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Oct '22 | Edit Now: Today’s Audience Doesn’t Want Your 2019 Speaker Reel

It’s Time to Edit Your Speaker Reel

Hello Professional Speakers: Live events are back, but that doesn’t mean you can dust off the old speaker reel circa 2019. Audiences tastes have changed, and with that collective shift, so has our taste in media. At the beginning of 2020 we may have craved performative escapism—remember the TIGER KING days? But after two years of connecting solely through devices and screens, we now crave real people and real connections.

So what does that mean for your speaker reel? It means that in addition to showcasing a slew of high energy, informational soundbites of you doing what you do best in front of a live audience, we also need to get a glimpse behind-the-curtain and see the real you. Not the performer, or the industry leader, or the teacher. Just you, stripped down, to your most human self. That’s what audiences are not only craving these days, but trusting.

edit your speaker reel

Now, don’t panic, there are ways to edit this human element into your current speaker reel without throwing everything out. The solution: consider filming a direct-to-camera-address and editing that narrative into your reel.

A direct-to-camera-address is fancy production speak for you sitting on a chair staring directly into the camera’s lens, addressing, in a heartfelt and trustworthy manner, an audience that you cannot and will never see. Sound familiar? Yes! It’s exactly what you’ve been forced to master on your zoom sessions over the last two years.

For better or worse, we now have two audiences and events aren’t just called events, they’re called hybrid events. And as professional speakers, you need to show organizations that you can communicate with both virtual audiences as well as live audiences.

Need a real life example of this? Check out Brene Brown’s Atlas of the Heart series on HBO. Instead of launching right into the live event, she begins with a direct address to, well, us. Her virtual audience. The millions of people that weren’t lucky enough to be in attendance that specific day. She made us feel eternally welcome to tag along.


Tips for filming a direct address:

  • Hire a professional. Don’t self record or capture via zoom. We’re so familiar with how the remote record content looks that you risk antiquating your reel even further.
  • Look different than your event footage. This can be as easy as a change of wardrobe, something more down-to-earth than what you’d wear on stage, and in an intimate environment.
  • Feel different than your event footage. Tonally, this should feel like we’re sitting down for coffee, not that you’re preaching from a stage.
  • T-up your event footage, don’t repeat yourself. For further hints on how to structure this new narrative arc, see below.

When scripting a direct address consider this simple outline:

  • Starting with your why— tell the audience (ie, the camera) exactly why your topic is relevant now [Cut to event soundbites that further showcase this topic]
  • Then tell the audience why you— give us a quick hitting bio as to why you’re the perfect person to deliver this topic [Cut to event soundbites that further showcase your ability to deliver this topic]
  • End with a simple sign off— what do you hope audiences will gain after hearing your speech

Need help filming or re-writing your current speaker reel? Please reach out. We love working with professional speakers and have many more tips to share throughout the process.


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K'Dee Miller is the Founder & Creative Director of Patina Pictures.

Her feature films have premiered at Sundance Film Festival, AFI Fest, Newport Beach Film Festival, among others. Her corporate video clients span from technology companies such as Microsoft, RingCentral, DocuSign and Adobe, to Bay Area nonprofits such as Team4Tech and Hamilton Families.

She's studied her industry from every angle, receiving production training from The Juilliard School, an MFA of Writing from University of San Francisco, and a BFA of Acting from Marymount Manhattan College.

She is currently in the process of writing a memoir about growing up in the wilderness of Alaska.