Guest post from Australian film director, Mo MacRae (a 6 minute read)

Whenever I do a webinar there are always fabulous unanswered questions left over at the end of our time together. In this post, Mo MacRae, my guest for On Camera Presence, generously answers some of those left at the end of our recent conversation to build on the wisdom and inspiration he shared live.



Is a phone or computer camera enough and what other tools do you recommend?

Yes, they are enough. Stepping up in gear makes a difference, but who you are being and how you stay present to connect with your audience will always trump tech.

Best first level step-up for Zoom, Skype and virtual conferences is a better web-cam and better microphone:

  • WEBCAM: Logitech c922 (and download the software to adjust the picture quality – lower brightness and colour saturation)
  • USB MICROPHONE: Blue Yetti Podcast or RODE NT USB (to sit on your desk)
  • USB WIRELESS LAV MIC: Boya BY-WM4 Pro-K5 (if you want to move around your space to use a whiteboard, demonstrate movement for yoga or show off your dance moves).

Before you buy, make sure you check out what’s going to work for your computer system, input connections and phone. You may need adaptors in some cases.

Next step up is to get some lights. Something like this is sufficient for most uses. Small and easy. And get one of these.

Can you tell me more about being believable?

The essence of this pillar lies in Self Belief – your audience won’t believe you until you believe you.

In my coaching program, I help people dig deep into their self belief and find the triggers that allow them to access it in an instant. Like the “Smile-Trigger” photo I spoke about takes you into a state of joy, your “self-belief triggers” take you into a state of calm confidence. 

Two exercises for you to do:


Write down three of your greatest achievements. Not necessarily related to work. Anything that you’re proud of  – usually an achievement that is rooted in a character trait or habit that shows you at your best. Use detail and don’t be humble – this is for you to read to yourself, not for you to read to the world.


Write down three positive things that people say about you. Not necessarily related to work. Anything! What do people love about you? Use detail and don’t be humble – this is for you to read to yourself, not for you to read to the world.

The trick is now to find an image, an object or words that will take you back into the feeling of that moment.

As an example (and forgive me because this doesn’t sound humble, but the point is I’m not meant to be sharing it with anyone else, but I want to share with you as an example), above my desk, behind my camera, is a framed copy of the envelope that was opened live on TV to announce that my brother and I had won Matt Damon & Ben Affleck’s $1million dollar Project Greenlight Australia. It was a big moment for us and a happy moment. And as a trigger, just a glance at it reminds me subconsciously that I am good at what I do and have value worth paying for. It’s a booster-shot to ward off the paralysing symptoms of imposter syndrome.

Can you please explain more about ‘state vs script’?

Eye contact is important, but it doesn’t have to be constant. Eighty percent max is about being comfortable and engaging. If you have notes that you need to refer to, the real trick is not trying to hide the fact you’re looking at them. Don’t side glance at them or put them near the camera. Don’t flick your eyes across to them without moving your head. Doing any of these is completely obvious to your audience but feels deceptive because you’re trying to hide what you’re actually doing. Better to “own” that you are looking at your notes. Take a moment, and look at them. Gather your thoughts, think about your words and then speak. Obama used to do it well. When you are overt in this movement you are not only displaying confidence through the honesty of not trying to conceal your work, but the pause can often add weight. Just don’t read from the page. Look at your notes, then come back to the camera to speak.

There are more layers of nuance and other ways to perfect this kind of delivery but always come back to being true to your audience.

How do I manage where people’s eyes are drawn to on screen?

Once you’re on a little box on their screen, people have all the time in the world to analyse and judge everything in the frame. And they will. It’s about making sure that nothing in your frame distracts from your message. So it’s important to make sure you know what is in your background and “design” it the way you would if you were painting the picture they’re seeing. If you wouldn’t paint it into the scene, then remove it from your background.

And remember: less is more.

I teach people to create their backgrounds by thinking “a little bit of nothing and a little bit of you.”

So firstly, clear just about everything out. If there are books on shelves, straighten them. Tidy them. Remove half of them. If there are trinkets on your shelves, remove most of them. Leave one or two that have meaning to you. Think of it as clearing the frame of distractions for your audience and as Feng Shui for your “set”. Creating a background and “set” that builds your energy.

How do I get people to engage more in a ‘town hall’ style meeting?

A large audience is tough to get feedback from online, but the best thing you can do is follow the principles we spoke about – Comfortable, Vulnerable, Believable – craft your content with a drive for less information (logic) and more connection (empathy). Then (and this can be tough, but is the real trick here) build your delivery on the feedback you wish you were getting at any moment. You have to direct your audience. 

Often when you’re delivering on a large stage, you can’t see or hear the audience. It’s hard to “see” their energy and most people don’t ‘give good face’ anyway. But they are still looking to you to see how you respond to the way your speech is going. If you smile and enjoy your lighter moments, it will give them permission to. If you go deep and make a big point that you truly believe matters, then let that impact you the way you want it to impact the audience. Be you. Be for them who you want them to be for you. It’s an energetic loop.

This is one of the main pieces I work on with my coaching clients. It’s big work and it takes commitment. You’ve got to put yourself out there to achieve this – and that’s the vulnerable part. If you want them to have energy, give it to them. If you want them to engage with your message, then you need to engage with it first. But all we have – the BEST we have – is ourselves. So run with it! 

Beyond all else…be you. Be ALL you. That will always be the most engaging thing of all.


Mo MacRae:

Mo MacRae is one of Australia’s most in demand commercial film directors and author of the upcoming book “VIDEOCONOMY: How to harness video in the new economy for your business, your brand and yourself.”

Mo has lectured and tutored in creativity and communication for over 20 years and now coaches leadership teams in the art of having On Camera Presence – how to be comfortable and confident in front of the camera to connect with and engage your audience.

In 2007 Mo won Matt Damon & Ben Affleck’s million dollar film competition, Project Greenlight, with his brother Kenn. He has gone on to direct feature films, brand content and some of Australia’s most loved TV commercials including the Sam Kekovich “Australia Day” Lamb ads.

Enjoyed our webinar and want to learn more?

  • WATCH the full recording of our On Camera Presence webinar HERE
  • VISIT Mo’s website to book yourself and your team a FREE webcam set up session
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