5 Tips To Get Confident On-Camera

What is it about a camera and a microphone? These simple pieces of equipment can turn the most brilliant, articulate minds into frozen, stumbling stiffs on-camera.

I met with a CEO of well-known Dallas-area company and a marketing VP of a high-profile Dallas organization recently. Both individuals were wildly successful, smart and engaging beyond measure. Both had upcoming media appearances while the marketing VP was encouraged to start producing video blogs for her business.

They were paralyzed by the fear of going on-camera. We practiced a few times with an iPhone. Their warmth and natural senses of humor turned into....stilted...non-conversational....wordy prose. Their body language resembled a transformer robot.

It was awkward and undermined the credibility these two seasoned professionals possess.

Why You Need To Be Comfortable On-Camera
Video isn't going anywhere. Whether you're a teenage beauty blogger, a veteran CEO, a mid-career PR pro or a coach trying to market your business with webinars, there is an outstanding chance that you will be need to be on-camera at some point in your career. Video job interviews? Get used to them. The frequency of all of this will only increase.

Still dubious? Consider this:
Videos increase the understanding of a product or service by 74% (QuickSprout)

Video isn't just a great marketing tool. It's essential for your business.

There is no reason to fear the camera. With a few simples secrets and some practice, you can become comfortable in any on-camera setting. Ready to learn how? Let's get going.

"How Did You Get Comfortable On-Camera?!?" 
As a lifelong TV journalist, I am often asked this question. I have been talking on-camera for so long that I don't even think about it.

how to get more comfortable on-camera, how to get more comfortable speaking in front of a camera
During a live shot for Knoxville's WBIR-TV circa 1999.

But there was a time when I had that glazed look, stiff body language and big TV anchor hair. It's painful to watch those first tapes. But with a lot of work I got better (click HERE to see my television work). This leads me to the most important principle to help you get more comfortable on-camera:

1. Let's Talk About Practice
The number one secret to getting comfortable on camera is to practice. Then practice again. And again. You get the idea. There is no other way around it. