How to survive in front of a camera

By 16th December 2019 No Comments
get in front of camera

As film becomes more common in content marketing, the likelihood that you will be asked to step in front of a camera increases. At least if you have some valuable knowledge or insights that your customers may want to share. Some people love to get in front of a camera. If you’re one of them, you may stop reading here. Many people, however, find this situation very awkward. Here are some tips on how to make you feel better about it and do a better job too.

It goes without saying that preparing what to say is key. This is something that you probably will do together with the production team. If someone will interview you, you can get the questions in advance. Prepare your answers carefully. Write a script. Read it out loud several times. Have someone listen to you and get feedback: Does it make sense? What is unnecessary and can be left out?

But let’s assume the content of the presentation is perfectly under control and well-rehearsed. Then comes the question of how to present it, which is really the topic of this blog post.

Prepare how to say it

The message your body language sends is just as important as your verbal message. Your volume, tone of voice, eye contact, facial expression and stance will all have an impact on your message. You’re constantly communicating with your body language. Nervous habits, such as fidgeting, shifting from one foot to the other, touching your face, playing with your hair are all distracting and send a message whether you’re aware of it or not.

Practice in front of a mirror. It will feel ridiculous, but it’s extremely helpful and every new attempt will, hopefully, feel a bit less awkward. If you can have someone film you, for instance with a cell phone, it’s even better.

Looking into the concept of high and low status, which comes from the world of improvisation theatre, can give several insights. In this context, status is not about money or career, but about whether you appear trustworthy, confident and at ease.

High status is good if you want to convince or enthuse someone (on the theatre stage, your part may call for a low status behaviour, though). But if you overdo the high status behaviour, you may appear intimidating and dominant. Some of the advice below is based on this concept, which is also used in business management, psychotherapy and many other contexts.

Energise the viewers

If you want to convince someone that what you’re saying is important and interesting, you must let it show that you find it important and interesting by adding a lot of energy to your voice, face and body language. Try to overdo it completely when you practice and have someone tell you when you have gone completely overboard. (I promise you it will take a lot longer than you think before that happens!)

Speak slowly

Energising does not mean speaking fast. On the contrary. Most people speak way too fast when they are in front of a camera, especially if they get a little nervous. Slow down to half of your original pace. Not only will people hear what you say, they will also be more likely to believe what you say.

Make pauses

In a written text, there’s a full stop after each sentence. Put a “full stop” i.e. a short pause after each sentence when you speak too. The viewer needs to get a moment to digest what you just said. In addition, you make it easier for the film editor to cut the film if there are some natural breaks.

Use gestures

It’s okay to use gestures! If it comes naturally for you to use your hands, you should do that in front of the camera too. It’s a good way of emphasising important words and projecting your message.

Don’t put your hands in your pockets or make yourself freeze.

Slow down your moves

However, the same thing goes for gestures as for words: Make them slow! Quick, jerky movements will make you seem nervous and will take away the attention from what you are saying.

Move slower than you think, and you will make much more impact.

Give your clothes some thought

Wear clothes that you like and feel comfortable in! Of course. If you feel comfortable with what you’re wearing, it will show.

Some people tend to perspire when they are very focused or stressed. In addition, camera lights may be hot. Clothes like white shirts may show off stains way too well.

Avoid clothes with narrow stripes since they seem to flicker on film.

Colours on shirts that are very similar to your skin tone don’t look so great on film either.

Don’t be too serious

A smile now and then can help you connect with the audience. Unless your topic calls for gravity, don’t take yourself too seriously.

Be yourself

You were asked to be in that film because you are you, and because you have something interesting to share. So, there is no need to try to be something that you are not.

Don’t worry so much

If you get entangled in your words and everything comes out wrong – just start over. The film editor will pick the best parts. Take a deep breath and make a fresh start.

If you follow this advice, at least some of it, I’m sure that you’ll not only survive your minutes in the spotlight but also do an amazing job.

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