Tips for On-camera Presenters
The hope is that these tips will serve as a guide on effective preparation
and presentation practices for the novice on-camera presenters and as a
reminder for seasoned presenters—whether the camera is in an
electronic classroom or broadcast room or a video conferencing
environment. The tips below are divided, rather loosely, into the following categories:
- When there are multiple cameras available (such as a local and a
remote), make certain you know which camera is sending a signal to the
remote audience and which camera is sending a signal to your local site.
If you are not sure, ask the local support provider for your site prior to
- Video broadcasts are scheduled to begin and end at exact times in
order to maintain the busy broadcast schedule. Some systems come on for
testing approximately 10 minutes before the scheduled presentation time
and most systems shut off without warning when the broadcast time is
- Due to the exact timing of the broadcasts, you should rehearse your
presentation carefully in order to complete it before being cut off.
- You may find it helpful to designate someone at your location as your
timekeeper. This individual could then signal you when you are nearing the
end of your scheduled broadcast time.
- Because habits such as continually clearing your throat, saying "um"
or "uh," or nervous giggling or shuffling are enhanced on-camera, you may
want to rehearse by videotaping your presentation and reviewing it prior
to your on-camera presentation.
- Because the cameras and microphones will pick up any extraneous noise,
do not play with change or keys in your pocket, drum your fingers on the
table, or shuffle papers during the broadcast.
- When using systems where the cameras automatically change to the
last site (or person) to make a noise, it will help for you to alleviate
some of the camera refocusing during the presentation by defining
camera pre-sets to "lock in" camera shots on specific speakers or groups
of participants. Pre-sets can be established before the presentation, then
during the presentation simply choose the pre-set you wish the camera to
- If you are unfamiliar with video systems, you should send contact your
local support provider to arrange a time to rehearse your presentation and
get comfortable with the system.
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- Create documents with a landscape orientation (wider than tall).
- Try to create all your visuals the same size so that you can pre-focus
the document camera before the presentation.
- Use large lettering (no less than 36 pt. type; greater if the receiving
site may have more than 6 participants) on visuals and a sans serif font
(Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, or Geneva).
- Use no more than two different fonts in your presentation visuals.
- Use italicized text sparingly, if at all, since it can be more difficult
- Place no more than four lines per page, six words per line on
documents, centered vertically on the page to allow ample margins.
- Leave at least 1 1/2" margins and allow white space between lines of
- Light blue paper with black, bold text reduces glare from the lights
and still provides high contrast for easier viewing.
- Create documents with high contrast between paper and text. The standard
black text on white paper is still extremely effective.
- Keep the background on documents a solid color without gradients or
- If you want to use color for emphasis, bright yellow (think of the
color that children color sunshine!) on "true" blue works very well.
- Avoid combinations of low contrast colors. For example, blue on green,
orange on yellow.
- Avoid red-green color combinations for the benefit of those who are
- In general, avoid using red because that tends to "bleed,"
leaving text not looking clear.
- Keep in mind that monitor quality varies from site to site. Test color
combinations at different color settings during development to ensure that all
of your audience will see an effective visual.
- Thin lines can appear to waiver on-camera. If you use lines in your
visuals, make sure they are at least 3 points or wider.
- Avoid displaying complex or dense diagrams on the document camera.
If a complex diagram is essential, consider mailing or faxing it to
each remote site so they can review a hard copy.
- When possible, provide a hard copy (faxed or mailed) of the agenda to
each viewing location prior to the presentation.
- If you send handouts to the viewing locations before the presentation,
make sure that each handout is arranged in the order of presentation so that
your audience can take notes and follow along.
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- The best colors to wear are moderate hued blues, greens, and purples.
- Avoid wearing black (very harsh under the camera), white (glares), and
red ("bleeds") clothing.
- Colors appear darker than they really are, so navy blue, for example,
will look black on-camera.
- Avoid wearing clothing with plaids, checks, and bold prints.
- Avoid jewelry that catches the glare of the lights and may reflect light,
or may cause noise that the cameras may pick up.
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- Conduct a "roll call" at the beginning of the broadcast so that
everyone knows what sites are participating.
- If the presentation is being hosted, provide a short biography so that
you can be introduced before your presentation.
- In order to maintain "eye contact" with your audience, look into the
sending camera as well as occasionally making eye contact with the
audience in the room with you.
- Encourage participants to preface remarks with identification such as
"This is Cindy from Indianapolis…"
- When possible, focus the camera on the person speaking.
