Getting Presenters to Relax - Hey, Just Be Yourself

by John Pollard on May 6, 2009

At our Mediasite Linkedin group, there's a discussion going on around how to get presenters to relax in front of the camera. It's funny how sometimes the hardest parts of our jobs have nothing to do with the technology, isn't it?

There are a number of good suggestions from that discussion:

  • Have casual conversation with the presenter while in front of the camera before hand.
  • Have the presenter think of the camera as "a supportive friend."
  • Encourage the presenter to "tell the camera a story" (smiling, with good eye contact).

Another commenter encouraged their presenters to begin delivering the presentation "unnaturally slowly," with big pauses between words. He said that once they get through the first few slides, and get their breathing in order, they fall into the groove and things tend to go well. Still another recommended looking over pictures of students to remind the instructor who s/he is doing this for. (yes, I know that's grammatically incorrect.)

There was also a funny story in the discussion that involved alcohol, but I'll leave that for the group members. :-)

One thing I didn't see anyone mention is simply encouraging presenters, "hey - just be yourself."

Music Interest Group 09I was thinking about this a lot over the last few weeks.

Sonic Foundry encourages (and gives time for) employees to volunteer in our local schools. A number of us work with the Schools of Hope Tutoring Program at elementary and middle schools all over our communities. Beyond my reading tutoring, I was recently lucky enough to work with an extra group of kids at Stoner Prairie Elementary to help them write a song for their music "interest group." I wanted the kids to really get the idea that they should be comfortable just being themselves. Maybe you could play the chorus of their song for your presenters to get them to loosen up?

Appropriately enough, it's called "Be Yourself." Enjoy.


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Wow, great post! I'm doing this constantly with teachers turned administrators. I keep reminding them to relax and think back to a great classroom moment and work from that. My other tricks include comedy- lots and lots of laughter to get them out of the "stressed out mind set." It's been working for me and of course, "just be yourself, be natural" and yes it's okay to use your hands- I encourage it. I poke fun at my video...I'm the guy who does the weather man routine and while talking I'll point in the direction of my PowerPoint presentation...
There's always the story of the person who took 51 takes for a five minute video...that helps a bunch! I'm toying with the idea of cupcakes as incentives! Just displaying them near by... :)

See, mom/dad...all those years of theater did pay off! :)

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