Water Hub Blog

How to look good on video

The pandemic has changed the way many nonprofits are doing communications and outreach. Meeting on Zoom and video has become more the norm as we increasingly rely on social media to get our message out.

But comms folks aren’t the only ones on camera. People on the frontlines, including community members and program staff, are increasingly being asked to share their experiences and expertise.

That can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be!

We pulled together this lunch-and-learn tutorial to help get you camera-ready!

(Presentation slides here!

Here’s what we covered:

  • Who’s on camera?
  • Framing and lighting
  • Going live
  • What to wear 
  • Building confidence

Key takeaways:

  • Framing:
    • Consider your background. Every piece in view has the potential to make a statement.
    • Beware of doors and windows behind you that may distract with unplanned action. Consider if there are items that can help establish your expertise, or reinforce your messaging. 
    • Be sure to position your camera/phone correctly depending on which platform you’re recording for. Horizontal usually gives the best quality. 
  • Lighting:
    • Natural light is best. It’s the kindest and most flattering. Ideally position it in front of you, so it lights your face evenly.
    • A ring light is the next best choice. Desk lamps can be too bright and blow you out if too close to you.
    • Test your lighting set up before getting on video to troubleshoot issues, like glare on glasses. (Tip: if you can avoid wearing glasses, do. They’re extremely hard to light.)
  • On camera tips:
    • Posture: Sit at the edge of your chair so you can plant your feet and straighten your back. Don’t cross your legs or fidget. If you stand, try not to shift your weight.
    • Camera: Remember to look at the camera, rather than at your own image (consider putting googley eyes next to your camera). You can hide yourself on Zoom in settings so you’re less tempted to look down.
    • Clothing: Solid colors. Avoid red, black and white. Some patterns are OK … especially if that’s authentically your style. But know that there’s a tradeoff and that they might present differently on camera.
    • Getting energized: If you are pre-recording alone in your home, it can be hard to create engaging energy. Picture your desired audience, and talk to them.
    • Prepare: Have an outline with key points you want to deliver, but don’t read from your notes unless you are quickly consulting notes for key statistics or specific language.
    • Be human: Being personable and engaging is more important than getting the words exactly right. If you fumble your words a little bit, you’ll appear human. And people trust people they can relate to.
  • Going Live:
    • Promotion: Invite your network by posting about this in advance, just as you would with other events.
    • Vibe: Live conversations can strengthen relationships by allowing you to engage with your audience in real time.
    • Algorithmic advantage: Going live will notify people active on the platform, making your content more visible to them.
    • Functionality: Facebook and Instagram allow people to donate in real time on live events.
    • Platforms: Live on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, or multicast with (paid) tools like StreamYard or Restream.
  • Managing nerves:
    • Practice. Practice with a friend. Do it again. (Record your practice sessions to fine-tune what you’d like to change during the next take. And consider practicing with a friend who knows nothing about your issues. They’ll be able to tell you if the average person will be able to understand your message or not.)
    • If you aren’t yet ready to go live, you can decide to pre-record videos initially.
    • Being real on camera can be super humanizing, helping people feel more connected to you, which makes them more receptive to your message. So don’t feel like you need to be perfect.
    • Be yourself and share your passion for your cause!
    • Practice some more! The only way to build confidence is to do it.

Have more questions about being on camera or going live? Let us know. And check out our next trainings on How to Give Good Soundbites and Working with (and Becoming?) an Influencer. 

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