Influencing Remotely On-Camera: Your Eye Focus

September 30th, 2020

When you work remotely on camera, it’s important to know where to focus your eyes, so that stakeholders will feel connected to you. Effective eye focus will help you enhance your credibility and build trust. Here are two situations to consider:

If you are leading or participating in an on-camera meeting where the format is group discussion, feel free to look at the screen, seeing all the faces.

On camera, when you are giving a presentation or conducting a webinar, or when you’re the featured speaker, it’s important for each participant to feel that you are looking directly at him or her, making direct eye contact. This is also true when you’re doing an on-camera meeting with only one other person.

TV and film actors will tell you that it’s all in the eyes. This applies to on-camera business meetings, especially during times of disruption, because the eyes help project confidence, candor, and empathy. On camera, this will strengthen your connection with your stakeholders.

Often, the best way to do this is by looking directly into the camera as you speak. This may take a bit of experimentation, because where your eyes land can depend on whether you’re using a desktop computer, laptop computer, or mobile device and whether your stakeholders are seeing a landscape view or a portrait view of you.

It is useful to hold a practice video session with a friend or trusted colleague, using the device that you’ll be using in your meeting. As you speak, look directly into the camera, look at the person’s face, look at their forehead, look at their eyes, etc., and have this person tell you which of your behaviors allows them to feel that you are making direct eye contact. Then, that is the behavior for you to practice.

In situations when you feel that looking directly into the camera is your best choice, train yourself to tolerate any initial discomfort you may have. Practice makes progress!

Remember that on-camera work is an unnatural experience, so it’s understandable that speakers need to make some adjustments. And do remember not to check your emails during your on-camera meetings or do any other multitasking, because your eyes will reveal that your attention is divided!

Your eyes are the window to your soul. Allow your eyes to help you project confidence, candor, and empathy and help your stakeholders feel connected to you!

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Make Your Stakeholders View You in the Best Light When You Work Remotely On Camera

August 6th, 2020

Good lighting is critical when you work on camera. So critical, that many film actors learn about how their own faces should be lit, to show their features to the greatest advantage. And cinematographers often refer to something called the “golden hours”, when natural lighting is best for the camera: sunrise and sunset.

While you can’t hold all your remote business meetings during the golden hours, and you probably don’t have all the concerns that film actors have, there is a lot you CAN do to ensure that your lighting enhances your leadership presence on camera.

Always be sure that there’s enough light on your face. Too much light will make you look washed out, and too little light is frustrating for the viewers and may encourage them to start putting their attention elsewhere.
If you can face a window while you’re on camera, that’s optimal, as long as you’re not in direct sunlight. If the sun comes pouring in, lower your blinds or shades and adjust them before each meeting. If there’s still too much light, using a green screen will help.
Be sure that you’re never lit from the back, because that will cast dark shadows across your face or make your whole image too dark.

You may want to purchase a ring light, or use lamps. Experiment with your lighting.

Plan what will work best in your space and test it in advance. Ask a friend or trusted colleague to view your lighting while you’re on camera and give you feedback.

Good lighting is fundamental to looking good on camera. It will help you project your professionalism and enhance your leadership presence.

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Doing Business Remotely: Now You’re On TV, So Look & Sound Like a Leader!

July 11th, 2020

With your move from in-person business meetings to on-camera platforms, your adjustment is similar to the adjustment that Broadway actors make when moving from stage work to working on camera for TV and film: how to be convincing in a very different medium.

You know, for example, that every actor and spokesperson on a TV commercial has to project the qualities that are needed to sell ideas, products, and services through a television screen. And these are the same qualities that YOU need to project during your on-camera platforms during this time of business disruption.

Now, as a business leader, you’re on TV! So you need to LOOK the part and SOUND the part.

During this time of business disruption and working remotely, one of the most critical factors for successful leadership is the use of emotional intelligence. On-camera meetings require much more EQ than IQ. And that means projecting qualities that Increase Trust On Camera: confidence, clarity, candor, empathy, and openness.

You probably excel at projecting these qualities in person, but how do you project these qualities when people are looking at your image on a computer screen or mobile device?

Now, more than ever, business leaders need to remember what actors have known for decades: the camera never lies! It picks up every subtle nuance of your being.

It’s important to understand that working on camera is an unnatural experience for two reasons: (1) It’s a small medium, visually; highly focused and concentrated, and (2) It robs us of the advantage of human, kinetic energy that’s so important during in-person communication.

On camera, we need to compensate for the fact that we’ve lost the KINETIC factor.

As a business leader, you’ll want to do everything possible to help your viewers feel your personal, positive, and compelling energy — while they’re looking at you on a small screen!

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PowerPoint Presentation Tips: How to Keep Your Audience Tuned IN! (Part 3)

September 30th, 2017

When you use PowerPoint, are you actually diminishing your image as an expert – or even helping your audiences tune you out?  If your answer may be YES, you need PowerPoint Presentation Tips for real speaking power.

