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7 top tips for talking about your game on camera

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7 top tips for talking about your game on camera

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single developer in possession of a good game must be in want of a video camera to stand in front of. 

Sort of. Some really don’t want to stand in front of a video camera.

Some actually want all recording equipment pointed as far away from them as possible – preferably on to someone else. Or switched off entirely.

But talking about your game on camera is now  a necessity.

You might need to preview it for a media outlet, or simply be interviewed at an industry event.

You may be speaking on stage with the talk being posted online, or your marketing team might want to create some company videos.

Whatever the reason, we’ve gone back through our experiences making videos here at Pocket Gamer to come up with seven key tips for speaking on camera.

#1: Exude enthusiasm

Exude enthusiasm

There's a reason that "it's not what you say, but how you say it" is an age old adage.

Professor Albert Mehrabian found in his 1967 study that 7 percent of meaning is inferred in the words we speak, while 38 percent is in the way they're said, and 55 percent is in facial expression alone.

In other words, enthusiasm and high energy will make people a lot more interested in your game than a well-rehearsed script.

However, it's important not to be overly energised. There's a fine line between engaging and patronising - or even insane.

Be you on camera, but you on a good day: Smiley, energetic, and enthused.

Just look how far it's taken the ever-cheerful Games Guru Tommy Palm (pictured).

#2: The camera is your friend

The camera is your friend

Talk as if you're talking to your friend or colleague.

Of course, this depends on whether you're being interviewed on camera, or are addressing the camera directly.

In either situation though, being friendly and relaxed without the veneer of formality will make for a much more interesting watch.

If you're being interviewed, try to answer the questions in the same way you would if your friend were to ask you and hopefully your interviewer will oblige.

Things get trickier if you're the one addressing the camera directly. It's a little known fact that some of the most seasoned TV presenters will sellotape a picture of a person underneath the camera lens to remind them they're talking to an actual human being.

If you have no adhesives to hand, however, try picturing the person sitting at home watching you and name them in your head.

Acting naturally comes easier when you can talk to a person with an actual identity.

#3: Be concise

Be concise

If you're being interviewed, keep answers as brief as possible.

Generally the interviewer will have an angle, and will zoom in on any key points you make and steer you into topics they want to talk about.

If you're writing a piece to camera talking about your game or studio, follow the "who, what, why?" approach.

Explain who you are, what your game is, and the details you want to expand upon as succinctly as possible.

A simple "Hello, I'm John Smith and we're here at Games Studios Are Us to talk about our latest game, Flappy Bird Clone" looks incredibly dull on paper.

But if you say it with enthusiasm and clarity your audience will be engaged and informed.

#4: Adjust your position

Adjust your position

If you're sitting down, make sure you're angling your feet to the camera.

It's the silent third member of a conversation between you and an interviewer, and needs to be included with your body language.

The same goes for if you're standing, though here you also need to remember to stand with your shoulders back and firmly planted.

Rocking back and forth out of shot makes for a tricky edit later.

#5: It's all in the hands

It's all in the hands

Hand gestures are one of the easiest ways to appear relaxed, even if you're nervous.

Back up what you say with gestural accents that punctuate important points. For example, if you're saying "hello and welcome" you might open your arms for a second on "welcome" in greeting.

It sounds incredibly basic, but so many people freeze when they're on camera, or put their hands behind their back or fold their arms.

The best place to keep your hands is lightly clasped in front of you, resting the back of your right hand against the palm of your left.

You can easily make a point, and then return your hands to this relaxed base position.

#6: Hold still

Hold still

Just as you need to keep your feet planted, if you're demo-ing a handheld game the smartphone or tablet should be held completely still.

This doesn't just mean not shaking the device, but keeping the screen as level as possible so the camera can stay focussed on all the action.

If the feed is going out live, perhaps from an event or show floor, hold the device still for longer than you think. You may have two cameras on you, one for the close up of the game, and one for your face, and you won't necessarily know when each one is rolling.

Keep the device still to give time for the operators to switch and catch up with you.

#7: Make a mental ladder

Make a mental ladder

With a lot to cover, it helps to prepare a mental ladder in organising your thoughts.

Rather than rehearsing an entire script to answer questions or present to camera, have rough bullet points of what you want to cover, each with a link.

So for example you might want to talk about the name of your game, which feeds in to the storyline, which influenced the design and the characters.

Essentially, have an outline set in your head before you start talking, but not so much that you sound robotic or rehearsed.