Social distancing and stay-at-home orders associated with COVID-19 have accelerated the use of video calling services in business and social settings. Because we’re all spending a lot more time connecting with one another through our devices, we’re starting to think a lot more about how we present ourselves across the digital divide. Or, at least, we should be.
Giving a presentation, conducting a media interview, or just participating in an internal meeting is a dramatically different experience via video than in person. Company leaders, in particular, face a new and different challenge — not only must you inform, engage and support your workforce during a historically stressful time for your employees and your business, you’ve got to do it through a screen.
Below are a few tips to help health care leaders ace their next video engagement. Click here to download our full checklist for telling a compelling story during remote presentations and media interviews.
Sweat the setup.
Most of us have phones in our pockets that allow us to record a video or join a video chat almost instantly, but that doesn’t mean it’s our best tool for the job. A good video presentation or interview will put the speaker in the best possible light (literally) and minimize any audio or visual distractions that could keep the viewer from concentrating on your message.
So find a place you can sit comfortably and make sure your web cam or embedded laptop camera is positioned on a fixed surface at eyebrow level — you don’t want viewers looking up your nose or at the top of your head. Then take a look at what’s behind you. A neat, organized background — think well-styled bookshelves in a home office — is what you’re going for. Make sure there isn’t any clutter, but don’t choose a blank wall and definitely avoid a window with sunny exposure. Virtual backgrounds can be helpful to mask a challenging location, but those are best executed with a green screen to avoid digital distortion as you move.
Perhaps most importantly, scrutinize your lighting and sound. You want your face to be well-lit, so face a window, fill your room with lamps or, better yet, set up a ring light or other professional lighting (and be sure to use warm toned bulbs). Experiment with your audio options, too. Sometimes the microphone on your device is good enough, but for high-quality sound consider an external microphone you can sit on your desk or clip to your lapel.
Up your energy.
People on the other side of the camera can’t sense your energy or body language the way they can when you’re face to face. To come across as warm, friendly and engaging you have to amp it up a little. Use good posture, increase the volume of your voice and use inflection. Even if you’re reading from a script, make sure you vary your tonality and deliver with confidence. Look at the camera as if you’re looking at your audience. Smile a little, if it’s appropriate, and go ahead and use your hands when you talk, so long as you aren’t waving or poking at the camera.
Keep it moving.
In the current environment, most people are engaging in video events from their homes where their attention can be divided by the ding of text or email notification, the sound of their dog barking or their co-quarantining children asking for snacks or help with school work. Video presentations and interviews should be short and to the point, focusing on the most salient information you want to convey, and your audience wants to hear.
If you’re giving a presentation using slides, keep the text to a bare minimum and include strong graphics on every slide. Break up the monotony by switching topics frequently, asking a question or taking a poll if your software allows it. In a media interview, remember the average sound bite is just a few seconds long — map out your key messages in advance and work on delivering them clearly and succinctly.
Assume that you’re being recorded.
Unlike face to face meetings or presentations, where you would likely notice a camera or recording device, it can be difficult to impossible to know if you’re being recorded during a video presentation or interview. Best to assume that everything your saying or putting on screen is “on the record.” Consider recording yourself so you can analyze playback and critique your own presentation (but as a professional courtesy, make sure others on the call know they’re being recorded).
Give yourself a break.
Even though many of us have been sheltering at home for six weeks or more, we’re all still getting used to video as a daily tool and everyone is facing their own challenges. Do your best, and if you need a partner to help you prepare your presentation strategy, message and execution — from updates for your clinical teams to interviews with national network news programs — reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.