5 clear and actionable video talk tips to nail your online presentations

I’ve been giving video talks recently, following courses about and reflecting on it. I made a schema for myself with some video talk tips… and this is what I’m sharing 🙂

1.- First things first. Get tech ready.

This is a truism, but you need the appropriate tech. There are lots of posts out there if you want to go further, but I’ll go with the bare minimum.

Light Therapy lamps are not the bare minimum, I agree. But what’s behind is important. When you make a remote talk, you need to adapt your pace to your audience’s. It is your 10PM, but it is 1PM for your audience: you should look like it’s 1PM for you too. On one hand, your place should have light enough. On the other one, you should be/look energized as if it is 1 PM.

Lights are important in 2 ways. You want to have enough light as you be clear on camera. Light is also building the storytelling. Do you want to look like 1PM or look like 10PM? Same for the background. It tells a story that you should put to work for you and your talk. E.g. You decide to give a talk from a sunny beach in the Canary Islands. It’d be your decision and it could work -again, think the background is part of the storytelling-. But think it twice if your audience is supposed to be in a frozen place, at night.

If you are wondering the tool I used for those charts is https://excalidraw.com/

The Camera is also important. It must assure good quality and be placed in front of your eyes. Thumb rule: you must look at the camera if you want to look natural. This sometimes means you’d need a tripod. Again, there are lots of webcam comparisons on the Internet that you may like to check before purchasing a camera. Let me just add a couple of tips.

  • Your laptop camera could assure enough quality. But think you need to look at the camera. Place the laptop conveniently or you’ll be looking upside down. 2 alternatives then: hold the laptop at your eyes’ height or use a webcam with a tripod. Why a tripod? If you hold the webcam on your laptop you will likely have the same position issue.
  • Check you don’t have too much light as it could be very distracting. Even tiring for you: if you have too much light pointing at you, you can feel rapidly depleted. It’s not the more the better, but you need the right dose of light on your face.

Pro tip. If you have 2 screens and you are using PowerPoint, take a look at the setup below. You can see at a glance the active slide, the next one, your notes… and all this still watching to the camera (This equals to your audience eyes)!

Screens setup for a talk. 2 screens (laptop + a big one) with powerpoint
Screens setup for this talk. 2 screens (laptop + a big one) with powerpoint

2.- First thing first, take 2. Get yourself ready.

It’s difficult to connect when you’re not face to face. When in front of a conventional auditory the scenario helps you. Think about a theatre, the visual space converges on the stage. But when you’re on a screen you’re just one of the diverse alternatives your audience has for their attention. You need an extra dose of energy. People in better.on video shared with me some rules that I translated into a scalidraw pic:

Breathe for 2 minutes, jump 25 times, stare at the screen for a minute, and make some stretching. With this you do feel fully focus and energized, you can bet, ready to start! The only thing they didn’t mention is that you can feel like a greyhound in a cage waiting for the green lights. So when you start your talk you can look overly hyped. Just keep in in mind and ration out your energy, especially during the first seconds.

3.- Be confident and comfortable

Feeling confident and comfortable arguably is the most important step to giving a great talk. I’ve exchanged some good advice about strategies and approaches to feel confident. I need to credit overall my coach Steph, ever brilliant and radio-phonic Richard Midson, and what I got from Better.On Video course.

The first step is to allow yourself to be yourself. So simple. If you were chosen to give the talk, it was for a reason. You don’t need to pretend to be another person. You’re an expert so say bye to the imposter syndrome.

Want an example? My English could be better. Sometimes my pronunciation is bad to the point I’m not understood. Sometimes I cannot find a word or when I think I found it, it means something different from what I wanted, etc. I could choose to feel bad about my English but this would just make things worse. The gist is: I’m a brilliant guy with interesting things to say and that’s why I’m here. I never said I was native, so I consciously choose not to punish myself because of my English. If I cannot find a word or I cannot pronounce it, I smile, breath for some seconds (even more than I actually need), and try to say it in other words. Just so. People are interested in my ideas and this is what I’m delivering.

Same applies to your physical appearance or your clothing / attire. This is the person you are. But people are not here to opine on your t-shirt or if you should wear a costume (If they do they are wasting their time, don’t allow these few to make you waste yours). They are here to listen to your ideas. And this is what you’re delivering.

Side Note: Exception to the above is when your clothing is part of your message. You can use a tshirt to promote a brand or a idea (I love my HAPPIÑEZ T-shirt) or to invite people to follow you on twitter / have a coffee with you at the end.

Another thing that works -for me- is to spend 10-15 minutes just before the talk on things that make me chill out. It could be doing something, or focusing on something that makes you feel relaxed, like thinking of a beach… Bose noise cancellation HeadPhones with Weightless by Marconi Union makes the miracle for me.

4.- Be Passionate about what you are talking about.

So simple.

Time ago someone told me that I had given a great talk. They mentioned they weren’t interested in the topic but they got caught by the passion I talked about. (Unfortunately things don’t always happen this way). I wanted to understand where they perceived this passion to repeat it.

They told me I sounded as if I were in a Restaurant with some friends, after the dessert, talking about my favorite topic. That they loved that my storytelling was colorful, that I was humanized and I didn’t sound like talking from ‘the podium’. This made me sound genuine: I was engaged with the topic and this made me sound engaging. Even more, they told me I was so excited about the topic that they were under the impression that they could feel my personality because it was somehow included in the message. And this made the talk more vulnerable, but also more honest and genuine.

I can tell you that these words inspire me each time I give a talk. I try to visualize the “meal with friends” scenario.

And 5.- Connection is like a dance: movement and intonation.

The last one of my video talk tips. You need to connect with the audience to be sure your message reaches the target. But you cannot build this connection out of words. It’s more about the wrapping you use for these words: the intonation, the body movement, the eye contact…

I got from a talk that intonation is 38% and Body Movement 55% of the result. I can’t help LMAO with these figures. There are sooo arbitrary! And that’s the reason for what I kept them for my card. The facts beyond them are way more important than the percentages. For instance:

  • Intonation is important. If you sound boring, the whole thing will be boring. If you sound like about to go to sleep, you’ll get the audience to sleep.
  • Your movement while you talk is like your choreography and contributes to keep the interest high. I know it’s more difficult if you are sitting. why don’t you try a standing desk for your online talks? Check if it works for you! It usually does.
  • Sometimes using an object could be a part of this choreography. It could be a paper with notes -that you should not really need- or anything that you use to make your storytelling more appealing, real, vivid. They could be awesome tools… if you don’t forget to make eye contact again, once used…
  • Don’t lose eye contact. It adds credibility to what you are saying. Your audience will perceive it as you talking to them. This is particularly difficult when you are using the laptop camera (see 1st section). I’d ponder using an external camera that is conveniently placed in front of your eyes.

Here you have my 5 video talk tips, as promised in the title 😀 What are yours? I’d love to read your POVs or takes on this and learn from them!

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