Who hates slating? Raise your hand. Did you raise your hand..? Probably not...because that is what slating feels like - responding to someone who isn't there. Let's dive into the discomfort and examine this thing that occasionally turns even the most seasoned actors into schmactors.
I see instructions from casting directors that want a slate and others that give no mention of it. Some projects demand a slate with a full body scan, others a slate in a medium shot with a piece of paper held out in front of the actor with their Name, Height, Blood Type, Agency, Social Security Number, Address, Voting Record --- oh and a wide shot after that. Got to make sure you don't have weird feet! While I will leave my personal thoughts on whether slating should die a horrible death to the side, I will pass along some observations, insights, and preferences regarding this time-honored tradition:
1) If you are required to slate, treat the camera like a human being.
Pick a family member. A friend if Thanksgivings at home are tense. If you want to get specific (and you do), pick a time that person was being batshit amazing to you, now thank them by giving them your "name, height, etc."
2) Don't slate if it doesn't say anything about slating in the instructions from casting. "But what if they left if off?" Well then, they forgot to give you an important piece of information. I have seen many actors (and have done it myself too) add a slate because they think that casting always wants it. Nope. I've talked to people in casting that say slates bore them to tears. Don't let your neediness make you give them something they don't want.
3) Subtle posing. Yeah, yeah, yeah be yourself and all that, but I find that some of my clients work the slate like it's a runway. And it's great! Find that angle of your body that looks best. If the slate involves a body scan or a wide shot, they are including it to get a glimpse at the whole you. Just make sure its the best possible version of the whole you.
5) Put the slate at the end of your tape unless specified. Lead with your acting. Make them take note of your performance and then give them the ol' howdydoo. On this same note, unless the client has a let's get it over first mentality regarding slating, I normally tape the performance first then slate. 9 times out of 10 you see a more relaxed version of the slate if you've already done the heavy lifting in the scene.
6) For you method folks be the character in the slate. Unless of course, the character is a psycho. In that case, be the kindler, gentler, less Norman Batesy version.