5 Tips to Look Awesome on Video
By Grant Ainsley | Tips | [comments] | Posted [date]
We're only about a month away from what's sure to be a raft of stories in the news media about the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. Despite that, it seems few people have learned how to do media interviews over video and look good while doing them.
People continue to make the same mistakes when it comes to the level of their camera, lighting, the equipment they use and even where they're looking when they do the interview.
Here are four tips to make yourself look great on video and I'm throwing in a bonus tip just because I cringe when I see virtual backgrounds used in the media interviews.
#1 Raise Your Camera
When I watch people being interviewed on TV, the biggest single problem I see is their camera isn’t at eye level. Sometimes people are looking up at their camera, but far more often they’re looking down at it. Neither is good.
I shot a quick video explaining how to get the camera to the right angle.
#2 Blinded By the Light
Another classic problem I often see is people who think they would look good sitting in front of a window with a lot of natural light flowing in. To the human eye, that’s probably a good decision.
Your camera will hate you for it though and it will get back at you by making you look terrible. The aperture on the camera will see all that natural light and close. This will result in you sitting in the dark with a white glow behind you.
Find a nice-looking wall to sit in front of and when it comes to light, put one in front of you (and behind the camera) instead of behind you. You want your face to be well lit and not your back.
#3 Invest in Equipment
For the first time in history, people being interviewed are calling the technical shots much more than the TV stations and networks interviewing them. All reporters can do is spend a few minutes with each person they interview trying to make them look as good as possible by getting them to reframe, or find another spot to do the interview from.
You can make yourself look better by using an external camera (webcam) that provides for high definition video. These cameras run around $100 - $150. Some are much more, but something like a Logitech C920 HD Pro is the industry standard and does the job well. They can sit on top of your laptop or desktop, or on a tripod.
The other big upgrade you can do is to your audio. You need to get a microphone close to you, especially if you’re in a larger room with hard surfaces like hardwood and tile. An external mic that you can plug into a USB port on your computer can make a huge difference in the way you sound because you can get it just a few inches away from your mouth and tucked out of sight.
Some people use earbuds or a headphone device with a microphone. They all work, but also result in distraction. A well-placed microphone is much cleaner.
I mentioned lighting earlier. You can go crazy with lighting, but even one light to brighten your face and shoulders can make a huge difference. A table lamp, that you may already own, can do the trick.
#4 Look Into the Lens
I know this doesn’t sound like much of a tip, but you can get your camera to the right level, have good audio and lighting and still mess the interview up by not looking into the lens of the camera.
We are easily drawn into looking at ourselves during an interview. Problem is, when we talk to the reporter over video, we should look at the reporter because we’re also looking at the audience at the same time. Far too often I see people watching themselves talk and I sometimes wave at the TV to remind the person being interviewed that they’re not looking at me. “Hey there I’m over here” is something I normally utter.
This can be solved by taking a stickie, drawing an arrow on it and placing the arrow right next to the camera. This is especially valuable on tablets because it’s difficult to see the built-in camera. Once you find where the camera is on a tablet or phone, remember that spot.
#5. Lose the Virtual Background
Too many people for my liking have learned how to use virtual backgrounds on Zoom and other platforms. I guess if you want to look like you're taking in a meeting from a beach, or a mountain retreat that’s fine, but when you’re doing a media interview virtual backgrounds look cheesy.
You want the focus of the audience to be on you and not your background.
The other problem is, unless you have really good lighting and a greenscreen behind you, it will be obvious you’re using a virtual background and that doesn’t look great either.
Besides, I always wonder what people using virtual backgrounds are trying to hide?
Was There Video of It?
I'll be doing a series of videos on these tips and posting them on social media. Look for me on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and YouTube for these videos over the next few weeks. Of course you can always follow me now to make sure you get the videos.