How to Look and Sound Genuine When Speaking to a Camera from All About Speaking Success

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"All emotion is involuntary when genuine."
Mark Twain

You may have noticed that video cameras are everywhere!

Nearly everyone has immediate access to a video recording device and they use it to document the important events of their life. There are also a bunch of voyeuristically naive people who live to “catch” a stranger’s “worst nightmare” and then post it on the internet hoping to achieve viral notoriety at someone else’s expense.

Knowing there is a potential for you to be caught off guard and have your integrity virally impugned is a pretty scary thing. The best defense is to always behave properly, act honestly and be genuine. I can’t guarantee you’ll be immune from the amateur paparazzi, but you just might not draw their attention.

Then there is the other side of the coin… the self-inflicted, self-orchestrated video that is painful to watch and does little to enhance one’s stature. There is a trend gaining ground that requires business owners, self-employed, and entrepreneurs to promote their products, services and personal brand on the internet and in social media through the use of video. When creating a video, you must be aware of two pivotal elements, 1) how you sound and 2) how you look.

Every person who approaches this process has two choices, 1) to do it well or 2) to do it at a low, casual level. If you’re considering making a video of yourself, the question you should be asking is, “What do I want people to remember most about the video I am making?”


I recently counseled a young man with incredible speaking talents regarding a series of videos he posted on his LinkedIn site. His passion for conveying life lessons and advice on leadership is amazing, but his videos, due to their overtly casual nature, did everything they could to distract from the core of his message. In one video he is talking to his smart phone while driving his car, breaking eye contact with the road several times to face the camera. As a viewer, I was unpleasantly watching, hoping I would not bear witness to a horrible accident. We all recognize that one of the current harbingers of calamity in our society is the distracted driver. We’d all like to do everything we can to eliminate this dangerous behavior. But, the distracted speaker? Honestly, if what you have to say is so darn important, show us some respect. Take the time to put your best effort forward in a thoughtful, clear and undistracted fashion.


I have worked with a number of my clients, past and present, facing the video dilemma with trepidation on the best way they can be “in control” of the process, remain genuine, and enjoy the final product in the end. From the outset, I stress upon them how important it is to understand that even the most casual touch still demands the best form of communication.

The best communication means with the least distractions or interferences. Try to imagine watching a TV show with lots of static or data drops. It makes for a very taxing experience. As a leader or spokesperson your goal is to create a video that is purged of all interferences, allowing your brand, message and personality to come through unfiltered and at its full impact potential. You can afford to do no less.

But how? Surely it is harder than it appears.


It’s been said that Steve Jobs would rehearse for 17 hours or more for one of Apple’s annual presentations. So, whether you’re thinking the process of looking and sounding genuine in front of a camera is hard or easy you’re right on both accounts. It all depends on how you approach the process. Begin by giving thought to the items below:

  • What topic and key points have you identified to talk about?
  • How much time have you devoted to thinking about what you want to say?
  • How much have you practiced responses to the questions you intend to answer?
  • How much practice have you had before a camera prior to your “real” recording opportunity?
  • Have you received candid feedback on your practice “performances”?

When you’ve considered all of these process questions your task will either be hard or easy depending on the degree of effort you have put forth. You get to choose which road you’d want to take.


Your ability to Look and Sound genuine can be achieved by exhibiting these three qualities of being genuine:

  • Controlling your energy
  • Commanding your content
  • Conveying your authenticity

Controlling your energy is a nonverbal skill.

Even high-powered CEO’s can do this poorly. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple paces so much, they have had split the screen with one camera following him and another on the Keynote slides. Unfortunately, his bad habit is now becoming systemic as more and more Apple presenters fall into this “style”.

There is nothing wrong with standing still and making your point. The more you move, the harder the audience finds it to be able to concentrate on what you are saying. Learn how to control your energy.

Being able to control your energy includes:

  • Taming your wild hands (hair touching, ear scratching, beard stroking, etc.) by having a plan for the use of purposeful and meaningful gestures.
  • Having a clear and unstrained voice that speaks at a controlled rate with solid volume and a pleasant pitch.
  • Limiting needless body movement including uncontrolled pacing.
  • Starting and ending with a smile or assuring face (if your delivering somber news).
  • Making solid eye contact and looking at the camera as you would a good friend.

Commanding your content is a verbal skill.

We’ve heard for years that “Content is King”. This is not something new to the digital age. What you say has, is and always be the most important part of any communication. When you ask a viewer to stop and pay attention to you, you’d better be as clear and swift to your point as you can be.

Try following these three simple content command rules:

  • Know what you want to say.
  • Know how you want to say it.
  • Know who is going to see and hear it.

Conveying your authenticity is a social skill.

Authenticity is not charisma. Charisma (a compelling attractiveness or charm) is a perceived quality.

Authenticity is an earned quality. It is acquired through a consistency of behavior that stands the tests of reliability and credibility.

Authenticity can be described as being legitimate, valid, dependable, trustworthy, accurate and truthful. Authentic leaders and speakers convey a sense of believability in how and what they say. In return their audiences place a higher level of their confidence in the products, brands, services and messages they represent.

A great deal of this authenticity comes from the level of self-esteem and self-confidence the speaker has in the content they share, the level of fluency they have on the topic, and the comfort they have speaking about it.


If you’re thinking about making a video to promote your brand, company or idea your goal is to be perceived as genuine. This means, don’t try to be anyone but yourself. Know what it is you want to say and how you want to say it. Think about the immortal nature of digital video and its lasting impact on you and your business. Don’t try to do it alone. Solicit the assistance of a colleague or coach to increase your effectiveness.

It truly is easy to look and sound genuine in front of a camera if you put the work in behind the scenes.

I am genuinely delighted to share these insights on How to Look and Sound Genuine in Front of a Camera. Please feel free to share this post with a friend or colleague. As always, I am grateful for your support as a reader of my blog and I welcome any comment on this post or suggestions you might have in the comments section below.

To Your Speaking Success.
The Speech Wiz