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4 Essential Tips for First-Time Presenters

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

  • Speaking on camera for the first time can be nerve-racking, but following a few guidelines can keep you looking comfortable and professional. This article reviews body language, wardrobe choices, and preparation strategies that lead to a successful presentation.

  • Learning to project your voice, speak at a good volume, and control your flow of speech can help you come off as calm, clear, and authoritative.

  • Body language and clothing choice can both go a long way in improving your on-camera presence. Knowing what to look for and controlling these factors can help build confidence and prevent visual distractions.

If you haven’t done it before, hosting your first public-facing webinar, keynote speech, virtual presentation, or any other event can be daunting. That's why we, at Gradient, are here to guide you through nailing your first livestream. In our experience, the tips below have proven to help effectively prepare speakers and keep nerves in check. So … take a deep breath, and let us guide you to a successful presentation!

Using Your Voice to Connect with Your Audience

Your voice is one of the most powerful tools, and you can easily train it using some of the steps we lay out below.

  • Ensure your message is effectively delivered by speaking slowly and enunciating your words clearly. This is even more important in the digital realm, where attendees see your facial expressions in full relief vs at a distance when in-person.

  • Stage fright and nerves can often, inadvertently, lower the volume of your speaking voice when you are more timid. So, even in less-than-ideal conditions, identify something that makes you feel strong and powerful. Speak slightly louder than you would in a normal conversation. This ensures that your voice carries farther in an in-person setting and creates an air of strength and authority to the content of your message. However, make sure you strike a balance so you aren't shouting.

  • When addressing questions from your audience, it's important to take a brief moment before responding. This pause lets you gather your thoughts, consider the question, and formulate a well-thought-out answer. In the digital realm, pausing also allows technical show runners to switch the attendees view between speakers.

  • Vocal inflections have a huge impact on the content of your messaging. Because English is not a tonal language, different implicit meanings can be derived from the same sentence spoken in a different manner. Without considering the impact of this, you can easily come off unintentionally timid or forceful. Ending a thought with an upward inflection communicates a sense of questioning or uncertainty in the listener. Downward inflections communicate a sense of finality and conclusion. Furthermore, placing emphasis on different words can change the meaning of a sentence. For example, “Why are you here?” will have a slightly different meaning than “Why are you here?” Mastering awareness of your tonality can be an effective way to keep your presentation moving by subtly leading your audience in exactly where you want them to.

  • Before starting long sentences or diving into complex ideas, take deliberate breaths to ensure you have enough air. I have a good friend who often forgets this when he's excitedly explaining an idea. So, keeping this in mind, will ensure you don't rush through your speech or end it abruptly to take a gulp of air.

  • Even with deliberate practice, it is easy to miss issues in your speech without hearing it from a listener’s perspective. When we hear ourselves this way, we not only hear our voices the way others hear them, but also make it easier to identify mistakes in our speech flow. This could include awkward phrasing, stutters, accidental omissions, etc. So, take out your phone or laptop, and practice aloud while recording.

Conveying Confidence and Connection

Your body language speaks volumes, even through a screen. Mastering it can help you convey your messaging like a pro.

  • Relax and Maintain an Open Body Posture. Keeping both shoulders square to the audience or camera helps you exude confidence and approachability. Avoid crossing your arms, as it creates a barrier between you and your message.

  • Hand gestures are an effective way to support your speech and hold your audience’s attention. If you find yourself listing something in your presentation, counting along with your fingers is a great way to show this visually and keep a sense of progression. When you discuss the size or amount of something, you might make a level gesture or spread your palms apart. Pointing can also be a very effective way to grab attention for an important comment. These sorts of signals are a great way to hold an audience’s attention.

  • For live video events, keep your movements in mind for the camera. The further you stray from your starting mark, the more difficult it will be to maintain proper camera framing.

  • For video-tapped events, without an audience, treat the camera lens or laptop as an audience member. Maintaining steady eye contact creates a sense of connection and engagement with your viewers. A lack of eye contact can undercut your messaging and authenticity by making you appear disinterested.

  • Good posture makes you appear confident, helps with breath control, and voice projection. To do this, stand tall with your shoulders back, your spine straight and your head held high.

  • Nervous habits such as fidgeting with your hair, tapping your fingers, or swaying back and forth can convey anxiety or lack of confidence. Bringing awareness to your own habits can help you keep them in check. If you find yourself nervous before you start, consider employing a grounding technique such as the 5-4-3-2-1 method. To do this, take a deep breath, and make note of five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and finally one thing you can taste. This will calm you down and keep your nervous habits under control.

Dress For the Camera

Your appearance can make or break a presentation. Follow these tips to look polished and professional on camera.

  • Choose bright solid colors that pop on camera. White can appear too bright on camera, so It’s best to avoid it. If you wear a tie, choose a bright color that compliments your outfit's color scheme.

  • Avoid strong patterns or busy prints. These can become distorted on camera and create a distraction.

  • Avoid large accessories or large statement pieces that may be distracting or problematic for microphones.

  • If you are speaking under strong lights, pat your face with oil blotting papers. These will absorb excess oil and reduce any reflective glare, ensuring that your skin looks natural and camera-ready.

  • If you wear glasses, check to see if they are reflecting light during your rehearsal. If they do, you should consider wearing contact lenses during the event.

When Gradient Produced Beam Suntory’s first virtual brand event, we communicated this advice to the presenters before the event. As a result, the presenters arrived camera ready with professional clothing that didn’t cause any distractions from their presentations.

Make Your Speech Relatable

Crafting a great speech can be a daunting task. Here are some guidelines to help you give a captivating performance:

  • When writing your script, think of how you can use storytelling elements to make it more engaging and memorable. Short anecdotal stories can illustrate your points clearly and give the audience something relatable to grasp onto.

  • Embracing your unique qualities and having a strong personality allows the audience to connect with you.Show genuine enthusiasm for your topics and let your passion fuel your delivery.

Reach Out to Gradient Experiential About Live Events

With our expertise and experience in live video production, Gradient Experiential is your trusted partner in creating highly polished livestream presentations. We understand the importance of providing a comfortable environment for speakers, irrespective of their on-camera experience. Our goal is to deliver exceptional results that make our clients proud. By collaborating with Gradient, you can expect to produce truly special live video presentations tailored to your specific needs. Together, we'll bring your vision to life and captivate your audience with an unforgettable livestream experience.

For inquiries on live production, you can use our inquiry form here, call our office line at: (212) 997-9742, or email us at

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