Copied and pasted from an artilce I write for a telecom juirnal
Ilove the clients who ‘wing-it’ on
camera and get it right the first
time. We call them “One-Take
Charlie” because we shoot them
(record them) once and we’re done.
The production values for this kind
of project are relatively predictable
and easy to quote.
I recently video taped a group of
senior executives presenting a do-or-perish
initiative to their management
team in preparation for an
international roll-out. We had quoted
a flat fee for recording a live
presentation that would be
distributed to their international
offices, on a DVD. After the
presentation, we reviewed the tape
and it was a no-brainer that one part
of the presentation failed to make the
point. The executive was off-script.
The client concurred and we made
plans to re-shoot in a studio.
During preparations for the original
recording, we had left a camera
rolling while we tested equipment,
and we had a few minutes of tape
showing the empty stage. Our plan
was to reshoot one executive on a
chroma-key (green screen)
background and then substitute the
background with the empty stage
from the original event. .
When the client arrived at the studio
he had no notes. In fact, he never
worked with notes. I asked him if he
wanted to do a couple of practice
runs and he said, “No, let’s get it done
so I can get back to the office”. He
moved into position, the cameras
rolled and the executive launched into
his presentation. He stopped about
30 seconds later. After several more
stops his frustration level grew and
things went from bad to worse. He
left the studio and we used the
When someone tells me they are
going to do it in one shot, I often say,
“go ahead - make my day!”
The executive’s original presentation
to a live audience was smooth,
polished, entertaining and engaging
but he failed to make the point. He
had the same problem in the studio.
In fact, many executives are quite
comfortable with on-camera
interviews but asking them to talk
direct to the camera when they are
alone, is off-limits. Why?
The answer came from an executive
in a management search firm. She
has interviewed thousands of people
and noted the stark differences
between extraverts and introverts in
an interview situation. Extraverts
were quick to engage, were energized
by having people around them, and
answered questions on the fly. In
short, they are quite comfortable
‘winging it’. Introverts were harder to
engage; they were more reflective and
usually paused to think before giving
a cautious, direct answer. Extraverts
would often drift off-topic.
Here’s the hook. When you’re talking
to a camera, there is no one to engage
or respond to! Whether you’re an
introvert or an extravert, the things that
normally prompt your dialogue are
absent and this causes people to freeze,
unless they are scripted and rehearsed.
I always recommend scripting and
rehearsing the presentation but
‘wingers’ often respond with,
“That will look phony!”
So why do it that way?
When you’re ‘live’ on camera, anything
that comes out of your mouth
is seen by the viewer and you can’t
take it back. As you climb the ladder
of success, the last thing you want in circulation is a permanent record of a
bad performance. It might end up on
After reviewing thousands of hours of
tapes, I am certain that those who
take the time to script and rehearse,
consistently produce better results,
live or taped!
This experience is not unique to
executives! Professional speakers are
often smooth as butter on stage but
I’ve seen them freeze in a studio.
A local news reporter concurs that
presenting to a camera is different
from presenting to an audience.
Actors read a script, rehearse, and
then try several times on camera
before they get it right. I work with
a local television studio where we
pre-record parts of a live-to-air show
so fewer mistakes are seen on air.
Bad scripts can be re-written. A bad,
live performance, will always be bad.
But it goes much deeper than that.
Scripted, well rehearsed executives
spend less time in the studio. Their
message is clearer and the cost of
production is lower. That’s before you
consider the cost savings of online vs.
Digital video is quickly finding its way
into corporate communications; it is
changing the way we communicate
with staff, channels, and customers.