Career Advice: How to Be Comfortable in Front of the Camera

COLOURBOX9339043Being comfortable in front of the camera only used to matter to those who were planning on pursuing careers in television and film. The proliferation of online video as a marketing tool has changed this, making camera skills a requirement for practically everyone in the business world today. Even if you’re not vlogging or turning out videos touting your own company’s services, you may be attending an event or conference where you have an opportunity to be interviewed. Don’t let those butterflies cause you to pass up the opportunity to highlight your expertise to a wider audience! Here are a few tips on how to shine when the record button is on.

Practice Makes Perfect

One of the easiest ways to become more comfortable in front of the camera is to spend as much time there as possible. You don’t need fancy equipment – if you’ve got a smartphone, tablet or webcam, that’s all you need! Dedicate a few minutes every day to recording. Watch the videos with a critical yet kind eye. Remember that you’re doing this to grow and learn, and don’t expect to be perfect from the beginning. Over time, you’ll get more relaxed with the process simply by doing it over and over again.

Exercise

Congratulations! You’ve committed to becoming more comfortable on camera and investing the time to make it happen. But you’re not sure what to say once you turn on the video app on your phone. The Social Advisor has a few suggestions to make the process fun. Some of these can be done on your own; others require a partner in crime.

  • The Ramble: Do a book review, a movie review or a recap of your day. The point is to talk about something tangible, something you know and/or something you have experienced.
  • The Documentary: Find a partner and put on your cinema verité hat: film one another doing daily tasks without interruption. Eventually you’ll become so comfortable in front of the silent observer that you’ll forget the camera is even there! After half an hour, switch places and record your friend.
  • The Commercial: Pick an object in your office or home and prepare a 60 second commercial about why it’s “the best” pencil, copier, coffee cup, etc. The more ridiculous the better!

Don’t Forget to Breathe

If you are self-recording, take a moment to ground yourself before you begin. When you first turn on the camera, let it run for a moment and take a deep breath. Let it out slowly, and then begin when you are ready. There can be the temptation to rush into delivering your message because of the preconceived idea that if you know what you’re talking about, you should be able to speak about it quickly, spitting out a bunch of facts and opinions. The opposite is actually true – the more relaxed you are in your delivery, the easier it is for the audience to understand you and the more impact your message will have.

It’s Not About You, It’s About Your Information

Some people are uncomfortable while being put on tape because they get self-conscious about the way they look. We’ve all got things about our external appearance that concern us. But when someone watches you on YouTube or your website for business purposes, how you look isn’t usually their prime concern – it’s the information you have to share. Focus on the value of your message, and others will, too.

Name That Camera

Talking to an inanimate object is difficult. Instead, pretend you’re talking to a friend or your ideal client. Being specific about who you are talking to will help your delivery, as well as take your attention off yourself, which will result in making you less self-conscious. To see this in action, try recording yourself once without having anyone particular in mind. Then repeat the same text while imagining talking to someone you know. Watch both versions, and you’ll see what a difference this adjustment can make.

Know Your Script

If you’re going to be taping a scripted message, make sure to set aside the time to practice. Writing for video is a distinct experience from writing for print because the ear hears things differently than the eye sees them. Therefore, the language of a video script may not be what you are used to, so take some time to get comfortable with it. Read it out loud several times. Try looking at your paper less and less each time. The reason for doing this is not for memorization purposes (this may or may not be necessary, depending on your project, and can be handled in a variety of ways), but to familiarize yourself with the main points of your script. If there are sections you find yourself stumbling over, practice slowing down your delivery. You can even try a few tongue twisters such as “Unique New York.” For a more, check out these Top 20 Tongue Twisters.

Technical tips

  • Where do I look? If talking to a reporter, make eye contact, talk to them and be conversational. If talking to a group, look directly at the camera. And when in doubt, ask the person behind the camera.
  • Treat a microphone like it’s always on or “live.” We’ve all seen what happens when someone doesn’t know they are being recorded and say things that perhaps should remain private. If you’re near a camera, assume it’s on.

Emma

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