“Help, I’m Camera Shy!”
- Keri Vandongen
I used to be camera shy, and I got over it by accident.
The kids I worked with were not improving enough by only attending speech therapy sessions. Home practice was a battle. Teachers and friends couldn’t understand what the kids said.
So I spent an entire summer learning how to create and appear in videos. The kids were enticed to practice speech by taking turns talking with my virtual video persona.
The impact was larger than I expected.
Young kids connected with my video image. They couldn’t tell the difference practicing with me in-person versus over a computer screen. Some of them found it easier to watch my computer image face. Parents appreciated that I simulated joining in speech practice sessions. They were more willing to fit practice in at home.
How did videotaping for an audience of children help boost my video confidence?
Kids didn’t judge how I looked or criticized how I spoke on camera.
Neither did their parents (my clients), nor my family, friends, teachers, and professional colleagues. I didn’t create my videos for them. I certainly didn’t create videos for anyone to judge or harshly criticize.
My intention for appearing on videos was to help kids out with their speech. This proved stronger than my on-camera fears.
Similarly, instead of bringing up complications and focusing on your fears about being in front of the camera, it may help to review your goals and intentions:
- Who needs or would really benefit from watching you on video?
- What would be easier to demonstrate or explain on camera?
- Why do you want to connect with those people and earn their trust?
When those are clear, you can try these five techniques for increasing your camera confidence and connecting with your viewers:
1. Engage the Viewers in a Dialogue
Think of how you feel when someone talks at you.
Compare your reaction when someone communicates with you.
They hold your gaze, have a dialogue, and wait expectantly for your response through their pauses and facial expressions.
Similar to in-person conversations, viewers also appreciate it when you communicate with them.
Visualize having a lively conversation, not a one-way communication, while recording your videos.
You speak. Then entice your viewers to react, feel an emotion, or perform an action.
Use your facial expressions, pauses, and body language so viewers feel included in your dialogue, instead of watching you recite a monolog.
Doing this in your videos helps your viewers understand, follow, and connect with you.
Punctuating your recorded speech helps your viewers understand, follow, and connect with you.
- Add pauses to allow viewers extra time for taking in and processing information.
- Vary how you speak to make your video more interesting to watch.
- Let your emotions come through your descriptions, facial expressions, and body language. This helps viewers feel those emotions too.
By recording video as two-way communication, you’ll tune into your viewers’ perspective. Viewers feel included in your videos. They’ll reciprocate how you made them feel by responding.
2. Receive Video Feedback
Have you ever received feedback on your videos?
If you’re not comfortable speaking on-camera, your brain knows. Thus, you won’t speak as well as you do during a casual conversation.
Getting feedback helps you know how your message was understood, how it came across, and how you can improve.
Because people can be overly critical without considering your feelings, learn from how Toastmasters welcomes evaluations.
Toastmasters International members promise to provide valuable evaluations with compassion. Their commitments include: “I promise to provide fellow members with helpful, constructive evaluations,” and “I promise to help the club maintain the positive, friendly environment necessary for all members to learn and grow.”
Having a trusted evaluator improves how you speak and sound on video. Try the following:
- Invite a trusted evaluator to accompany you when you shoot your videos. Choose someone who’s observant and compassionate. Your evaluator’s presence can bring up energy levels in your voice, mood, and body language. They can also make it easier for you to imagine yourself having a lively, passionate conversation with your viewer.
- If an evaluator isn’t available while you’re filming, share a recording instead.
- Ask your evaluator to first point out strengths. Hearing positive feedback pumps your video confidence. You’ll know what you can do more of in future videos.
- Ask the evaluator to give 3 suggestions—maximum—for improvement. Each suggestion should have a massive impact on how you’re communicating on camera. Even if you make only one change in the future, it will make a difference.
- Trust this feedback and dampen your own inner critic. Initially, you may not live up to your expectations, especially if you’re comparing yourself to experienced video marketers, public speakers, or actors.
Getting feedback helps you find your communication blind spots. Keep an open mind and you’ll continually improve your camera presence and confidence.
3. Keep Your Energy High
Think about the people you enjoy listening to and learning from. In all likelihood, their energy level is high when they speak. They direct this energy towards their audience, who experience a mood lift.
