More and more these days our business communication involves being on camera (think video conference calls, webinars and the like). All of us need to make sure we hone our on camera communication. I am very fortunate to have met Karin Reed who is an expert communication coach, former on air news anchor, and author of On-camera Coach. Karin has guest lectured in my Stanford GSB class and has lots of advice that can help all of us improve. Below, please find my three question interview with Karin.
Matt: What motivated you to write your book? What communication issues were you seeing or experiencing that provided your inspiration?
Karin: When I left the tv news business, I immediately started doing on-camera work in the corporate world. Often I would be hired as the professional spokesperson but the company would have one of their executives appear on camera alongside of me – expecting them to perform at the same level of skill as I did. I thought that was an unfair expectation. Speaking to a camera is not like speaking to a roomful of people you can actually see. It requires an entirely different skills set—one most people don’t innately possess. I saw a tremendous skills gap that was not being recognized or filled. I wrote my book to demystify communicating through the camera, so business professionals could leverage video for all its worth… and there’s no other medium that is as powerful as video for evoking emotion and inspiring action.
Matt: Your book provides many bits of useful advice and best practices. What two do you think are most critical to facilitating effective communication?
Karin: My first tip is at the core of what I teach. It’s essential that you understand the camera is the conduit to an audience of one. When you speak on camera, you are having a one on one conversation with your viewer. Many people may be watching it at the same time, but they all still feel like you are talking just to them. That mental mindset changes how you interact with the lens. It’s not like giving a speech on stage or even in front of a room. It’s more like having a conversation with a friend or colleague across the dinner table. Adjust your delivery accordingly.
The second tip: focus on the message you are conveying, not on being a perfectly polished performer. Appearing on camera can feel like an out of body experience. Suddenly, you don’t know what to do with your hands! But in normal conversation, we aren’t thinking about what gestures we are using. They just happen in correlation with what we are saying. Shift the focus away from your physical self and concentrate on delivering your message with conviction in your own authentic way. If you keep your body loose and think about the meaning behind the words, your gestures will happen naturally and be organic to your content.
Matt: What is one of the most surprising things you’ve come to learn about communication since your book came out?
Karin: What’s been remarkable to watch is the explosion of video in the workplace. There’s been a democratization of video production that puts a camera in everyone’s hands – literally. Those who can communicate well on camera will see their stock rise while others who aren’t as skilled may find it to be a career limiter. Not only are more and more companies using video chat and collaboration, but they’re also hiring via video. Today’s professionals cannot afford to be a lesser version of themselves simply because they lack the know-how required to feel confident and comfortable on camera. I hope my book can give them some specific tips and techniques on how to connect via video like a pro.
April 9, 2019