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June 19, 2012

In the Hot Seat

Jon in the "hot seat"The majority of video producers and crew people prefer to be behind the camera and cringe, if not actually complain loudly, if there is a need to be in front of the camera lens. Not that I’ve ever had a big desire to be on-camera, but this is one area that has never bothered me. I don’t mind being on-camera. I guess because my parents were both good about taking tons of photos growing up—having a little round piece of glass pointing at me doesn’t seem that weird.

I mention this because I recently was in the “hot seat”. As part of updating my website, it was decided that I needed to be on camera talking about Mixed Bag Media as well as myself, so clients new and old can really get a sense of who I am, and what Mixed Bag Media is all about. I agreed wholeheartedly. When the day came to actually shoot, it did seem strange picking out numerous outfits for potential wardrobe changes before leaving the house.

The crew arrived and set everything up. Courtenay and I went to work making last minute script changes. The clothing choices were made, the teleprompter was loaded and it was time to get in front of the camera. I was not nervous, so after a couple of run-throughs, the call to “Roll Cameras” was given and it was for real.

I did well right out of the gate, but after a couple of takes, it became very clear to me how things can unravel for the person in front of the camera. As the on-camera “talent” you start to analyze what you’re doing and therefore become less natural.  As you become less natural, you become more critical. And…as you become more critical, then it’s hard to read a teleprompter smoothly.  After beginning to sweat profusely and deciding to take a short break, I thought about the advice I give to others when producing/directing and that helped to get me back on track.

It’s all about remaining calm, knowing that you’re just talking about what you know already, and thinking about the person you’re speaking to. Some of the best advice I was given during DJ training at my college radio station was to just speak to one person.  Don’t think about the thousands of people listening; talk to your friend who wants to hear about this cool, new band you’re about to play.

Being on-camera is very similar. Talk to the camera as if you’re telling a friend about yourself, your company, or your non-profit initiative. If being interviewed, talk to the one person interviewing you and don’t pay attention to the lights, camera and other stuff around you. All those things are just tools—they have no bearing on what you say.  Relax, be yourself, and say what you want to say.

Now, after having done this, I can honestly say that I know what it’s like to be on that side of the camera. While different, it doesn’t have to be hard. I’ll help get you through it. Let me know how I did.

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