Public Speaking Training:
Tips for Television, Videotape, and Videoconferencing
Here are some tips from public speaking training for when you will be having
your presentation on TV or videotaped.
TELEVISION & VIDEOTAPE TIPS
- Avoid clothing with large patterns or geometric shapes. The audience will
watch your clothes instead of you.
- Gestures should be smaller than you would normally use.
- Make sure clothing is "broken in" and comfortable when you are
sitting and standing.
- Prior to your performance, have instant photos or video taken of you while
sitting and standing. Make sure your clothes look good in both positions.
- Avoid wearing black, white, or red on television or video. Even the best
of cameras have trouble with these colors.
- Avoid flashy jewelry. It reflects light.
- Avoid jangly jewelry. It reflects light and makes noise that will be
picked up by your microphone (this applies whether you are on TV or not).
- Wear makeup. It has the practical purpose of reducing the glare of TV
- Apply makeup to all exposed body parts, like backs of hands, arms, and
especially the neck with head and neck shots.
- Apply cover-up below eyes to mask bags and/or wrinkles.
- Good studios are kept cool to negate the effect of the hot TV lights. You
may freeze for a while until the lights are turned on, then you may burn up.
Dress for the heat, but bring a jacket or extra cover-up to be used while
you are waiting to go on.
- Bring a handkerchief or tissues to dab perspiration during breaks.
- Don't second guess the camera. Act as if you are always on screen.
- Make sure your makeup, wardrobe, and hair are consistent with your
- Wear your eyeglasses if you want, but avoid shiny frames.
- Tip the bows of your eyeglasses up slightly off your ears. This angles the
lenses down to reduce glare from lights.
- Find out the background color of the set if possible. You don't want your
clothing to blend in and make you invisible.
- Ask the producer for wardrobe color suggestions.
- Do not wear any clothing with tight patterns or pin stripes. This causes
an optical illusion called a moiré pattern which makes you look bad.
- Wear knee-length socks.
- Wear makeup.
- Always keep double breasted jackets buttoned.
- Single breasted jackets can be opened, but not too wide.
I WILL SAY AGAIN, Wear Makeup. TV lights can penetrate several layers of
skin. You can't possibly shave close enough to prevent whiskers from showing
Don't forget to use makeup on receding hairlines or bald heads too.
Don't forget the tie trick.
- Don't wear vivid red lipstick or lip gloss. Stick to softer tones and dab
lips with a little powder.
- Consider dress shields if you perspire easily.
- Make sure your hair will stay where you want it. You don't want to be
fooling with it while on the air.
- Make sure a lavaliere or lapel microphone and transmitter can be attached
to your clothing.
Lillian Brown has written the best resource I know of on the topic of
appearing on television. It's called 'Your Public Best: The Complete Guide to
Making Successful Public Appearances in the Meeting Room, on the Platform and on
TV' (Newmarket Press: New York 1989).
- If possible before the videoconference, send participants handouts, copies
of agenda, and copies of visuals.
- Try to get someone else to operate the camera and other equipment. Have
them shoot close up if possible. With more than one presenter, if you leave
the camera on wide angle, the viewers will have trouble picking out who is
- Periodically ask for feedback from the remote sites. Your chances for
misunderstanding increase when communicating electronically.
- Remember assume you are always on camera. Use the mute button for your
microphone if you must converse off the main program.
Remember from your public speaking training, both on stage and on television or
video, there are many issues you must consider and control to do the best