As online communication rapidly gravitates toward video–from YouTube to smart phones to video calls–executives are discovering they must use or develop a new set of communications skills.   Delivering the spoken word in a motivating fashion–especially when your audience is nowhere in sight–often is much more difficult than punching up your writing.  Here are six tips that can help you get started on the right foot–or perhaps with the right face–in communicating online via video:

  1. Ideally, speak in a head-and-shoulders shot, rather than a close-up, so that you can use natural gestures to help deliver your message, incorporating body language effectively.
  2. If you must read your presentation from a webcam, use bullet points on the computer screen below your camera and look at the camera most of the time.  The boredom factor of watching the top of your head filling the screen as you read from a piece of paper on your desk (or, worse yet, off to the side) can be insurmountable.  When you need to shift your eyes to the bullets, make a slight head shift and/or gesture to disguise the eye shift.  Don’t try to furtively pick up the next point by sneaking a peek.
  3. Avoid camera angles that require you to tilt your head down or your eyes up to the camera.  Keep the camera at eye level.  If you are using a built-in webcam, place a notebook or two under your laptop if necessary to elevate the camera so you can look into the lens straight on, without angling the computer cover.
  4. When reading from a teleprompter in a more professional video setting, work at techniques and physical motions that will make you appear more natural on-screen.  Blink on occasion (not as if you’re delivering Morse code).  Smile.  Tilt and move your head in appropriate spots during the presentation.
  5. Unless you are being recorded speaking at an event, avoid looking at other people who are in the room with you, and  don’t look up or to the side when you are presenting on camera.  Even a small shift of your eyes will look disturbingly noticeable to viewers.
  6. If you are appearing live in a webinar, try to memorize the thrust of what you want to say during on-camera transitions or major points and use graphics, words or video B-roll to cover other portions so that you can read the remaining words and be concerned only about your voice.

You should look and act as natural in your on-camera presentations as you do in your on-stage appearances.Try presenting online to friends to see what works best for you and to hone your videospokesperson skills.

—Steve Friedman