Editing Rant: Don’t Cover Your Mouth

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While convention season has changed from In-Person to Video, it never hurts to go over the basic reminders for the people behind the table and how they may apply to the video format.


Many of the audience are hearing impaired and need to see your lips move to understand things. In addition, it breaks up the sound waves and your voice doesn’t carry as far and is distorted.

In video format, this can interfere with the microphone picking up your voice. And while you might think that the hearing impaired may be able to just crank the sound louder at home, for some it is a frequency level (high or low pitches) or clarity of words. Keep those hands away from your mouth.

2. Do not sit with arms crossing your chest either when you are talking or listening to others.

I think all of us know enough about body language to understand why. (Yes, ConGregate and other conventions get really cold. While on stage, you are acting and get to suck it up. Just saying.)

In video format, act like you are listening. While it may be hard to keep staring at the camera instead of taking the downtime in a large panel to get some emails responded to, your job is still to act like you are paying attention. Remember this filming is evergreen – two or three years from now, people will see you dissing your fellow authors. Keep an open and attentive persona for the screen.

3. Modesty.

Do not manspread (applies to women too), whether in a kilt/skirt or pants. Often you are set higher than the audience … and they can see everything. Pray for tablecloths to the floor, but don’t expect them. It’s fun and fine to be all sexy on top; showing how far you shave is not fun or fine.

In video format, pants. Wear them. Please.

4. Be polite.

These are paying customers. Even your panel mates. You’re in a customer service gig – smile like you are working as a retail cashier.

In video format, smile. And remember when talking … evergreen and open to the entire world. This is not the time to air any dirty laundry.

5. Get water.

An hour is a long time. Get water at the start because getting up during interrupts the show.

In video format, stick to water. Other items can become problematic while shooting. Milk products produce mucus; sodas gas (burbs and other noises). Adult beverages can limit the audience for your video. Another aspect is the reader who is watching your video is reading what you are drinking INSTEAD OF paying attention to you.

In addition, anything you bring to your mouth will be on screen. This is where the evergreen kicks in – sometimes companies do stupid things a year or ten down the line. Do you ALWAYS want to be associated with this company in every circumstance? 

6. Bathroom break.

Grab a bathroom break before going in if you can.

In video format, prep. Get everything ready that you will need. Test things out in advance for the video and sound and be ready when the “live” format begins.