Tips for speaking well on camera – review of a @CharismaOn video

Seeing the faults in my own videos gave me a new apprecia-tion for the craft

Have you ever spoken on video? I just finished a 30-day challenge of posting 1 new video every day on LinkedIn (as organised by Karen Moloney). Seeing the faults in my own videos gave me a new appreciation for the craft of speaking on camera!

Previously, I’d come across a great YouTube channel called Charisma on Command, presented by Charlie Houpert. His channel offers fantastic tips and insights about talking to people 1-on-1 (or in groups), and he’s very charismatic himself.

So I thought it’d be useful to review one of Charlie’s videos, as there’s a lot I can learn from him – and I hope you can too.

Before you read on, why not watch the 8-minute video I chose to review? While you watch, you might even like to jot down a few notes about what you think are the video’s stronger and weaker aspects, so you can then compare your notes with mine


Listed below are the points I’ll review. If you’d like to jump to a specific point, you can click any item in the list:
 

Tips you might learn from the video

Dubious features of the video

 

Tips you might learn from the video

Start with a strong storyScroll to Contents ↑

In just the first 10 words, the video hooks you with an intriguing opening line:

“So last week I kind of had my mind blown”

Did that make you wonder what blew his mind? It made me wonder, for sure.

Notice too how each word is so short (just 1 syllable), which keeps it conversational. So it’s more engaging than if he’d used longer, more formal words.

As such, it hooks you far more than if he’d started with a bland line, like this one:

“Last Wednesday I attended an interesting conference”

Charlie’s opening line also hints at how he feels about what happened. In other words, there’s an emotional element, which is appealing. Plus, he’s even being a little vulnerable by implying he learnt a lot – meaning he’d had a lot to learn!

Charlie goes on to say he learnt more about networking, at just 1 event, than in his whole life up to that point. And he reveals his own surprise at having learnt it from just 1 person – and an introvert at that.

So the scene is set that you too can learn some surprising and perhaps even life-changing tips from Charlie’s video. What a great way to open!

 

Gesture well and smileScroll to Contents ↑

Literally right from the video’s 1st frame, Charlie smiles, and gestures with open hands (which people tend to treat as being trustworthy). So he comes across as friendly and engaging.

I really liked that he uses big, open gestures, and that he’d framed the shot so you can see those gestures, too. Also, he’s standing, which lets him gesture more freely than if he was sitting down.

You might’ve also noticed that Charlie sometimes uses an unusual but helpful technique when he counts. Namely, he grasps 1 or more fingers, such as at 7:22 in the video. To me, that looks more natural than just raising his fingers (as most speakers do), which he does earlier in the video (like at 0:53).

 

Share your clear structureScroll to Contents ↑

The video presents 4 main points, which are clearly signposted in 2 ways:

  • He says “first… second… third… fourth…” to start each point.
  • Each time, an on-screen caption echoes the current point.

What a simple yet potent way to share the structure. And structure is one of the key factors in making your message:

  • Clear
  • Compelling
  • Shareable

 

Provide true insightsScroll to Contents ↑

How would you define an insight? I like to think of them as new and useful ways to think about things you already have an opinion on.

When you share insights, you help your audience conquer mental blocks (or unhelpful patterns of thought or behaviour) that’ve stopped them reaching their goals.

A prime example of an insight is Charlie’s 1st point, which he sets up like this:

“Redefine what networking means to you” (0:55)

Crucially, he then spells out exactly how you can do that (2:08):

“Stop going to networking events.
Start going to things where there’s
something else going on, but you still
have an opportunity to meet people.”

 

Use a helpful simile (or metaphor)Scroll to Contents ↑

Another way Charlie shares helpful insights is through a simile – a type of metaphor – when he says we’re like puzzles.

By likening your personal network to a jigsaw puzzle, he helps you see your network in a new light – and to behave in a new way (5:47):

“We’re like puzzles – we’re a simple puzzle piece,
and we only want the pieces that snap right into us.
But what Evan does is he connects other puzzle pieces…”

When you present, a metaphor’s highly effective at planting your message in your listeners’ minds. That’s because it bridges the gap between what people already accept and what you share that’s new to them.

I haven’t yet got used to using metaphors, so this is definitely a technique I’d like to adopt.

 

Focus on next stepsScroll to Contents ↑

The video’s highly focused on calling people to action, through its 4 main points. Each point’s a concrete step that viewers can act on:

  1. Redefine networking (0:55)
  2. Make it easy for people to speak to you (2:21)
  3. Get people talking about what they want (3:36)
  4. Play matchmaker (5:04)

What’s more, the speaker recaps at the end to reinforce what he wants you to do – as I discuss in the next section

 

At the end, sum upScroll to Contents ↑

It’s important to sum up at the end of a talk. That’s especially true for this video because:

  • It’s quite long – about 8 minutes.
  • The speaker shares lots of details (by talking very fast, as I discuss in the section below), so if he didn’t recap, people might forget his main points.

Sure enough, the speaker succinctly recaps his 4 main points near the end (7:20), in only about 30 seconds. And again, he numbers his points to make them crystal clear.

 

Dubious features of the video

Speaks quicklyScroll to Contents ↑

What do you think of how fast the speaker talks? I feel he speaks very fast, which makes his message a bit harder to absorb – especially if your 1st language isn’t English.

To measure exactly how fast he speaks, I copied the video’s transcript to Word. It turns out he says a little over 1900 words in 8 minutes 20 seconds, which equates to about 230 words per minute.

For comparison, that’s over 20% faster than even the fastest of 9 TED talks that were analysed on the Six Minutes website. (The fastest of those is 188 wpm. The slowest is 133 wpm, and Charlie’s video is over 70% faster than that!)

But, on the other hand, speaking quickly does convey infectious passion for his message. And in the video above, Charlie also pauses slightly from time to time, which helps listeners catch up.

 

Includes lots of sub-pointsScroll to Contents ↑

Although the video’s main points are laid out clearly, there are lots of other points too, which I found a bit confusing.

For instance, there are 2 other pairs of numbered points, where Charlie says (6:16):

“First off, go to meetup.com…
Second, go through and make a list…
One, you don’t always know…
But two, there’s some obvious connections…”

And that’s made worse by the fact that he subdivides his 2nd main point as “part 2a” (3:23).

So although he does a good job of labelling all his points (with numbers), from a listener’s viewpoint, there’s lots to take in and make sense of.

 

Your turnScroll to Contents ↑

On balance then, to me, there are 7 really strong aspects of the video, and just a couple of dubious ones.

What do you think of the video? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.

By the way, would you like more great networking tips? I highly recommend the funny and engaging book by Devora Zack on the subject – especially (but not necessarily) if you’re an introvert. You can read a 20-page excerpt from the book online.

 

Also check out

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2 thoughts on “Tips for speaking well on camera – review of a @CharismaOn video

  1. Great observations. One thing I noticed that when he raised his fingers earlier in the video, for points 2, 3 and 4, he gestured the number with the back of his hand, which looks more conversational than gesturing the numbers with the palm forward.

    • Welcome to the blog, Diane, and thanks for your comment. That’s a good point about gesturing more naturally when counting, which I’d not considered. It sounds like another good reason to video each rehearsal, so you can see how each gesture comes across.

      My next post (which I’ll publish at the end of the month) is about speaking conversationally, so I hope you’ll check it out.

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