The Pros and Cons of Videotaping a Presentation

Christopher Witt —  October 15, 2012

Most speech coaches and trainers believe in the value of videotaping the people they work with as they are giving presentations.

I’m of a divided mind on the issue. Sometimes it’s effective. Sometimes it’s not.

Here are the Pros of Why You Should Use Videotaping to Improve People’s Speaking and Presentation Skills

  • People can see and hear themselves — their posture, gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, verbal tics and distractions — as others do.
  • People can work on changing mannerisms that are less than effective.
  • People can see improvement from one speech to the next and gain confidence as a result.

Here are the Cons or Why You Might Not Want to Use Videotaping to Improve People’s Speaking and Presentation Skills

  • People who are already afraid of giving a speech or making a presentation can become even more anxious and self-conscious.
  • People can be led to believe that their delivery style — how they look and sound — is the most important aspect of a speech.
  • People can change a habitual mannerism in the short run (the next time they’re being videotaped, for example) but not over the long run.

My Assessment: Videotaping people while you’re coaching them or working with them in a workshop setting has value (potentially great value) if…

  1. They are already accomplished in what I consider more fundamental skills, such as knowing their audience, crafting a compelling message for that audience, creating clear and effective visual aids, rehearsing.
  2. They do not feel threatened, exposed, or belittled by the experience.
  3. They learn how to evaluate their performance, assessing themselves without being harshly critical.

It’s the job of the speech coach or presentation trainer to determine, first of all, who will benefit from being videotaped and under what conditions. (Not everyone, believe me, will profit from being taped.) And then it’s their job to provide the context, guidance, and support to make being videotaped a positive learning experience. 

What do you think?

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Christopher Witt

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Chris Witt was born in Los Angeles, California. He currently lives in San Diego. He works as a speech and presentations consultant, an executive speech coach, and an orals coach.

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