Body Language Mistakes to Avoid in Your Video Presentations

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Whether you are being interviewed on TV, or presenting on video camera, your aim is to create a positive experience for your viewers, and put them at ease.

This means reducing anything that could create a visual barrier (consciously or subconsciously) between you and your audience.  From my experience, I have seen many people who are appear very confident in real life, suddenly buckle or lose their nerve when looking into the cold staring eye of the camera lens. The camera seems to draw out and magnify their nervous mannerisms or underlying tension.

Presenting to camera requires a completely different skill-set from public speaking or presenting on stage – a fact that very few people seem to be aware of.  This is due to the technical requirements demanded by the camera (more on this in future articles).

Here are a few crucial tips to prevent you from making some all too common body language mistakes

Hand to face gestures

In particular, it is hard to know what to do with your hands when you are being filmed.  Do whatever it takes – even sit on your hands if you have to, but dont make any hand to face gestures!

Yes, you can still use your hands to gesture, but ensure that your camera framing is in a medium to close-shot so that your hands don’t monopolize the screen.

High profile public officials, TV presenters and interviewers have been trained to avoid such things when addressing their audience. Observe them closely, and you will see that they rarely touch their face.

Also, from a technical perspective, some video cameras have difficulty tracking hand gestures – resulting in a blurred effect on-screen.

Many hand to face gestures convey subconscious meanings that you may not be aware of:

Eye rubbing – Associated with deception, or not liking a situation or person

Nose touching – A common signal for not telling the truth, lack of sincerity

Hair touching (twirling your hair) – In women this can signal low confidence, needing reassurance, or even flirting – all of which weaken the impact of your message

Remember however, that body language is subjective and is open to interpretation.  It differs across many cultures. You could in fact have an itchy eye, or a runny nose – but fight the urge and make an effort to save the itching and rubbing until after you have finished filming.

What other body language mannerisms have you found to be distracting or off-putting when viewing online videos?

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2 thoughts on “Body Language Mistakes to Avoid in Your Video Presentations

  1. Great article!  Gestures are so important and many people don’t even realize what they are doing with their hands during a presentation.  I always advise my clients to only gesture when you have purpose.  

    1. Gesture with purpose is a very good reminder Stacey thank you. When operating within the confines of the video camera frame, the viewer has nothing else to look at except what you have framed in your shot. So “e-v-e-r-y-thing” within the frame takes on a greater significance. One advantage is that you now control, your audience’s gaze – you are telling them where to look, and what to pay attention to. This is exactly what film directors do, they control all the visual elements on camera to influence and shape the audience’s attention, experience and emotion. So its important that any gestures used, are used to highlight or draw attention to a key-point. Any excessive body movement on screen will upstage-one every time. On camera, stillness (not to be confused with stiffness) will a-l-w-a-y-s command attention on screen.

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