Let’s get started by addressing the elephant in the room: COVID-19.
We’ve all had enough of it by now, so we’re not going to dwell on it for long. With that said, it’s the main driver behind an increasing move amongst public speakers to carry out their work online instead of in person.
And there are a lot of good reasons for that. Sure, communicating online is never going to totally replace communicating in person, and there will always be a place for in-person events. At the same time, it comes with a whole host of interesting characteristics that make it worth thinking about. For example, it removes geographical barriers and makes it easier to scale, allowing public speakers to address many more people.
But switching to online communication means re-learning the art of public speaking and getting to know how to apply tried and tested techniques in front of a camera, and that’s where this week’s article comes in. Here are our top tips to help you adapt from speaking in person to speaking on camera.
How to Adapt from Speaking in Person to Speaking on Camera
1. Focus on the camera instead of the audience
As public speakers, we’re used to looking out at the audience while we speak. Many public speaking coaches recommend finding someone in the crowd to look at and to picture yourself delivering the presentation to them, but we can’t do that when we’re presenting online. Instead, the best thing to do is to treat the camera as your focal point in the audience. It can be difficult to make this change because it’s unusual for us to talk to inanimate objects, but it makes a huge difference to the way you’re perceived by the people who are watching.
2. Place an emphasis on equipment
At in-person events, it’s always a good idea to check and double check all the equipment that you’re planning to use. This becomes even more important when you’re speaking online. Set up all of your equipment before you get started and be sure to have a trial run so that you can troubleshoot and look for potential pitfalls. Your equipment is your line to the world. If your camera doesn’t work or your microphone cuts out, you’re in trouble.
3. Pay attention to your acoustics
When you’re speaking at a venue, you’ve got a head start because they’re generally designed with acoustics in mind. When you’re presenting via a camera at home, you need to think about the acoustics of the room you’re in. You can experiment with panels and baffles to improve your sound quality, and you can also find microphones that are specifically designed with certain environments in mind.
4. Practice speaking while sitting
You might be surprised at how much of a difference it can make to your public speaking when you’re sitting down instead of standing up. We’re all used to presenting on our feet, and so doing the same thing while sitting in an office chair can feel strange and even alien. There’s really no way to get around this, so if it’s something you struggle with, you’ll want to spend some time practicing speaking while sitting so that you can get more comfortable with it.
5. Learn how to use the software you’re working with
Different software packages have different tools and settings. For example, Skype is very different to Zoom, even though the two of them offer similar functionality. To best prepare for any situation that might arise, familiarize yourself with your software. That can mean having dry runs ahead of big presentations or using the software on a personal level so that you’re already familiar with it before you ever sit down to use it professionally.
6. Focus on tone of voice
Tone of voice is already something that we need to focus on as public speakers, but it becomes even more important when we’re presenting to camera. That’s because while people can see us, our body language becomes less effective when it’s seen through a camera lens as opposed to in person. Instead of trying to overcompensate for that, it makes a lot more sense to focus on tone of voice and the way that we speak, because people will look more to that when deprived of body language cues.
7. Make sure you have a decent connection
We’ve all been in an online meeting where one of the participants keeps cutting out or dropping from the call. Make sure that it isn’t you. True, we can’t foresee all problems and if our network goes down on the day of a big presentation, it’s not always our fault. What we can do, though, is to make sure that we’ve selected an appropriate ISP package that’s suitable for quickly and reliably transmitting the large amounts of data that we’ll be using when we spend a lot of time presenting online.
8. Have someone to back you up
This builds on the last point. Even though we can’t always avoid connection issues and other problems, we can arrange for someone to back us up so that they can come in and help out if something goes wrong. You can think of it as being like having a second when you fight in a duel. You need someone in your corner so that if something goes wrong on your end, they can swoop in and save you.
9. Start sharing recordings
One thing to remember about speaking to camera is that everything you do is normally recorded. Because of that, you’ll gain access to a treasure trove of recordings that you can share with event attendees and use to further promote yourself. For example, you could publish recordings on YouTube or use them as the basis of a highlights reel. Get used to repurposing the recordings you make and finding new ways to use them.
10. Learn to network online
Last but by no means least, just because you’re transitioning from speaking at events to speaking online doesn’t mean that the same fundamentals of networking should no longer apply. Instead, you’ll need to network online, just like you would network in person. This means building relationships with people who attend your online events, but you’ll also want to get used to building connections on social networking sites.
Now that you know our top tips for adapting from speaking in person to speaking online, we want to hear from you. Have you made the switch? And if so, how did you find it? What surprised you – and what didn’t?
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts, so be sure to let us know in the comments so that we can keep the discussion going. You can also follow us on your favorite social networking sites for more. We’ll see you soon for another article!