How can you talk to a camera and make it seem real? from Actors Centre tutor Kathryn Wolfe
You’re used to talking to a crowd, giving presentations – no problem. Acting for the camera, sorted. Now you’re staring at your camera, wishing you had not accepted that agent’s request to self-tape a TV presenting audition. ‘Just look into the camera’, said the blurb, ‘and talk about yourself for 2 minutes’. Hang on, did they say ‘look into the camera’? Your TV drama training was, ‘never look directly at the lens’. Your panic is beginning to mount, ‘this is feeling weird. My face has frozen. What am I going to talk about? What’s my character? And where’s the script!’
Talking to a camera is a learned skill, and here are some tips to help you on your way.
Imagine the camera is a person. The TV presenters’ role is to connect with the viewer through the lens, so imagine talking to someone real and your performance will be sincere.
Who should you imagine? It can be your best friend, your mum, or a typical viewer. If you’re presenting a shopping channel imagine a buyer, if you’re presenting pre-school TV imagine a four year old on the sofa.
How do we watch TV? Usually on our own, or with another person, so present to one or two people max. Even if hundreds, thousands or millions are watching your video, they are in their own space, not all crowded into one room. Make it personal and the viewer will relate to you, they will think you are talking to them individually and you will create a bond through the camera.
The same goes for radio. We listen in the bathroom, in the car, doing the ironing or through headphones. Speak to one listener. Some radio presenters place a photo of their partner or family by the mic to help them talk to one person they have in mind.
The language you use is key. If you’re presenting a live stage event you might say, ‘Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen’.
If you’re in a panto, ‘Hello girls and boys’, or ‘Hello everybody’.
For TV talk to the individual, ‘Hello and welcome to the show. It’s great to be with you again and I’ve got a fantastic line up of guests for you to enjoy this afternoon.”
Connect with the camera so the viewer can connect with you.
Kathryn Wolfe regularly teaches at the Actors Centre.
Visit: https://www.actorscentre.co.uk/workshops to view our workshops.
So You Want to be a TV Presenter? Nick Hern Books 2010
The TV Presenter’s Career Handbook, Focal Press 2014