Today’s VideoBlog gives you the solutions:  PowerPoint Presentation Tips, Part 3.   In previous blogs, I presented Tips #1 through 6.

  • Tip #7:  At any point in your presentation where you plan to move close to your audience for dramatic effect, help focus audience attention by placing a black slide in your deck.
  • Tip #8:  When you want to focus attention on yourself for a longer period of time, allow the screen to go completely dark. Use the “B” key for this.
  • Tip #9:  Always make your final slide an image slide:  this image should illustrate the inspirational closing that you will speak. 

Finally, Tip #10:  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Don’t make PowerPoint your higher power. Allow PowerPoint to support you, and not the other way around.

When you use these strategies with PowerPoint, you’ll project your own unique power.  You’ll enhance your image as an expert and your listeners will quickly realize that they cannot afford to tune you out.    You’ll have them on the edge of their seats!

Be sure to receive all my upcoming video tips!  Follow this link to my YouTube channel and hit the “subscribe” button on the right side of the screen:

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Avoid “Death by Power Point” (How to Engage with Power Point; Part 2)

September 2nd, 2017


You’ve probably heard the phrase “death by Power Point”, but do you really know how to keep your business audiences alive and riveted to your message?

Today’s Videoblog is Part 2 of my Top Ten tips for using Power Point to “take stage”:  capture the attention of your business audiences and keep them engaged.  In Part 1, I talked about my first three tips for using Power Point seamlessly.  Here are tips 4-6:

Tip #4

When you give a presentation with PowerPoint, take the position of power; that’s usually front and center.  Whenever possible, let the projection screen be on your left or right, rather than behind you.  If the configuration of the room allows it, you should be in a more prominent position than the projection screen!

Tip #5

If you are the one who will be changing the slides, situate the laptop downstage of your body (that’s toward the audience) – and a bit to your left or right.  This allows you to maintain as much eye contact as possibly while you are using the keypad.  It also allows the audience to receive the fullest view of you.

Tip #6

Never read aloud from your slides.  Instead, pass your eyes over the slide briefly, to gather the content.  Then, turn to your audience and pause; pause to make genuine eye contact with your audience before you begin speaking.  The pause is very important; it helps ensure that you will take  the time to make good eye contact before and while you speak.

Include these strategies when you present with PowerPoint, so that you’ll be able to “take stage”:  capture the attention of your business audiences and keep them riveted to your message!


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How to Engage Business Audiences with Power Point (Part 1)

July 30th, 2017

How many times have you seen Power Point presentations that could put you to sleep?  You can be a business presenter who uses Power Point to your advantage:  to present with confidence, authenticity, and gravitas.

In this video, you will hear the first three of my Top Ten Tips for using Power Point seamlessly: so that you and your business message (not Power Point!) will take stage:  capture the attention of your business audiences and keep them engaged.

I always say:  Don’t make Power Point your Higher Power!  Remember that laptops and projection screens (no matter how you place them) create a degree of separation between you and your audience and make your talk less personal.  Unless these tools are managed seamlessly, they can steal focus from you and diminish your authority.

Here are three strategies to maintain speaker power with Power Point: 

#1.  Use the “Ten-Twenty-Thirty” Rule:  For every twenty minutes that you speak, have no more than ten slides, and be sure that any words that are written on the slides are printed at no smaller than thirty pitch.

#2:  Keep it simple!  Avoid swirling explosions of information and do not use sound effects.

#3:  Be savvy about the balance between your image slides and slides with words on them.  Your image slides should be the vast majority of the slides in your deck.  Slides with words should be minimal.  One point per slide is a good idea.  Limit yourself to five 5 bullets per slide and a maximum of 5 words per bullet point.  Remember that the”bulleted” material is simple phrases.  It’s your visual and vocal demeanor that will complete those phrases and make them come alive!

Apply these strategies, and you’ll be on your way to using Power Point seamlessly, so that YOU will “take stage”:  capture the attention of your business audiences and keep them engaged.



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How to Gesture Naturally (Take Stage! Part 2)

June 27th, 2017

When you make business presentations, would you like to gesture effectively, without worrying about your gestures when you rehearse?

In today’s blog, you will learn how to take the worry out of gesturing.  This is Part 2 in my series called “Take Stage to Engage Your Business Listeners”.

Clients sometimes tell me that they don’t know what to do with their hands when they speak for business, and that this adds to their nervousness.  Here are a few guidelines about gesturing and how you can “take stage” in a way that looks and feels natural.

  • Your hands and arms should be open and available for natural gestures – not in your pockets, clasped, or behind you.
  • Your hands should speak;  movements should match both your content and the energy in your voice.  And your gestures should come from the waist up, for a feeling of expansion and authority.
  • Use both hands to gesture whenever possible and put pens and pointers down when you’re not using them.

Most importantly, do not rehearse your gestures!  Allow your gestures to be the organic result of your focus on your listeners and their needs.

Some of my clients tell me that they rehearse in front of a mirror, to monitor their gestures.

Don’t do it!

