a journalist and moderator knows better. He's on national TV and is subject to professional standards.  He didn't refer to 'guy candidates'".

Language is a mirror into how one thinks. It's difficult to be taken seriously as a woman candidate when you're called a "gal". It's amazing that this kind of double standard is going on in the U.S., when other countries have elected a woman president or prime minister.

As a public speaker and debater, Michele Bachmann has handled  herself well by sticking to the facts and not showing a lot of emotion.  Will gender always be a factor?  Is it possible to evaluate the candidates on their merits, without considering gender?  Or will it always color our perceptions?

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