Okay, so like the rest of the world you've been forced to start delivering your training remotely, and whether you're doing that via Zoom or something similar, or you're prerecording things for people to watch at any time, you probably hate watching yourself and feel like you stink. Don't worry, that's natural. The good news is that you're not as bad as you think you are but I guarantee you, you can be better.
Let's start with a big truth, that many people either don't realize or don't admit, giving a presentation on camera is hard! Even if you're a seasoned and popular lecturer, to suddenly do the same thing with only a big glass eye, and a group of bored looking film crew as your audience can really throw you for a loop. Or even worse, if your only audience is your cat and your iPhone. The truth is that presenting to camera is a skill and like any skill it's going to take some learning and some practice to get good at it, but I'm here to help.
Over the coming weeks I'm going to be putting my experience as an actor and director to work for you and I'll be sharing a series of videos that will help you improve your on camera performance, but I wanted to share these tips as a little primer to prepare you.
1.Know what you’re talking about!
Not everyone has a teleprompter at their disposal and if you pin sticky notes up all around the camera your eyes are going to look shifty and that will impact your trustworthiness. If you’re delivering important information on camera you need to know it as well as you know your own name. Start by writing everything down, then distill it to your main bullet points, then memorize it. Memorize it so well that you can recite your bullet points out of order even. That’s when you’re ready to go.
2.Look good, feel good...AND SIT UP STRAIGHT!
This might seem trivial but wear clothes that you feel like you look good in, put on your favourite eyeliner or lip gloss. When you feel good about yourself, you project power. All of this can be defeated if you’re slouching on camera though, so listen to your mother and sit up straight, or stand.
3.Smile and speak naturally
You don’t need to crack an ear to ear grin like a deranged Joker but keeping a positive demeanour goes a long way to getting people to pay attention. So does speaking in your natural voice. This goes for both your tone, and volume. Don’t shout, don’t whisper, talk like you’re having a chat with someone across the living room.
4.Don’t rush and don’t worry about making mistakes
When you’re excited about something it’s natural to start going faster and louder. Stop yourself. If you feel like you’re going too slow, that’s probably about right. Also, know this; you’re going to stumble and make mistakes. Accept it, move on. Professional broadcasters with years of experience make little mistakes every time they’re on the air. They’ve learned to move on from them immediately and 99% of the time, no one even notices.
5.Address your speech to someone
You have to treat the camera as a person (or your pet if that’s easier), so talk to it like you would a pal or business associate. Don’t stare wide eyed into the camera. Smile, blink, breathe. It’ll make your viewer feel like they’re talking to a trusted friend, not a robot. You do have to look at the camera though, if your eyes are darting everywhere except the camera, you'll give the impression you don't know what you're talking about, which is probably not your desired effect.
This is an important time to remind yourself that you’re not a professional actor (probably) and you haven’t been trained physically to deliver paragraphs of text in one breath. So, use periods and commas to take a pause and a real breath and then move on. Much like speaking at a slower pace, this is going to feel weird, but it looks just fine on camera.
This sounds trivial and obvious, but have a drink of water right before your start. A well lubricated mouth and throat will keep you from getting frogs and coughing as you speak. It’ll help you speak articulately and you’ll just generally feel better. Just water though! Coffee, and black tea (especially if you put cream and sugar in them) gum up your vocal folds and create more problems than they solve. Don’t indulge in either of those for at least 30 minutes before you film yourself.
That's it. 7 easy (or not) steps to being better on camera. If you want to be notified when the video tutorials come out, sign up for our newsletter to receive updates.