In this day and age, we keep finding ourselves in front of a camera.
As consumers get used to accessing information immediately from the comfort of their own homes, video interviews, social media videos and live-streamed speeches have become an irreplaceable part of every business’ communication.
As someone who’s worked in Hollywood and has done TV, commercials and film before becoming a full-time public speaker and speaking coach, I know first-hand just how powerful video is and I’ve seen the impact a great piece of visual content can have on people.
The thing is, speaking in front of a camera doesn’t come naturally to a lot of us – even if you’re a paid speaker and are used to speaking on stage in front of a large audience.
Thankfully, there’s nothing a little practice (and some easy to follow tips) can’t do.
Without much ado, here are a couple of suggestions on how to remain clear, calm, and engaging when communicating on camera.
HOW YOU LOOK
What you wear reflects who you are – according to scientific research, your wardrobe choices can largely affect your thought patterns and behaviour.
So, when preparing for an interview, or getting ready to shoot a video, make sure that you’re wearing comfortable clothes that match the subject and the purpose of your video.
For instance, if the video is business-related, wear the clothes you usually wear when attending a business meeting or speaking on stage.
If you’re making a spontaneous IGtv video, wear the clothes you would wear when hanging out with friends or on your “days off”.
Sit up straight
If you know a thing or two about body language, you know that your body posture plays a crucial role in how others perceive you.
Good posture projects confidence – if your posture is poor, on the other hand, viewers may think that you’re not confident or that you’ve lost interest.
So once you sit down in front of a camera, check your posture and release the tension in your upper body by pulling your shoulders back and down.
Use body language
As mentioned in the previous point, body language is crucial.
Keep your body open: face the camera, and gesture naturally, but don’t move too much – a lot of movement can distract your audience.
One great way to improve is to record yourself then watch it back and make adjustments.
Don’t be afraid to also ask what others think about the way you look on camera. Your friends or coworkers may be able to give you more tips.
It’s all in your eyes
When watching a video, viewers focus on your face, and especially your eyes.
Your eyes have the power to elicit reactions from your audience. If your eyes convey excitement, the audience will feel excited as well. If your eyes look serious, your audience will feel that the topic is serious as well.
So, when practicing in front of a mirror, pay attention to your facial expressions and focus on your eyes in particular. Try to avoid excessive blinking as well, as it can signal a lack of sincerity.
HOW YOU SOUND
Take a deep breath
Before you go live, take a deep breath.
This will help you calm down and breathe more naturally as you speak.
Continue to breathe easily when the camera’s on.
If you find yourself breathing or talking too quickly, take a break and continue once you’re back to normal.
Use your natural voice
It’s easier for people to act and sound natural when speaking to an interviewer or on stage to your audience. However, there are times when you will need to speak directly into the camera, and it is in these instances that people start “presenting” and it comes off as inauthentic.
When you have to record yourself speaking, imagine that you’re talking to a friend behind the lens.
That way, you will sound more natural and less scripted, and that’s exactly what people expect to hear.
Be yourself. The video should reflect who you are, and your viewers should be able to connect to you.
These are short, memorable sentences that people often remember long after they’ve turned off your video. If you take a moment to think of your favorite brands and speakers, you will remember specific things that they said that resonate with you. Think of your message and try to make it concise.
The more catchy the sentence, the better. Also, remember to opt for shorter sentences. Short sentences are both easier to say and easier to understand.
If it takes a long time for you to complete a sentence, it may be hard for the audience to understand what you’re trying to say. Eliminate filler words and sounds like “um”, “ah”, “you know”, and “like” – the same goes for speaking on stage as well.
Also, make sure that you don’t rush through your speech or answers. Talk fast enough to keep your audience interested, but slow enough to allow your audience to follow your ideas.
HOW TO PREPARE
Don’t let your mouth get dry
Dry mouth is the enemy of clear pronunciation.
There’s a reason why speakers have a glass of water nearby whenever having a television interview.
Get yourself a glass of water before you start recording or talking, and make sure that you keep your lips moist all the time.
Stay cool and if needed – take a break
Don’t just sit in front of the camera if you feel nervous, waiting for your anxiety to pass. Get up and do whatever makes you feel more relaxed. You could stretch, listen to music, or just stand in front of the mirror and talk yourself out of feeling nervous (try affirmations, they seriously help).
Practice all the time
You’ve heard the saying: “Practice makes perfect”.
Practice in front of the mirror at home, in front of a friend or just record yourself. Listen to how you sound, and notice how your narrative unfolds. Don’t forget to practice saying the words that you might find difficult to pronounce.
As you might have noticed by now, just like any other skill – being great on camera takes a lot of
Don’t be too hard on yourself – you don’t have to look or sound perfect. The audience will appreciate knowing you’re human, so stop overthinking it, and just do it!
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See you on the inside!