Let’s face it, most people hate seeing themselves on camera, but when you’re a business executive in a large company it’s becoming an increasing reality. Sometimes it will be for a media interview- you may be talking face-to-face with an anchor or reporter- or you may be doing a remote interview where you are sitting in a studio talking to an anchor who is in another city. But more often, in our global business environment, we are sitting in front of a camera that is embedded in or sits atop our laptops. How many of our meetings are now done via video conference- even skype or facetime? I’m even aware of companies who do job interviews via video conference. Looking and sounding your best is critical as our business world increasingly uses technology to bridge geographies.
Here are some tips on how to channel your executive presence when that camera is on.
- Look into the camera. The only exception to this is when you are in a face to face interview situation with a reporter or in a press conference. In those situations- you look at the reporter asking the questions- not at the camera. But in all of the other scenarios – even that virtual meeting – look into the camera. It’s about eye contact. Shifting eyes suggest dishonesty and uncertainty. Think about where the camera lens is- especially in those virtual meeting situations. We tend to look at our laptop screen- but in reality to have that all important eye contact you will need to look just above the monitor screen where the camera is mounted or embedded. When you are in a remote interview situation where the anchor is in another city---look down the barrel of the camera lens. To the audience watching at home—you are looking at them and the interviewer. How would it look if the CEO of a company was on CNBC or Fox Business trying to reassure investors that the company would deliver a solid performance in Q4 ---if his eye contact was sporadic. It might make you wonder! Look into the camera!
- Sit up Straight. Did you know that when we think, we tend to slouch? Slouching could be viewed as a lack of confidence. But when you sit up straight—you send a strong- commanding message. Women if your legs are exposed, cross them and sit up straight. This is something that I have asked female executives to practice in front of a mirror. Not all legs are the same and where you cross them is worth thinking about. At the ankle—the knee? Consider your skirt length when you are on camera and crossing your legs. A short skirt often gets shorter when you cross your legs---ask yourself if it works on camera.
- Avoid excessive fidgeting. Some of us have a tendency to use large hand gestures when we speak or when we’re enthusiastic about a subject. Using some hand gestures is okay, but try and keep them within the frame of your body. Avoid gestures that imply nervousness like tapping, thumb twiddling, or fussing with pocket change or a pen – or your hair! I’m seeing lots of young women habitually play with their hair! Instead use your gestures to drive your message and align them with your words.
- Prepare your message ahead of time. When you feel prepared you look prepared. Your confidence and practical wisdom will be apparent to your audience. You will appear more credible as a result. Often, when we help clients prepare for interviews we use a tool called The Quick Prep Method. The Quick Prep Method is a tool that uses 180 Thinking to allow you to prepare a presentation in as little as 30 minutes. Write down the questions on your audience’s mind and then answer them in bullet-point style. This is just good general practice whether it is for a media interview, a virtual meeting, or a virtual job interview! Be ready!
- Be aware of your energy. If you feel drained or are monotone --people will notice. Smile and be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it. Being overly enthusiastic might make you seem nervous.
For more tips on how to speak to the media, register for our Speak to the Media Seminar