Are you camera shy? You’re not alone.
I recently did a poll among my Instagram followers to see if they were comfortable in front of a camera. Unsurprisingly, 90 per cent said no. Many of the respondents were fellow bloggers and that got me thinking. Being camera shy in a digital world can become a serious setback, especially if you are trying to establish an online presence.
While there are some people out there who look like they were born to be on video, most of us, including me, find it difficult to be in front of a camera. It’s not something that feels natural and can actually be stress inducing. So why bother?
Since focusing on writing content and promoting my blog has been my priority, I haven’t really thought that much about incorporating video until I started to refocus my business plan and realized I was missing a huge opportunity.
Instagram stories, especially the ones during travel, create a lot of questions and feedback from my followers. They ask about the places I visit, offer suggestions and ask for advice. Some of them even provide feedback about my posts and ask for notifications about new ones. They like to know about the things in my life that I share with them and are supportive of the trials and tribulations of my life. These stories often generate a lot more interaction than my posts. Video is definitely where my audience prefers to interact with me.
As bloggers, we are expected to create content that our audiences are looking for. As video has been, is and will be the most consumed medium out there, it’s only natural to incorporate it into our content. Give your audiences what they want. Part of that means that we also have to stop being camera shy. While this might be easier said than done, you too can become comfortable on camera to a point where you’ll actually enjoy it.
Identify what makes you camera shy
Most people hate seeing themselves on video and the idea of being in front of a camera can be stress inducing. The two main reason for being camera shy are: a) hating the way we look and b) the way we sound. The way our bodies react to the stress when we are in uncomfortable situations, is the reason we don’t feel comfortable on camera.
We might freeze up and that makes us look uncomfortable. Not having experience with recording videos also contributes to awkwardness. Stress makes our voice change modulation, which is a reason why we sound unnatural. Identifying what those issues are allows you to correct them.
A lot of us have nervous ticks that become a lot more pronounced on video. Cringe inducing even. As much as we hate watching ourselves, that’s the only way to identify what those ticks are and address them. Those can include repetitive facial expressions, such as excessive blinking, flaring nostrils, wiggling eyebrows or clearing our throat.
It wasn’t until I started to do videos that I noticed my tendency to speak with the left side of my mouth. This makes my face look crooked and distracts me from everything else. Looking away from the camera, almost as if I was rolling my eyes was also an issue.
After seeing myself on video, I realized how it looked. While it didn’t seem to bother others as much as it did me, it was impeding my ability to deliver the message. While it still happens occasionally, I am much more attune to how I speak. It has really improved my delivery.
The sound of your voice
We hear ourselves all the time, but when it comes to hearing a recording of our voice makes us cringe. There is that stress again. We might start saying filler words such as “like,” “uh” or “ah” all the time and those words are distracting to everyone else.
Does being nervous change the pitch of your voice? You might sound breathy, squeaky or out of breath, which in turn makes you nervous even more. It makes the audience uncomfortable and the message is lost.
I used to speak very fast to the point that my dad used to make me repeat things numerous times to slow me down. It was annoying and frustrating at the time. When I first started to do videos, I would catch myself speaking fast to a point where I would start cutting words out because my brain was working faster than my mouth. Some of it was stress induced and definitely had an effect on how I sounded on video.
I also happen to have an accent. This used to make me so self-conscious to a point where I could barely speak in front of people, not to mention doing videos. Many people out there have accents and are self-conscious about them. That prevents them from venturing into doing videos. What I’ve learned is that people don’t really care about your accent. They care more about what you are saying. That has also helped me become more comfortable speaking on camera.
How you look
We all have mirrors, yet we hate the way we look on video. It’s natural to focus on the negatives, perceived or real, and blow them out of proportion. Identify what is it that you hate and what you can do to fix it. Some things are an easy fix while others are not. While you can adjust your hair with few quick fixes, you can’t change your nose the same way. However, you can fix what you see as flaws with few easy adjustments.
I have a cowlick that prevents me from having perfectly even hair. One side of the hair around my forehead has a mind of its own and refuses to cooperate. Again, this bothers me more than it bothers others, but it was a reason I felt uncomfortable on video.
