7 tips for speaking 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 camera? 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

  1. Start with a strong story
  2. Gesture well and smile
  3. Share your clear structure
  4. Provide true insights
  5. Use a helpful simile (or metaphor)
  6. Focus on next steps
  7. At the end, sum up

Dubious features of the video


Tips you might learn from the video

1. 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’s so short (just 1 syllable), which keeps it conversational. So it hooks you far more than if he’d used longer, more formal words, like these:

“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 one 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!


2. Gesture well and smileScroll to Contents ↑

From the video’s very 1st frame, Charlie smiles, and gestures with open hands (which comes across as trustworthiness). So he seems friendly and engaging.

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

When he counts, you might’ve also noticed that Charlie sometimes uses an unusual but helpful technique. Namely, he grasps 1 or more fingers, like in this short clip (from 7:22).

30-second clip only:

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).


3. Share your clear structureScroll to Contents ↑

The video presents 4 main points, which are clearly signposted in 3 ways:

  • He says “1st…   2nd…   3rd…   4th…” to start each point.
  • He holds up the corresponding number of fingers.
  • Each time, an on-screen caption also echoes the current point.

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


4. 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”

For another technique Charlie uses to share insights, also see the next section.


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

In the video above, a 2nd 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…”

A metaphor… bridges the gap between what people already accept and what you share that’s new to them

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.

What’s more, as metaphors often mention real-world objects (like puzzle pieces here, or bookends when referring to a talk’s start and end), they help people picture the idea being explained.

I haven’t yet got used to using metaphors, but I’d definitely like to get much better at this technique.


6. 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


7. At the end, sum upScroll to Contents ↑

It’s important to sum up at the end of a talk. That’s especially true for Charlie’s 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 transcript into Microsoft 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!)

On the other hand, speaking quickly can convey infectious passion for your topic. That is, provided you pause often, to let listeners catch up. And in the video above, Charlie does pause slightly at times – though, sadly, not long enough to help 😦


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.


More networking tips

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 (like me). You can read a 20-page excerpt from the book online.


Also check out


4 thoughts on “7 tips for speaking on camera – review of a @CharismaOn video

  1. Great video critique here – your point about sub-points was especially on point (pun intended!)

    If a speaker goes “First…Second…One…Two” that can be quite confusing because it feels like waffling between two different timelines. Using “2a, 2b, 2c, etc.” can also be confusing because the viewer now has to keep track of multiple threads/sub-threads.

    The best way to keep the viewer aware of the structure and comfortable with following along is by keeping the numbering system consistent, organic, and singular.


    • Thanks Christopher!

      Must say, in my own talks, I too have to guard against a tendency to be overly structured. For instance, if talking about presentation skills, I’d need to simplify the “FiRST framework” from the 2-level outline of it that’s used on my blog. (See menu bar at top of this page.)

      As you say, when audiences listen to a talk, they can’t absorb as detailed a structure as when they read content (at their own pace).

      So of course, there’s a very good reason the old “Rule of 3” is used so widely in talks. And in fact, more lately, I’ve tended to use a variation you could call the “Rule of 3 Risers”. That is, not only simplifying the content into just 3 steps, but also arranging them from easiest to hardest, which makes it easier for the audience to get started (and accepts that people will already be at varying skill levels).


  2. 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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