Public speaking. Did reading those two simple words just give you a little bit of anxiety? If so, you’re not alone.
In fact, did you know that an estimated 75% of the world population suffers from glossophobia, the fear of public speaking?
Now, combine public speaking with a camera, and the anxiety levels go through the roof. And we’re not just talking about people who don’t like public speaking, but even people who are seemingly comfortable talking in front of others.
There’s something about staring down the barrel of a camera lens, paired with the fact that you’re being recorded, that can turn a confident speaker into a robotic lecturer.
Video is the king of content, and it’s becoming an increasingly important part of any business marketing strategy. A study found that 54% of consumers want to see more videos from a business or brand they support. With this in mind, the likelihood of you or someone on your team being on camera is highly likely.
This article will break down 10 tips to help you become a pro on-camera.
1. Put yourself on-camera
Yep, this tip is as simple as it seems. Record yourself. Even if it’s as basic as recording yourself reading an email you recently sent. The more you talk to camera, the easier it will get.
Even try playing around with Instagram or Facebook stories, Snapchat, or the rising social media platform TikTok. You don’t have to post the videos, but if you do, you’ll likely start gaining confidence in having others see you on-camera.
Another trick for putting yourself on-camera, at first, is to talk about something you’re passionate or knowledgeable about. But here’s the big pro tip: after you’ve recorded yourself talking about your subject of choosing, watch it. While you watch, take a look at your mannerisms and see which ones do and don’t look great on screen, such as titling your head too far back as you talk or rocking your body back and forth while standing.
2. Imagine you’re talking to a friend or family member
This is a trick one of my college journalism professors taught me – imagine you’re telling your mom, your best friend, or whoever you’re most comfortable with a story.
When you tell someone you know a story, it’s often more animated, natural, and conversational. Authentic business messaging is important in building brand trust and loyalty.
You know the whole picture-the-audience-in-their-underwear stage fright trick (which I never quite understood since that’s just as horrifying as speaking to a large crowd) – instead of doing that, imagine the person you’re most comfortable talking to as the camera lens.
The last few points have focused on being natural, so this one goes a little against that advice, but try smiling throughout the entire video even when you’re talking.
Give that a try right now. Did it feel a little silly and unnatural? Well, film yourself saying a few lines without smiling and then do the same thing while smiling. I’m sure you’ll notice a big difference in the overall mood of the video and your approachability as the on-camera talent.
4. Slow down
This is another piece of advice that goes against the whole “act natural” thing. And that’s because, most people tend to talk too fast on camera. Sometimes, that’s because the person is simply a fast talker. Other times, it’s a sign of nervousness.
Regardless of why you’re talking fast, just remember to slow it down.
Just like smiling throughout the entire video, slowing down your speech may feel unnatural, but it will make a big difference when you watch your video back. You don’t want your audience scrambling to keep up with your message.
5. Don’t be afraid to go off script
This can be a little bit of a double-edged sword, because you don’t want to go so off-script that your messaging gets lost or left behind.
However, if the script says “you would be right” but it’s more natural for you to say “you’d be exactly right” then go for it. Only you know how you talk.
Of course, this tip is dependent on the type of video you’re producing. If it’s a vlog, then the majority of your video is likely unscripted. If it’s a marketing video for your business, it’s important to check with the director on any changes you’d like to make ahead of time to keep the video’s messaging on track.
6. Break up your script into short sections
If your video is scripted, don’t try to read it all at once. Try reading one to two sentences at a time. This is especially helpful if you’re reading off a teleprompter and don’t have a lot of experience doing so.
If you take your script in short sections, it won’t seem so overwhelming. And who knows, maybe you’ll get more confident along the way and will be able to naturally read through more at a time.
7. Find a relaxing pre-filming ritual
Take some time to yourself before you hit record. This could mean taking 10 minutes to breathe or meditate – whatever it takes to clear your mind.
Worried about a deadline on another project? Leave it behind. Thinking about all the errands you need to complete after work? That can wait until later. Be present.
Like they say in the classic Adam Sandler movie “Happy Gilmore” – find your happy place.
8. Warm up your vocals
After you’ve found “your happy place,” it’s time to warm up your vocals. Sure, you may not be getting ready to sing opera on Broadway, however, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of waking up your vocal cords.
Think about when you first wake up in the morning and try talking for the first time. Do you sound groggy? Raspy? Do you have a tickle in your throat? You get the idea.
Besides waking up your vocals, you should also wake up your mouth (weird, I know). Stretch your mouth, vibrate and smack your lips, roll your r’s. Get those muscles activated.
9. Drink water
Those vocal cords are now cleared, so let’s keep it that way. Not only should you drink water ahead of filming but be sure to keep some water nearby during filming in case you get a tickle, or your mouth starts to get dry.
And last, but certainly not least, it’s important to practice. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be on camera. Overtime, you’ll hopefully be able to shake the on-camera jitters and bring a natural energy to the table.
Be sure to also practice the things that feel unnatural, such as smiling throughout the video and talking slower. If you don’t normally talk with your hands, practice doing so, so you don’t look stiff on screen. If you’ve never read off a teleprompter before, give it a try ahead of time.
In short, practice, practice, practice.
Being on-camera is scary, but hopefully these 10 tips and tricks will help you feel more comfortable when you’re staring down the barrel of a lens.
- Put yourself on camera
- Imagine you’re talking to a friend of family member
- Slow down
- Don’t be afraid to go off script
- Break up your script into short sections
- Find a relaxing pre-filming ritual
- Warm up your vocals
- Drink water
When you’re on-camera, try to find a balance between being “camera ready” and natural. As my co-worker and senior producer at VMG Studios Cyndi Butz-Houghton says, “Don’t be afraid of your personality.” Let it shine and soon enough you’ll look like a pro in front of the camera.
Click the image below for a free downloadable infographic on how to look great on-camera
- Arachnophobia – the fear of spiders
- Ophidiophobia – the fear of snakes
- Acrophobia – the fear of heights
- Agoraphobia – the fear of open or crowded spaces
- Cynophobia – the fear of dogs
- Astraphobia – the fear of thunder/lightning
- Claustrophobia – the fear of small spaces
- Mysophobia – the fear of germs
- Aerophobia – the fear of flying
- Trypophobia – the fear of holes.
In case you’re wondering, glossophobia comes in at number 13.