Using a webcam is an ever more important speaking ability if you want to spread the word about what you do. It’s what many public speakers are doing to stretch their reach beyond their physical presence. But how can you WOW through a using a webcam? Let’s investigate…
In this age of daily digital duties, more and more of our business lives can be lived by using webcams. Webinars, teleconferencing – all the cool kids are doing it… as a matter of fact ALL the kids are doing it. Connecting with an online meeting or presenting a webinar via Google Hangouts, Skype, GoToMeeting, Sightspeed, ooVoo, TokBox (the list is endless really) is becoming the “norm”.
But public speaking via webcam can feel daunting. Where should I look when speaking on webcam? How do I engage my listeners? Is anyone even there…?
Here are seven Gingery tips to be brilliant at public speaking using a webcam. Let’s help you take the cyber world by storm:
Speaking using a webcam tip 1: Get the setting right
Zoom in! Even though you might like your home office, the people you’re meeting with want to see YOU. People are more likely to listen and remember what you say when your face is front and center. Zoom your webcam in to show yourself from the shoulders to the top of your head as you speak.
Clear the clutter! Once you’re showing that brilliant face of yours… get rid of that old Picasso you have behind you. The key is to have NO distractions… no pics, or paperwork, or basket of laundry that could hold the audience’s curiosity more than what you’re saying. You can be resting your feet on that laundry basket and the others will never know. (just take it off the table)
Dress your “upper” half. Although many folks working from home wear pajamas during the day, overly casual dress make for less credibility. Just as if you were meeting with others in person, make sure your wardrobe reflects professionalism.
- If you want to wear flannel on the bottom and business casual up top? Totally acceptable. Just make sure your upper body is dressed for success. Your legs can easily take a nap during a video conference.
- Allow yourself some contrast to the lovely wall behind you. If you have a dark wall then wear lighter shades for contrast. White walls ask for a flattering color on your upper half so you don’t get washed away.
Speaking using a webcam tip 2: Connect with your audience
Imagine they’re with you Using a webcam is tricky because your audience are not there in front of you. Whether you’re speaking to a small group of people you can see on their webcams, or whether you have hundreds of listeners who can see you, but you can’t see them – imagine that your audience are in the room with you. This will help you connect to real people and will make you more natural and engaging as a webcam speaker
The mirror trick: Place a small mirror in front of you whilst you’re using your webcam. Place it just below the camera, so that you can look at one friendly face whilst you speak. If your mirror is just below the webcam, it will look like you’re making direct eye contact with your audience.
Speaking using a webcam tip 3: Get organised
Lead with Power. If you’re leading a webinar, or being interviewed online, it’s important to know what you plan to say – as thinking on your feet can look indecisive and awkward on camera. Take with your bullet point notes that trigger your memories and structure your thinking around your topic.
Deny Distractions. In any situation it’s easy to get interrupted, the idea is to decrease the chance of your meeting being interrupted by a cursing coworker or your dog barking for a biscuit. Try to make your space as “safe” as possible for a video call ; put Virtual Meeting sign up in your cubicle or conference room. If at home, put your dog in another room… preferably away from your cat. Hissing and barking is NO way to have a meeting… unless the people in the meeting are hissing and then you should tell them to play nice.
Pay ATTENTION! Being in a video conference is no different than speaking face to face. That is… give the meeting your complete attention. Multitasking is not only showing that you’re uninterested, it’s RUDE.
Speaking using a webcam tip 4: Give great eye contact
Whatcha lookin’ at??? Just like any speaking situation, eye contact is vital.
- Move your… self. Adjust the little image of yourself from the bottom of your screen to the top. Yes, everyone likes looking at themselves. You can keep “yourself” at the top and glance over to make sure you’re looking tip-top and not get caught with your head down.
- Put your webcam at eye level or slightly above so that your chin is up and you’re looking at the webcam.
- YES you have to look at the webcam… not the screen. It’s awkward at first but after the first few times you get used to it. You can’t look at the other people when you’re speaking professionally, seems very odd I know, but the idea is to give THEM eye contact. You will have to get used to the idea that you can’t get visual feedback from your audience. Many of us rely on the reaction of our audience for cues… you’re speaking to the red or green light on your webcam now. Literally.
Speaking using a webcam tip 5: Use powerful body language
Body language DOES matter. Even and especially on camera.
- Start at different parts of your body from the top down.
- Get curious. Think about all the different ways you might use different parts of your physical being; your eyes, hands, or even posture in general.
- What do you already do well with your body language that helps to inspire your online audience? (eye contact, good posture, smiling)
- What do you do that distracts your audience, or reduces your impact? (fidgeting, looking away, moving your chair too much)
- Ask yourself “while public speaking on the web”:
- What am I doing in the moment as a speaker?
- What’s going on with my eyes?
- What’s going on with my hands?
- What’s going on with my body?
- What’s going on with my feet?
- How does this positively affect my audience (what’s good about it?)?
- What could I do differently and better to inspire my audience?
Speaking using a webcam tip 6: Interact with the audience
Keep their attention. One of the most common reasons webinars and other online public speaking fails to have impact is because people switch off. Think about it- you’re on your computer listening to something, so what do you do? Check your emails, flick to Wikipedia, look at your phone….
To hold your audience’s attention, ask them to participate in the ‘conversation’, even if it’s a rhetorical question. Show interesting props on camera, play a video clip, or some music – do whatever you can to add freshness to your speaking, just as you would if you were speaking to a live audience.
Speaking using a webcam tip 7: Record yourself
When in doubt… record yourself on camera. Take a look at how you sit and if you fidget. Remember that just because you’re using technology doesn’t mean that you have to be “robotic”. Utilize all the same tools in your toolkit for public speaking, modify them to fit on a computer screen and you will WOW using your webcam!