Join Rick Allen Lippert for an in-depth discussion in this video Practicing comfortable posture and stance, part of On Camera: Develop Your Video Presence.
Let's start by talking about how you present yourself on camera, starting with posture. Remember when you were a child, and you were told to sit up straight, and to not slump? Well, that advice is never more appropriate than when you are on camera. It's just not a good look when you slump. Sure, it's important to be relaxed, but you shouldn't look like you don't know any better, or worse yet, don't care how you look. And this holds true whether you're an interviewee or a presenter. Sometimes you'll be standing, sometimes you'll be sitting.
Let's start by sitting in a chair. Most of the time it's best to sit on the edge of the seat, this will help you to sit up straight. Leaning back creates a crushed look. Your cloths won't look good, and I think it also conveys an attitude of apathy, and maybe even arrogance. This is even more important when you're sitting in a cushioned, or overstuffed, or oversized chair. While it's important to be comfortable when you're on camera, it's easy to get swallowed up by a big chair.
So keep your back straight, and scoot a little forward in the seat. Don't let any part of your back rest against the back of the chair. If you're in a swivel chair like when you might find at a desk, make an even extra effort to sit still. Don't swivel or rock back, it's very distracting to the audience. But don't lean so far forward that your elbows are on the desk, unless of course you need to do so for emphasis. (video playing) If you're presenting information, chances are that the majority of your on camera work will be standing, and maybe even walking.
Here again, you want to keep your back straight, shoulders back, and tighten your stomach muscles. Imagine a string tied to your tailbone pulling you up through your head, this will help you roll your hips forward, which will help you from arching your back too much. A great trick to looking good on video is to angle yourself to the camera. It doesn't take much, try to avoid standing square to it. Often when people get nervous, they shift their weight from one foot to the other. This creates a swaying motion that just looks bad.
So angle yourself and position your feet in a T-stance. Put one foot pointing toward the camera with the other one a few inches behind in perpendicular to the front one. Lead with whichever foot is more comfortable to use, or more compatible with whatever might be next to you. I do this whenever I'm talking to the camera, or being interviewed by someone, because I know that everyone looks better at a slight angle. Now when you get nervous and start shifting your weight from foot to foot, it's not as noticeable to the camera, because the movement is on the same z-axis, as opposed to being on the x-axis.
And when it comes to how you hold your head, contrary to what we often do in person, to convey confidence, don't lead with your chin up. On camera it looks arrogant. You want to till your chin down slightly. This forces your eyes open and the audience can see deeper into your soul. You'll also want to minimize hand gestures and rapid movement. This doesn't mean that you can't use your hands, just make the movements count. We have much more information about movement in a separate movie, but for now, this will get you started.
Just remember to sit up or stand straight and angle yourself to the camera.