Looking into a mirror trains you to focus on what you look like, rather than focusing on your listeners and what you want them to do or feel.  It puts you in the habit of being preoccupied with yourself.  And audiences always know when you’re preoccupied by yourself.  They interpret this as either egotism or a lack of confidence.

So, instead, when you rehearse, choose a spot or two on the wall to place your focus.  As you speak your content aloud, speak AS IF you were talking to a close friend.  This will help you “take stage” organically and authentically.  You will project confidence, a spirit of ease, and a true concern for your listeners and their needs.


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Grab/Keep the Attention of Your Business Audience: Take Stage (Part 1)

May 29th, 2017

Would you like to grab your business audience’s attention and keep them riveted to your presentations?  Do what actors do:  take stage!  Inhabit the space with a “do or die” purpose and an attitude of complete belonging.

Your physical demeanor speaks volumes about you, and your business audience is sizing you up before you even say a word.  Here are three basic strategies, to make your physical demeanor enhance your presence:

  • Whether you’re seated or standing, begin speaking with both feet planted firmly on the ground.  Imagine that your legs are tree trunks and your feet are roots extending deep into the ground.  This initial grounding helps you claim the space as your own and helps give weight to your subsequent movements.  It helps you project confidence and authority.
  • If you’re standing, stand away from furniture and resist any temptation to lean for support.  If someone offers you a podium, politely decline it, if you can.  Whenever possible, you want to eliminate any physical barriers that could come between you and your audience.  If you must use a podium, stand tall and don’t lean on it!
  • Whenever possible, give any handouts you may have after your presentation has ended, not before or during the presentation.  When you give people material to read during your talk, you are inviting them to focus on a piece of paper and inviting them to ignore you.  Giving your audience material to read also suggests the idea that they could just as effectively have read your content, and that they didn’t need to come hear you live and in person!

When you apply these strategies, you’ll be well on your way to taking stage; you will make your physical demeanor enhance your presence, and you will get buy-in faster.


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Elevator Speeches, Part 3: Distinguish Yourself & Get Remembered

March 26th, 2017


Would you like to deliver an elevator speech that sets you apart and helps you get remembered?  Your elevator speech can distinguish you when you apply the following three strategies.

1:  Create an element of suspense.
When you’re satisfied that you have addressed the basics in writing your elevator speech, 
add a bit of expense:  postpone telling your listeners how you do what you do.  You want you listeners to ask questions, so that a conversation will develop.  Your objective should be to intrigue your listeners, so add a bit of mystery.  Talk about the benefits you provide and don’t tell listeners how you do what you do, until they ask.

2:   Provide a short, memorable phrase that can be quoted about you.
Include a phrase that will be easy for your listeners to remember and repeat when they speak about you with others.  They themselves will be helping help you carry your message.  One way to do this is with alliteration:  repetition of an initial sound, usually in two or more words of a phrase.  If you listen to this VideoBlog, you’ll hear me do it.  I say that I work with leaders who want to develop power speaking:  to be more persuasive, productive, and profitable.  The repetition of the /p/ sound in the final phrase makes it easy to remember and easy to repeat.  Try this technique with your own content.

3:  View your elevator speech as a work in progress!
Crafting an effective elevator speech is a process.  This means that you should always be fine-tuning and editing, depending upon the responses you are getting from people.  Does your elevator speech motivate listeners to ask questions?  Does it generate conversation?  If not, you may need to revise.   And remember that, as your business grows and changes, you’ll want to continue fine-tuning your elevator speech, to remain current and effective. 

Follow these steps, and you will be well on your way to delivering an elevator speech that sets you apart, generates conversation, and helps you get remembered.


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Elevator Speeches: Demonstrate Your Ability to Solve Your Prospects’ Problems

February 27th, 2017

Does your elevator speech project your interest in your prospects and their needs?  Or does it project your interest in yourself?

During networking situations, your conversation partners may be wondering “What’s in this for me?”  Here are three basic steps to help you focus on what your prospects care about most – which should become what you care about most!

Step 1:

Identify the benefits that your products and services have for your listeners and their organizations.  It’s all about the benefits:

  1. Increasing profits
  2. Improving productivity
  3. Reducing the cost of doing business
  4. Enhancing their competitive edge

Mention the benefits that are of greatest interest to your listeners at that moment.

Step 2:

Edit your content to be as concise as possible – 30 seconds is a good length.  One way to hook listeners is to identify a problem that you can solve: a problem that makes them think,  “I have that problem, too, and I really want a solution!”

Step 3:

Use phrases that help you sound authentic and conversational:  language that is “mouth and ear friendly”:   easy for you to speak and easy for your listeners to hear and repeat.  Your elevator speech should be memorable.

To summarize:

  1. Focus on the benefits that your listeners care about most
  2. Mention a problem that you can solve: one that they want solved!
  3. Make it conversational, brief, and easy for listeners to repeat

Create an elevator speech that demonstrates your ability to address the needs of your prospects, and they will be interested!


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