How to be Comfortable on Camera
So you’ve decided to finally take a stab at this whole “video” thing. But there’s just one problem – you’ve never been on camera before. Or maybe you are simply not comfortable on camera. You equate it to getting up on stage in front of your friends and peers and looking like a fool. Now you’re starting to nosedive.
Take a few deep breaths. We know that being on camera isn’t for everybody. Some are able to be complete naturals while others may need a little more TLC to get things started. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be the next big movie start (unless you want to be). In this blog post, we’re going to give you some very helpful tips on how to be more comfortable on camera.
A Little Science
One of the main objections we face about people not being comfortable on camera is that they don’t like the sound of their voice. They say something to the effect of, “Ughh my voice sounds weird on recordings.” And we assure our clients that they sound totally fine, but there is a little bit of science here to help explain this phenomenon.
We hear our own voice two different ways. As the BBC puts it, the first way is by sound waves hitting your eardrums. The second way is by vibrations inside your skull caused by your vocal cords. As these vibrations travel through your bones, the sound you end up hearing give you a false sense of bass. Why? Having to travel through bone causes these vibrations to spread out and become altered.
Okay, so what does this mean? When you start to talk, the sound you hear is at a slightly lower pitch because the vibrations are coming from inside your head. When you hear your voice on a recording, you’re picking up vibrations the way other people do. To everyone else, you sound natural. But to yourself, you sound a little more high-pitched. TLDR – don’t worry, you sound fine 🙂 Now, onto the tips!
Don’t Break Your Normal Routine
First on the list is something that goes back to when you were in high school and had a big exam coming off. Teachers would often tell you to not break your normal routine. Apply that same principle here and you’re golden.
If it’s your first time recording a video and you are not comfortable on camera, walking into a studio or onto a set can be intimidating. Before you get there, make sure to go about your business as usual. Don’t skip breakfast. Drink your coffee. Remember to brush your teeth. If you shower in the morning on a regular basis, then do that. The take away with this tip is that you want to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible. The camera won’t bite you, nor will the production crew.
One thing to note here – try not to over-do it with makeup. Again, if applying makeup is part of your morning routine, that’s fine. Keep at it. Depending on the scale of your video shoot, you may or may not have a makeup artist. If you do, their main objective should be to just smooth things out. They won’t apply a ton of stuff to your face. But, you don’t need a makeup department to shoot a video (we’re not discrediting what they do, because they are a phenomenal asset). Instead, just having those oil-absorbing pads work well. They just help make your skin not super shiny. But before you start recording, someone will be there to give you a second opinion.
Body Language is Important
Your body language can have a great impact on how a conversation turns out. If you slouch and break eye contact, it can signify that you may not be interested. Conversely, if you stand up straight (or as straight as you can) and keep eye content, it shows that you really care about what’s being said.
You can take this and apply it to your on-camera presence. Do your best to make eye contact with the camera and try to stand up straight. Some natural movement is fine here. However, avoid swaying back and forth a lot of bouncing up and down. Too much movement in your shot can cause your audience to feel uncomfortable if you keep swaying left to right.
It’s Just Like Having a Conversation
Let’s say you’re about to go shoot some talking head videos. These are super simple to produce. Usually, with these videos, you’ll be giving some sort of testimonial or talking about some aspect of your business. And guess what? You already do this on a daily basis and you’re a badass at it.
Ignore the camera, microphone, and lights for a second. When you’re doing your job, you most likely can talk about the various aspects of your business for days. If you’re having a conversation with someone, things flow naturally. Treat being on camera just like you would talking to an everyday person. The camera might not be able to speak, but talk to the camera about your business like you would anyone else. Being comfortable on camera is that simple.
It’s totally fine to use something like a teleprompter or having talking points you’d like to cover. Most people who are comfortable on camera do those things already. Don’t try to speak in a way you normally don’t. Don’t force yourself to say things that sound unnatural. You may not be perfect your first take, but that’s totally fine. A few read-throughs won’t hurt anyone. We started creating videos with everyone in the office so we could help provide more insider knowledge to our clients.
If you’re going to use a teleprompter, we’d recommend breaking things up into smaller chunks. Think something like bite-sized chunks of knowledge that have natural stopping points. Instead of having to memorize or read long chunks of text without stopping, this will allow you to deliver your content at a pace that is natural for you. Just like conversations with people have natural breaks, your delivery to the camera can be the same.
The Crew is There to Help You
Unless you’re on some prank show, the people behind the camera are there to help you. Speaking from experience, when our clients succeed, we succeed. Therefore, when we work on videos, we like to provide appropriate feedback to the talent on camera. It pays dividens for everyone if you are comfortable on camera.
Sticking with our taking head video example, we would never want anyone to say something that isn’t true. Lying is bad… don’t do that. Often times when recording, we will ensure the talent is as comfortable as possible. We do that by making sure they look as polished as can be. No stray hairs, no mustard stains on their shirts, no veggies in their teeth… things like that.
Do you need a water? We got it. Want a cup of coffee? We’ll go make you one. The crew is there to ensure that the best video product can be created.
Practice makes perfect. Not everyone has media training and not everyone wants to be on camera. Not everyone is comfortable on camera. You’re a human being and that’s totally fine. However, when you do have to be on camera for a marketing video, it’s not the end of the world. Just relax and be natural. The crew is there to help you. It’s their job to make sure you look and sound your best.
We hope these tips were helpful to you. The more you’re on camera, the easier it gets. But not breaking your normal routine and treating a talking head video like a conversation is a great way to stay cool and comfortable in front of the camera.
Neil K Carroll
I was your average small-town video guy, but when the pandemic hit, everything changed.
I ran a traditional video production agency with exclusively local clientele, a downtown studio, and a busy schedule. My days were long, travel frequent, and life as I knew it revolved around producing video content for my clients.
Then everything changed. Schools and daycares closed, my professional life was disrupted, and I found myself navigating a new path. It was one of uncertainty, with no end in sight and no destination obvious, but it demanded flexibility and resilience.
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