“Keep your energy and speech moving forward. Never let the energy drop,” advises Michael Port, author of Book Yourself Solid.
Just like public speakers, you will also benefit from an energy-inducing warm up:
- Just before taping, do something energizing.
Have an adrenaline-lifting beverage or snack. Dance, sing, or listen to your favorite dance music.
- Stand up to videotape.
You’ll have more energy and lung power for speaking and projecting.
- Do this 3-part warm-up:
- Do something fun. Tell a joke, simulate impressions of people, pose like a supermodel, dance freestyle, or make crazy faces.
- Wake up your voice. Go from a low pitch to a high pitch to a neutral sound. Get loud, then quiet, then in-between. Rushwhilespeaking – pause. T-a-l-k—s-l-o-w-l-y. Pause. Sound emotional (angry, sad, happy, surprised).
- Narrate your video outline.
- When you feel ready and energized, switch on your video camera.
Having a high energy level is captivating on camera and gratifying to watch.
4. Keep the Camera Rolling Even through Mistakes
If you find video-recording time-consuming, you’ll find this approach will shave minutes of video production time.
Marcus Sheridan of Sales Lion trains his video clients to keep the camera rolling until completing a video. This means you keep recording through your mistakes.
“When we know we can start over our brain then focuses on our mistakes, or the potential to make mistakes,” Sheridan says.
He also recommends doing two or three video takes and choosing the best one for the final video. You’ll probably get better with each take.
Instead of stopping after a mistake, choose one of these options:
- After making a mistake, hold up a blank card or do a funky gesture to mark the error, then repeat the part where you messed up. The card or gesture alerts you or your editor to delete the previous video footage.
- Leave minor mishaps, including mispronunciations in. Shift into improv. Make a quick and light reference to your error and move on. For example, say, “See… it’s worth paying attention! You can catch me trip over my words.”
- If you repeat your video recording, use one of the above 3-part warmups. Then flash the video card and continue.
Dana Goldstein of Chicflicks calmly keeps going after forgetting what she was saying. She’s even posted out-takes from her videos, allowing viewers to see multiple sides of personality:
Viewers will consider you more approachable and bond better with you when you leave small mistakes in your videos. They can better relate to and connect with you. They trust that you’re being yourself.
“You’re trying to develop presence to connect with and inspire others. You want to build trust and credibility, and be clear and energetic,” says Kristi Hedge in her Forbes post on communicating authentically from your true inner self.
5. Use a 3-Part Video Outline
You may wonder why an outline is better than either writing a script or going completely impromptu.
Radio and TV advertisements come from a script. Do they sound authentic or appealing?
Impromptu videos can be full of personality and authenticity, but they’re also hard to pull off. You’ll be planning your message, trying to be coherent, while at the same time forming thoughts into language.
Impromptu videos can be full of personality, but they’re also hard to pull off.
Guess how much cerebral power is left for focusing on your speaking style?
Working from an outline, on the other hand, balances spontaneity with cohesiveness. Here’s a 5-minute video outline you can use:
- Strong opening to capture attention
Begin with an intriguing question, fascinating fact, or interesting story that relates to your topic.
- Three main points that support one topic idea
Include supportive material, such as sub-points, statistics, facts, quotes, examples, and visuals.
- Powerful conclusion
Review or summarize all main points, then end with a call to action that motivates action.
Bonus Tip: Feeling more advanced?
Add transitions between your main sections to make it easier to follow your video. To entice viewers to keep watching, include a “hook” or teaser for what’s coming up they won’t want to miss.
Using an outline makes it easier for viewers to track your thoughts. It also increases your confidence when you know exactly what points you’re going to cover and in what order. You’ll avoid repeating yourself, using filler words (so, um, uh, yeah), and going off-tangent.
Ready to Get Camera Confident?
Whatever your goals for using online video, your shyness and lack of confidence when facing the camera can present an obstacle.
Focus on your intention, on the difference you want to make in your viewers’ lives.
And use the tips in this post to help overcome feeling self-conscious and awkward when a camera is pointed at you. Remember, this is not about you; it’s about your viewers.
How do you feel when you’re making online videos? What helps you to get more relaxed, confident, and spontaneous?
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