Improving On-Camera Body Language

Today, everyone is on-camera. Competitive radio and podcast hosts now also have a video presence, executives are presenting on video chat more often and nearly everyone does social media video. Mindfully practicing good movement, gestures and expressions can add energy, emotion or meaning.

The best presenters move and do stuff. But if you are not used to being on-camera, you may feel uncertain about what to do with your hands, how to stand and where to move. Here are five tips to experiment with.

  1. Don’t speak. Before the camera rolls, do a silent run-through and attempt to communicate using only gestures, movement, and facial expressions. You will feel ridiculous but this helps most people discover a few appropriate, natural actions to use in your first take.
  2. Learn from actors. Coaching an out of shape presenter for a segment where he participated in a real NFL practice, we studied a funny clip of silent film star Buster Keaton playing football. Watch movies or TV with the sound off and you will begin to notice lots of subtle but effective body language.
  3. Use props. If you are discussing a book, show the cover. Have a hammer in-hand when discussing home building or wave car keys at the camera if you are introducing a new auto.  A prop gives you something to do and can help make your message more memorable.
  4. A little goes a long way. A raised eyebrow, leaning forward for emphasis or moving your feet a couple of steps can be incredibly dynamic. Try something as simple as buttoning your sleeve, like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson seems to do constantly.
  5. Mind and body are connected. Get in touch with how you feel about the topic or material and let your face and body convey that emotion. You can also use your body to release emotion, assuming a powerful stance or extending your arms wide to convey confidence.

Final tip: Replace your handheld mic with a lavalier or boom mic if you can and free your hands for a stronger, more natural presence.