It’s not a quick fix, but if I know I will be filming, I make sure that flat iron and hair spray are involved. Not a huge issue, but one less thing to think about. When I’m not planning of filming and just happen to do some quick Insta-stories, I just angle my head in a way that the cowlick is less distracting. It’s all about the angles.
10 ways to overcome being camera shy
Let’s look at 10 practical ways that will help you overcome being camera shy.
Become BFF with your phone camera
Video is no longer an inaccessible tool. Today, our phones are cable of producing high quality images and videos. You no longer have an excuse for being camera shy.
The best way to get comfortable being on camera is to get in front of it and practice. It’s your phone, your video and nobody else needs to see it. This means you can experiment with filming yourself and getting comfortable with seeing yourself on video.
Again, understanding what you dislike about being in front of a camera will help you identify what you need to correct. You might even surprise yourself and find things you like (even love!) about being on video.
We have a tendency to look at the phone scree while doing a video. That’s a major mistake. Your phone camera in above the screen, on top of the phone. By looking at the screen and you are in fact looking down. This sometimes gives your eyes that weird angle which makes you hate the way you look.
Camera angle is key. Looking directly into the camera stops you from looking at the screen and analyzing yourself. When you are facing the camera correctly, you are focusing on what you want to say and your audience will feel like you’re talking to them not yourself.
Dress for success
There is nothing wrong with going au naturel, but if that doesn’t make you feel so hot, put some effort into it and see if that makes a difference. Most people are camera shy because they hate the way the look. Think about what you dislike about your appearance.
Practice recording your videos when you don’t feel great and on days when you feel fabulous. Does the way you feel that particular day affect the way you look on camera? Simple things like doing your hair and makeup or putting on your favourite outfit can totally transform how you feel about your appearance. Are you in a positive state of mind or are you nervous about doing the video. Do it anyway.
I always feel better and more confident in my videos when I put effort into my appearance. Most of the time I roll out of bed with my hair in a messy bun. Since I usually work late into the night, it takes me a while to get up and get going. Could I still do the video looking like I just rolled out of bed? Sure, but like everything else I do, I like to put effort into my work and in this case, my appearance becomes part of that. I like to wear clothes that are comfortable and don’t make me look washed out. It makes me feel better about being in front of a camera.
You might find that your audience doesn’t care how you look. That’s not the point. You want to make sure you look your best to feel more comfortable doing the videos. Once you become a pro and can produce videos like Beyoncé no matter how you look all the power to you.
Set the stage
In the early stages, video yourself everywhere. On your couch, in the kitchen, outside or even in your car (when you’re not driving). It will give you a better sense of how you look in different settings. You will also get an idea of what light works best for you and what acoustics help you feel better about the way you sound.
The reality is that your viewers might automatically assume that your content won’t be of quality if your video isn’t. So make sure you cover the basics even while practicing
Lighting is one of the most important elements of a good video. Sound is another.
Proper lighting will improve the quality of your video while proper sound will improve your confidence. Quite often, when we don’t like the sound of our voice is because we are not projecting it properly. Speak to the camera with light (preferably natural one) facing you. It will make you look better and feel more confident.
Projecting your voice will help you train your voice. Even professional singers practice warming up their vocal cords before a performance. Do the same before you video. It will loosen up your vocal cords and make your voice stronger. Good-bye squeaky, raspy voice.
Does your background affect how you feel about being on camera? While you’re practicing, it doesn’t matter what is behind you. Focus on you first until you are comfortable. Once you start doing videos to share with your audience (vlogs, courses, etc.) you need to make sure your background isn’t distracting from your message. A TV playing in the background, your kids or pets running around or even a window can become a distraction. Aim for neutral backgrounds that won’t take the focus away from you.
At the beginning, it doesn’t matter what you say on your videos. Read the ingredients on food items, describe what you see, or sing your heart out. Being silly puts you at ease so you stop looking uncomfortable. It also gets you used to being on camera, forcing you to overcome being camera shy.
Figure out what you want to say. Identify why you are doing the video and what message do you have for your audience. I often make notes with what I want to say. They keep my focused and make sure I don’t miss any of the important points. You can easily place sticky notes that only you can see to keep yourself on tack.
