Public Speaking:
Tips for Television, Videotape,
and Videoconferencing

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Here are some things you should keep in mind when a television camera is trained on you:


  • Gestures should be smaller.

  • Make sure clothing is "broken in" and comfortable when you are sitting and standing.

  • Prior to your performance, have instant photos or video taken of you while sitting and standing. Make sure your clothes look good in both positions.

  • Find out the background color of the set if possible. You don't want your clothing to blend in and make you invisible.

  • Ask the producer for wardrobe color suggestions.

  • Do not wear any clothing with tight patterns or pin stripes. This causes an optical illusion called a moiré pattern which makes you look bad.

  • Avoid clothing with large patterns or geometric shapes. The audience will watch your clothes instead of you.

  • Avoid wearing black, white, or red on television or video. Even the best of cameras have trouble with these colors.

  • Avoid flashy jewelry. It reflects light.

  • Avoid jangly jewelry. It reflects light and makes noise that will be picked up by your microphone (this applies whether you are on TV or not).

  • Wear your eyeglasses if you want, but avoid shiny frames.

  • Tip the bows of your eyeglasses up slightly off your ears. This angles the lenses down to reduce glare from lights.

  • Wear makeup. It has the practical purpose of reducing the glare of TV lights.

  • Apply it to all exposed body parts, like backs of hands, arms, neck, etc. Apply cover-up below eyes to mask bags and/or wrinkles.

  • Good studios are kept cool to negate the effect of the hot TV lights. You may freeze for a while until the lights are turned on, then you may burn up. Dress for the heat, but bring a jacket or extra cover-up to be used while you are waiting to go on.

  • Bring a handkerchief or tissues to dab perspiration during breaks.

  • Don't second guess the camera. Act as if you are always on screen.

  • Make sure your makeup, wardrobe, and hair are consistent with your message.


  • Wear knee-length socks.

  • Always keep double breasted jackets buttoned.

  • Single breasted jackets can be opened, but not too wide.

  • I SAY AGAIN Wear Makeup. TV lights can penetrate several layers of skin. You can't possibly shave close enough to prevent whiskers from showing without makeup.

  • Don't forget makeup on receding hairlines or bald heads.

Trick: Run the thin part of your tie through the loop in the back of the main part of your tie then clip the thin part to your shirt below the loop. This will keep your tie perfectly centered without the tie clip showing.


  • Don't wear vivid red lipstick or lip gloss. Stick to softer tones and dab lips with a little powder.

  • Consider dress shields if you perspire easily.

  • Make sure your hair will stay where you want it. You don't want to be fooling with it while on the air.

  • Make sure a lavaliere or lapel microphone and transmitter can be attached to your clothing.

Lillian Brown has written the best resource I know of on the topic of appearing on television. It's called 'Your Public Best: The Complete Guide to Making Successful Public Appearances in the Meeting Room, on the Platform and on TV' (Newmarket Press: New York 1989).


  • If possible prior to the videoconference, send remote location participants handouts, copies of agenda, and copies of visuals.

  • Try to get someone else to operate the camera and other equipment. Have them shoot close up if possible. With more than one presenter, if you leave the camera on wide angle, the viewers will have trouble picking out who is talking.

  • Periodically ask for feedback from the remote sites. Your chances for misunderstanding multiply when communicating electronically.

  • Remember assume you are always on camera. Use the mute button for your microphone if you must converse off the main program.

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