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4.1 Posture and Gestures

The way we look and sound isn’t the only way we communicate. We also do so through body language. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to sit and stand for the video camera, and what to do with your hands.

4.1 Posture and Gestures

Welcome back I'm Cindy Burgess for Tut's plus. In this chapter we'll take a look at how we communicate through our body language things like gestures posture and facial expression. Some of these things we do deliberately. But other elements of body language communicate on a more subconscious level. In other words, you may be saying one thing verbally, but your body may be saying another. In this lesson, we focus on posture and gestures. You'll learn how to sit and stand for the video camera. And what to do with your hands. Just like with your voice, being relaxed is key to a good performance on camera. If you're nervous your muscles will tense up and you'll come across as stiff and uncomfortable. So before you start, do a few exercises to loosen up. I like to roll my shoulders a few times. Starting backwards And then forwards. And then same thing with my neck and head drop it to the left, slowly roll over to the right side and then back again. Lot of creaking going on here. Oh, that feels good. I tend to carry a lot of stress and tension in my shoulders and spend a lot of time behind a computer so this area gets very stiff. Then I give my arms a good shake. There's really no secret formula. Do whatever works for you to loosen up your body and make you feel relaxed. Okay. Now let's take a look at positioning our body for standing in front of the camera. Remember what mama always said, stand up straight. Yeah, she was right. You want to stand tall with your shoulders back. But not military straight, where your posture is rigid and motionless. Instead, imagine there's a string attached attached to the top of your head. And someone is pulling on it. To straighten you up. So you're standing straight but you're still loose in the shoulders arms and head. You can stand facing the camera straight on. But here's the thing about video. It's very two dimensional and flat. You've heard that the camera adds ten pounds, It's true. And that's why. One way to create some depth and make yourself look slimmer, is to angle your body slightly so that one shoulder is closer to the camera than the other. This creates the illusion of depth and can be more flattering to your figure. Stand with your feet about shoulder width the part, and keep them there. Resist the urge to sway back and forth. Some people do this unconsciously when they're nervous. One final note about positioning, if you're standing in front of a wall or backdrop like I am make sure you're a few feet away from it. If you stand right up against it you'll look like you're stuck to it or like your in a police mug shot [LAUGH]. Take a big step forward to help create some depth to the shot. Now the big question, what do I do with my hands well the answer is simple, do what's natural for you. If you're like me and you talk with your hands, don't try to change that, just be yourself. You will have to pay attention though to the way you frame your shot. And I'll talk about that more in the next chapter. Some common hand positions include clasping them in front of you. Putting one hand in your pocket and gesturing with the other, or even hooking your thumbs in your pocket. Beware of crossing your arms. Not only is it difficult to move, but subconsciously you're sending out the message that you're defensive and closed off from your audience. Also beware of gesturing with a closed fist. This translates as aggression or being unyielding. Instead use an open palm. This suggests you have nothing to hide and that you're warm and inviting. Okay, now let's take a look at sitting for the camera. Same tips apply. Sit up straight. But not too rigidly. Resist the urge to slump. Not only will you look like you're slouching, this also restricts your breathing. Instead if you hold your shoulders back your chest opens up and you'll find it easier to breathe. Now, here's where a little body language comes into play. When you're sitting, lean forward slightly. This conveys energy and interest in the person you're addressing. If you lean back in your chair or slouch, you may think you're coming across as casual and relaxed. But the message your body is sending subconsciously, is that you're not interested or you're disengaged. So sit in either a neutral position, or lean slightly forward. Avoid sitting on a chair that swivels for obvious reasons. Swiveling is one of those things we do without even realizing it, especially if we're nervous. If you must use a swivel chair keep both feet planted firmly on the ground, your less likely to swivel then if your legs are crossed. As far as your hands are concerned you can place them in your lap in a couple of different positions. Side by side on your legs. Folded together. One hand on the other arm. Same thing if you're sitting at a desk or table. One thing to watch out for is fidgeting. Things like drumming your fingers or jiggling your leg. Any kind of movement catches the eye and can be distracting. The problem with fidgeting of course is that most of us aren't even aware we're doing it. The only way to know is to record our performance and watch it back. Which brings us to the topic of self evaluation. Athletes watch recordings of their games or matches to analyze their movements and see how they can improve. As a news anchor. I did the same thing. I watched recordings of my news casts to analyze the way I looked and sounded on any given night. So if you're serious about video work, make it a habit to watch your performances. I know, I know with horrible. It's really uncomfortable when you're first starting out. We hate the way we look, we hate the way we sound. You got to get used to it. I'm gonna to take you a step further. Ask a friend or family member to watch with you and give you their feedback. This is how we learn what works and what doesn't in terms of our body language. In the next lesson, we'll take a look at communicating through facial expression. I'm Cindy Burgess for TutsPlus. Thanks for watching.

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