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How I Learned to Lead through a Camera Lens

5 suggestions that can make you a better speaker in front of the camera—from someone who runs a daily LIVE talk show

Talking through a camera lens is difficult for most people. Leading a distributed workforce of people through a camera lens is harder.

I’ve been doing for both for 20 years.

Now I’m sharing what I’ve learned from building a virtual company and talking to people through a camera lens for the past two decades.

Why? Because human connection is more important than ever.

The best way to establish that connection, especially if you’re building a personal brand, is through video—through you engaging with a camera.

But you have to know a few things to do if effectively.

I know what it takes.

First, lemme give you some background.


By the time the pandemic hit in 2019, I had already been running a virtual company with a distributed global workforce for 10 years.

When the world became disrupted and it had to learn how to work remotely, we simply continued our work.

We weren’t disrupted.

In fact, we grew.

While the world scurried to learn how to do video meetings the right way, about virtual meeting etiquette, we had normal days. We had already perfected the art, and we had a decade’s head-start.

We were teaching the classes.

Working remotely, communicating remotely and speaking to humans using a camera, either 1-on-1 or in a group meeting, is how I built my company into a $30MM per year business.

99% of my work, communication, and relationship building happened through a camera lens. It was rare for us to get business done in-person.

  • I know how to communicate through a camera lens effectively.

  • I know how to inspire people through a camera lens.

  • I know how to build relationships through a camera lens.

  • I know how to get results through a camera lens.

You know what we like to say here in Lab…

We make suggestions; you make decisions.

Here’s how you can become a better on-camera speaker.

1) Listen more. Speak less.

Wait a minute, Keith… I thought this was about becoming a better on camera speaker.

Now you’re telling me to listen more.

Yes.

I learned the more I listened to the human on the other side of the camera, and the less I focused on the work, the more effective, inspired, and committed that human became.

💡 What my colleague wanted was my time. My ears. My attention. And my words. If I could use the camera to give them all four, the better they bought in to what I said the next time they saw me speaking on camera.

I would ask questions and then sit back and listen.

I didn’t care if the entire conversation revolved around my colleague.

Why?

Because I had the viewer’s attention. We were engaged.

If they saw me looking at them while they spoke, I showed them I cared. And I knew when it was my turn to speak, they’d care too. It made us both better on-camera communicators.

We’re always taught to look into the camera when we speak.
But it’s even more important to do it when you’re listening.

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2) Always speak to one person

When you’re broadcasting and speaking to an audience, always imagine you’re speaking to just one person.

💡 Speak to that one person as if they’re right there, sitting across the table from you.

💡 Use the same energy and tone of voice you would when speaking to a friend or colleague in-person.

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3) Turn up the volume

You’re on camera. Period.

Think about it.

The person on the other end is watching you and wants you to entertain them while you inform them. If you’re going to be monotone and quiet, your audience will be too.

You’ll have a bored, disengaged audience. Then you may just as well have no audience at all.

💡 Let me tell you a little secret…

It’s ok to play and be an exaggerated version of yourself. You do it so your audience can see you, hear you, and feel your energy. Not a fake version of yourself—but an exaggerated one.

Speak a little louder.

Up your enthusiasm.

And have fun while you’re at it.

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4) Pause. Often.

The more you pause the more you listen to yourself and what you want to say next.

Pause instead of saying “Um…”

Pause before you ask a question.

Pause in the middle of your next question.

Pause before you speak.

When you pause, you’re present. When you’re present, you listen.
When you listen, your audience is engaged.

The pause is your best friend. Don’t be afraid to use it.

💡 In a future post, I’ll get into the Pause, Stutter, Pause, Hang Method of engaging your listener.

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5) Teleprompters are ok

I rarely use teleprompters today, but I have used them before—and I encourage you to try it.

Here’s why:

It works. Easy as that.

There is no quicker way to look at the camera and speak effectively when starting out.

My go-to is Teleprompter Pro. It’s a cross-device app and is perfect for when I need to be perfect with what I want to say.

Teleprompters don’t always have to be verbatim machine’s. You can use yours for talking points to keep you going.

💡 Without listening, speaking to one person, turning up the volume, and pausing, using a teleprompter only makes you an effective reader in front of the camera—but not a better on-camera speaker.

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I hope these recommendations are helpful to you in your quest to become a better on camera speaker. You know I value feedback, so let me know what you think.

From the Chief of the Business Athlete Performance Lab,

Thanks for reading.

kB

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