Aim for conversational delivery. It is more natural than reading a scrip word for word.
Impromptu videos are the best way to getting comfortable being on camera, but there are times when planning is necessary. If you are very nervous about doing videos, even for practice, schedule a time when you will do them. Mark it on your calendar. Figure out where you will be filming and what you will say as well as what you want to wear.
Often marking your space with tape on the floor allows you to keep a mental check of where you have to be to stay in frame. This is important for doing demos or reviews of products you want to show. You don’t want to block the view with your back or worse, your hands.
If you’re doing videos outside, for example in a popular spot with many other visitors, make sure you are not in the way. You don’t want people walking between you and the camera or walking into your shot as you’re recording. This might make you even more nervous and lose train of thought.
Once you become comfortable in front of a camera, the people around you will become part of the background. Until then, you don’t need another issue to deal with.
Relax and remove tension
Performance anxiety is real, even if it’s just us in front of a camera with nobody around. It’s the lead up and all the things that can go wrong that make us anxious. Different people have different methods for relaxing and releasing pent up nervousness before they video.
Some people do physical activity like yoga, running or dancing while others sing, meditate or scream. Others might eat something that makes you feel good before they go in front of a camera. Pick whatever you feel will help you get comfortable.
However, I don’t recommend using alcohol as it might impair your judgement and performance. Being intoxicated on video is not a good business practice so you should avoid it even while training to overcome being camera shy.
Limit all distractions
Distractions are a way to make us feel less comfortable, but are also a way to make up excuses. If you’re dreading to press the record button, you might start checking social media, responding to those emails that for some reason need your attention at that moment, or even text your friends or family. Just stop.
If there is noise outside, close the window or move to a different area. Turn off notifications on your phone so you don’t get distracted. Go to the bathroom ahead of time or have that glass of water handy so you don’t have an excuse not to film.
Film in sections
It’s natural to lose your train of thought or mix up what you want to say. You don’t have to record everything all at once. Quite often, I film in segments. I repeat the same point multiple times while the camera records and pause before each new take. This allows me to keep the same content together and pick the best version to use. The pauses help me recompose myself and make it easy to edit scenes when I’m putting the video together.
At the same time, you don’t want to go through an hour of footage to select best scenes. Film each new idea as a separate video. It makes editing faster and less onerous.
Ask a friend to help
If you’re camera shy, it might feel easier not to have anyone around. That’s not always the case. Having a friend or a family member with you can help with morale. They can hold up speaking notes for you to read off, assist with props and help maneuver the camera.
If you feel more comfortable not seeing yourself on screen, having someone else around comes in very handy. They can provide you with direction on where to move and ensure the camera focuses on you so you don’t have to worry about it. They can also offer reassurance and support.
Once you become more comfortable with being on camera, you might find it easier to do it alone. I prefer doing my videos when nobody else is around, because it helps me concentrate and I’m not distracted. However, when I started, I had assistance. It helped me recognise excessive use of repetitive words, set up the scene and ensure best camera angles.
Always make sure you are in a safe place when you are recording a video. As your focus is on the small camera on your phone, your awareness of your surroundings might diminish. Even if you’re at home, it’s easy to walk into things or trip over something on the floor. You definitely don’t want to hurt yourself.
When filming outside, you should always become familiar with where you are and limit your movement away from dangerous areas. Traffic, places with lots of people moving around or even physical obstacles like stairs, walls and curbs can become an issue. In these situations, it’s great to have someone with you so that they can keep an eye out for potential problems. Getting hurt, or worse, won’t do anyone any good.
Goodbye camera shy, hello video boss
You might argue that as a blogger you can be camera shy and still be successful. That is definitely true, but take into consideration the fact that audiences, including yours, prefer video content. Blogging is already a competitive area and there is a continuous demand to produce more content. This includes video.
While you can certainly produce video without ever appearing in front of the camera yourself, you know that the audience connects with you, the content creator. It definitely won’t hurt to get comfortable being on camera. In fact, it can add another layer of value add for your audience. You might even find that your potential clients will start asking for video content as part of the package. It adds value and versatility to your portfolio.
Are you already a video star? Let me know what tips and trick you use to turn from being camera shy into video boss.
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