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On camera, or on Mic, don’t over-produce your subjects

02 Mar

I am never comfortable whenever someone freezes that smile or his head angle for a picture I am about to take. It’s become the done thing to strike a pose. Not sure where this comes from, but I get the feeling it’s got something to do with a celebrity culture –and perhaps the media uproar when someone is caught looking less photo-ready.

I’ve also worked with PR people and know there is a solid reason to make sure the room is set up well so that the Big Guy (or Gal) acts natural. Controlling clothing, lighting, messing with hands or tapping on a table etc. There’s a good post about this by Paula Lovell, with a related discussion worth following at a LinkedIn group.

Gerard Braud is a pro at this and I’ve even sat in one of his media training workshops some years back at an IABC conference. He knows what he’s talking, so if you do have a client or am planing to put someone on camera, this is a great place to start.

But I have some comments about looking too ‘produced’. It’s not what the pros may say, but think about this:

  • Why should a CEO or thought leader always look like he/she never makes mistakes, and is flawless? Given the big push for transparency in communications in general, business and government in particular, wouldn’t the target audience prefer to see someone who looks slightly more human than studio settings permit?
  • A videographer or photographer could over-prepare a subject. Isaac Pigott makes a good point that the confidence from being who you are trumps all other external factors. That’s why teleprompters are scorned so much, today.

I my new profession, Education, I also teach children to present ideas and ignore the technology as much as they could. Yes I use cameras – video and DSL. I also put them in front of a microphone –corded and a ZoomH4N. It is possible to train them too much; it is also possible to let them come up with the most amazing things, unscripted, warts and all. I know what you may be thinking. They don’t have stakeholders to convince.

It’s a long shot from a CEO interview or podcast that I used to do until recently, but I’ve found some striking similarities in making them come off ‘as they are’ not as we want them to be.

If you are an educator, I write about these education issues at Voices-On.com

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