Lights, Camera, Anxious!
For the purposes of this article, there are three kinds of people: There are people who aren’t reading this because they’re busy reading a script for their next Hollywood blockbuster or talk-show appearance; there are people who are reading this because they’re overcome with camera shyness; and there are people who used to be in the second group, but have accepted that while they’ll never win an Oscar, they’re going to do the best they can (best-case-scenario me).
If you’re reading this, you’re not in the first group.
You’ve got an on-camera presentation coming up, or your boss has asked you to give an on-camera interview, so where do you start? It’s completely natural to be stressed at the prospect, but hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll have more confidence in your own ability in front of the camera. I myself used to be in the second group. I’ve never liked the camera; I still don’t. But I’ve had to be in front of it enough times that I’ve developed a system to survive it. Not only do I survive it (usually), but given enough time and preparation, I’m fine with doing it again. In this article, I’m going to share some of my own tricks and some tips gathered from friendly sources, on how to conquer camera shyness.
It’s not the end of the world
Bottom line: Perfection is really hard to attain. Sarah Santico’s advice is to “embrace imperfection and get started”. It will take lots of practice and review before you perfect your system, but don’t scrutinize every detail. Joshywashington may have said it best by simply “give yourself permission to feel embarrassed, self-conscious… and get over it”. We are often our own largest obstacles. By removing your personal feelings from the equation, you can direct that focus to more important things. Important things like:
Expert videographer and camera coach Naomi Estment primarily works with helping women overcome their fear of the camera, but guys should take note too. If you’re shooting the video on Tuesday morning, is that an extra large burrito for Monday dinner a great decision? Consider the timing of your shoot and how it will work with your schedule. Having a light meal before shooting will “keep you light and nourished”, and help you avoid feeling that post-meal exhaustion.
Write a script
Personally, I feel much more comfortable once I’ve written a script. Coming from an acting background, I’m very used to rote memorization. However, once I’ve written one, I’ve been told (numerous times) that my delivery feels “too scripted”. Well of course it should, I wrote a script! For a looser, off-the-cuff type presentation, True Focus Media recommends you “whittle down [your script] into your main bullet points”. This is so that no matter what you’ve said, you’ve maintained the idea behind your words. Sometimes, “passion and excitement is more important” than getting every detail out.
Dress for Success
One of the easiest tips to remember: If you like how you look, you’ll feel more comfortable with the idea of others seeing you. PSK, a Seattle-based creative agency, recommends “a comfortable outfit [keeping accessories] to a minimum”. This is so your accessories don’t distract from you as a speaker. Remember: You’re not Don Cherry. You’re wearing your outfit, not the other way around. You would also benefit by taking some time well in advance of the filming to figure out what you feel most comfortable in. Will it be a slacks-and-jacket type shoot, or will a polo shirt suffice? Confer with your colleagues about whether or not you’ll need to wear company colors as well. This is a critical step so you don’t show up to your shoot expected to rock a cherry-red logo with your navy blue suit.
Of course this is on everyone’s list, but it cannot be understated. Whether it’s lowering stress levels, enhancing your appearance, or increasing your trustworthiness, numerous studies link smiling with positive benefits. If you don’t think it works, watch any talk show. Watch any news interview. You’ll notice that you’re more apt to enjoy the interview if the speaker was (or appeared to be) happy.
Hopefully these tips have helped you through your fears of the camera. Don’t forget, it may take some time to be fully comfortable on the other side of the lens. If you find you’re still having difficulties, feel free to give us a call. We’d be happy to help you put your best face forward.