Ever find yourself mesmerized by the news? Not necessarily the news topics themselves but the newscaster talking about them?
There’s a reason newscasters make a good living talking to you through the screen: once you start watching them, it’s hard to stop.
They have commanding voices and postures. They gesture at just the right times and with just the right amount of motion. They are, essentially, like politicians: masters at the art of on-screen communication.
What’s their secret sauce and what can we learn from them to apply to video meetings?
Let’s look at the three things newscasters do that we can mimic to make us more effective communicators in video calls.
Look closely at the way your favorite newscasters appear on TV. We’re not talking about their clothes or hair—although that’s important, too. But in this case, we’re referring to framing. How does the screen frame the newscaster?
Newscasters use the “rule of thirds”: the most important elements of the picture need to fall on the one-third mark. Notice that their eyes are usually one-third from the top of the frame.
Also—the top of their head is just below the top of the frame, and their shoulders are clearly visible:
Before your next video meeting, try starting an online meeting with just yourself. In RingCentral Video, just go to the Video tab in the RingCentral app and click “Start” to start a meeting. Then, adjust your distance and angle from your webcam to get your framing just right.
Newscasters project confidence, smarts, and authority when they speak. It’s a pleasure to listen to them speak—but at the same time, the way they talk doesn’t distract you from what they’re saying.
That’s because they’ve been trained to speak this way. They moderate their speed and tone, enunciate clearly, and act naturally—or at least, just naturally enough to come off as relaxed and casual.
Speaking like this takes practice. For your next video call, think about slowing down a little and enunciating more.
Record yourself talking. Yeah, a lot of us don’t like the sound of our own voices, but it’s a great tool to learn how actually you sound to others. You can also record meetings in RingCentral Video. Record your next meeting and hear how you sound.
Another thing you may have noticed about newscasters: they’re always “present”. That is, they’re fully engaged and in the moment, and you never get the sense that they’re “somewhere else” in their head.
The key to having this kind of presence is being fully aware and accepting of every moment without judging it or wanting it to pass or go away. This takes practice, too. People who practice regular meditation tend to be more present, as do those who do regular yoga or any activity that requires a focus on breathing.
The next time you’re on a video call, use your breath as the anchor of your presence. When your mind wanders off, gently bring it back to the task—video call—at hand by becoming aware of your breathing. You’ll find your viewers responding in kind by being more engaged with what you’re saying.
Stay focused, but also remember to relax your shoulders back. This will give you a posture that projects confidence that your viewers would notice.
Have your next video meeting like a seasoned newscaster
Applying the framing, presence, and speech tactics of newscasters will greatly improve your communication effectiveness on video calls. But also remember the golden rule: be yourself. If it feels unnatural, it’s probably going to do more harm than good.
Practice will make things easier, and when they’re easier they will come more naturally, and pretty soon you’ll be a commanding presence—the star anchor of every video call. Learn more about how to have better meetings here.
Originally published Apr 13, 2020, updated Jun 23, 2021