- To engage your audience when they are scattered among several locations,
plan to poll each site, by name, at various times during your presentation for
questions or comments in order to engage the audience at that site (most won't
feel comfortable interrupting otherwise).
- Consider "planting" some questions at each site in order to start the
- Always repeat the question or summarize a comment for the benefit of
participants who may not have heard the comment.
- Allow sufficient time for responses from the various sites; it may take a
moment for a participant at another site to get off mute and begin
speaking when she/he wants to ask a question or make a comment.
- Be assertive in not allowing a member of your audience to dominate the
- Be assertive in summarizing a particular segment and moving on in order
to keep on schedule.
- Remember to not ignore the live audience in the room with you because
you're trying to be aware of the audience at other viewing sites.
- Try to build in time for a short question-and-answer session at the end of
each module in your presentation.
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Delivering the Presentation
- If you plan to use a computer during your presentation, make sure that
the technical support as well as the room scheduling personnel are
aware of that need. Be prepared to tell them whether you require a Mac or
a PC, what software, including version, that you will be using, and
whether you need a computer ordered from AV for you or if you are bringing
a laptop. Also, let them know if you require an Internet connection.
- Broadcast rooms are often equipped with microphones to pick up audio
signals. Some rooms have ceiling mounted microphones; others have
microphones on the tables. You should decide before the broadcast whether
you will stand or sit during your presentation. In rooms equipped with
table microphones, if you decide to deliver your presentation standing,
you may need to wear a lapel microphone in order to have the sound of your
voice picked up by the system. In rooms equipped with ceiling
microphones, you may need to project your voice upward in order for the
sound of your voice to be adequately broadcast.
- Place a "title" sheet on the document camera identifying your
presentation and location before the beginning of the presentation. When
each site comes on-air, your site will be identified to them.
- Allow a couple of minutes at the very beginning of the broadcast for a
"settling in" period to get participants seated and "on-air" before
beginning your presentation, but don't hesitate to call the "meeting to
order" with the audience you have or you won't finish during the allotted
- Be sure you introduce yourself.
- Provide an agenda on the document camera at the beginning of the
presentation that includes the broadcast time. This lets each member of the
audience be aware of the focus of the presentation and the amount of time
- If you take a break during your presentation, place a note on the
document camera that says, "Break. Back at … " If you hand-write the
note, make sure it is in dark ink, large letters, and legible handwriting.
- Many video cameras are activated by sound; be careful to keep your
site on mute when you are not speaking.
- Remind your audience that each site should keep their site on mute when
someone at that site is not speaking; otherwise, the site making the noise
will become the sending site and you will see the cameras "jump" to that
- Remind your audience that when their site is on mute, they must turn mute
off before asking a question or making a comment.
- Speak with a well-modulated voice and enunciate clearly.
- If an assistant is available, you will find it easier to deliver your
presentation and let the assistant operate any document cameras and
- Be careful of leaving the same image on the monitor for long periods of
time. Vary the image on the monitor by allowing (or requiring) participation
from each site, by using the document camera, and by using various camera
- When you continue to speak as you are displaying something on the
document camera, you become a disembodied voice. Keep the camera focused
on the document camera only as long as necessary, then come back on
- Remain aware of the time remaining in your presentation. You may find it
helpful to enlist the assistance of a participant at your location, who
can give you a sign at the 15-, 10-, and 5-minute marks.
- You should begin "winding down" a few minutes before the scheduled
ending time. Use this time to summarize the presentation's key points and
make sure the audience knows how to contact you for further information or
- If you plan to use a computer with an Internet connection during your
presentation, be aware that networks sometimes slow down. You may need to make
allowances during your presentation, deciding what to forego or change in order
to complete the presentation in the allotted time.
- Have your presentation files available on disk or on overhead
transparencies in the event that the network goes down.
- Build in extra time during the presentation to manipulate the mouse and
recover from technical glitches.
- If you plan to use the Internet, you may find it helpful to have saved
key document files on your local workstation and view them as local files,
rather than via a live connection.
- Be aware that transmission noise may come across the system during your
presentation; don't let it distract you.
- If you have requested that your presentation be recorded, remember
that even if your location is on mute and the other sites can not
hear you, any noise or conversation at your location WILL be recorded on
- Remember that viewing a video presentation is not the same as watching
TV. Keep in mind that when a participant from another site is speaking,
the camera may well still be on you. Looking inattentive, bored or
otherwise uninterested will reflect poorly on you and be displayed clearly
across all the viewing sites.
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