March 7, 2009

Are you playing to the cameras, and, if so, what might you be loosing?

Last night, I had the great pleasure of seeing the new Broadway production of West Side Story. I was there as a guest of the company that was filming the show for the producers. At intermission, when I commented that the performance seemed just the tiniest bit slow, ever-so-slightly off its natural tempo, I was informed that invariably, when the shows are filmed, they run 3-5 minutes longer! The director felt the actors might be playing to the cameras, emphasizing certain lines, being more conscious of foot work, etc.

It got me thinking: as presenters, do we play to the cameras? And, if so, do we sacrifice of a certain level of naturalness, a comfort level we've previously established with our material?

Great presenters, of course, balance the two. Perhaps a trick is to always play to the cameras - to imagine, from conception to implementation of your presentation, that you will, indeed, be filmed. Given cell phones and video technology, it's not an unlikely premise.

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