How To Be Presidential On Video

January 21, 2013 by VidCompare Leave a reply »

Guest post by Geoff Talbot

In November 2012 President Obama was re-elected to serve another term in office. Now, the 57th Presidential Inauguration is just around the corner taking place on Monday, January 20, 2013. What we’ve learned from the race to be President is that the video camera tells no lies.  In this century, you can’t have a face for radio and expect to be the president of “The United States of America.” How you look and how you communicate on camera is crucial to your chances if you want to get elected.

Your performance on video matters more than ever. One slip-up, one major indiscretion and your run for the oval office could be halted in its tracks. Social media allows your video mishap to go viral, your slip-up can be shared and spread around the world in a matter of minutes.

You can be certain that both candidates received hours of coaching on how to look and sound presidential.  The votes came in re-electing President Obama. In case you ever want to run for president or any office, here are seven tips we uncovered by watching the candidates run for office on how to act like a serious candidate on video.


1.    Don’t assume that you are ever not on video.

In today’s high-tech world with video cameras on most cell phones and people shooting video of news as it happens and posting it to citizen journalism sites, it’s a mistake to ever consider a conversation “off the record.” What you say in private has the potential to destroy you in public, so being consistent with your speech and your values is critical.

Mitt Romney discovered the importance of this with his 47% statement, which he made behind apparently, closed doors to a group of investors.

 2.    What you do when the other person is talking matters.

It’s a mistake to think that being presidential on video is solely about the things that you have to say and share. Of equal importance is what you do when the other person is talking. How do you listen? How do you respond when you disagree?

This was never more obvious than during the obama-romney debate when the vice-president candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan drew swords and tried to slay each other. Vice-President Biden laughed and scoffed his way through Ryan’s answers and many a discerning viewer found this off putting and in some cases offensive.

3. Talk to the viewer behind the camera.

Remember the camera is a conduit that simply connects you to people. Don’t be tempted to talk at or play to the camera, this technique will nearly always place a barrier between yourself and a potential voter. Talk through the camera; imagine an actual person sitting in their living room and talk directly to them.

4.    It’s all about the energy you bring.

What makes someone appear presidential? It can appear to be an almost indefinable quality, a sense of authority that conveys trust. I think of it as energy.

Energy should not be confused with being “overtly energetic.” The energy that accompanies a sense of authority comes from being passionate and well prepared; knowing the facts and really caring about the people. Nothing conveys trust like authenticity.

5.    Don’t over-rehearse.

While preparation is critical, you don’t want to appear overly rehearsed or coached on video; often a speechwriter will write your speeches. It’s a mistake to simply learn their words and convey them on camera. It takes more than just saying the right words.

Spend the time to learn the ideas the words are conveying and concentrate on what you are actually saying. Make sure that the words mean something to you personally and question what they may mean to the person on the other side of the lens.

6.    Be Emotional.

Now this doesn’t mean that you should cry on national television, but being unemotional doesn’t install confidence either.

The value of an emotional connection cannot be underestimated; in some ways it does not matter what the “emotion” actually is.  Being presidential on video is simply about being authentic and having believable emotional responses to the world around you.

One of the best examples of an authentic emotional response came from President Obama during the 2012 debates season. When challenged about his response to the Libyan crisis.

7.    Be the President.

If you want to be presidential then you have be the president. What do I mean by being “the president”?

I’m talking about carrying that sense of destiny, that aura of authority that simply demands respect. It’s the energy you give off when you truly understand that being “President” isn’t a job or a role that you are being asked to play, but simply an honest reflection of who you actually are as a human being.

While the run for the office of President of the United States was played out on a national stage through commentary and presidential debates, these presidential video tips are helpful for elections of all kinds (student body, city council, fraternities and sororities). Although your video might not go viral in a matter of minutes your presentation can leave a lasting impression.

What do you think of these tips? Do they made a difference on how you voted? Let us know in the comments below.

Geoff Talbot is a writer for the RealPlayer blog.


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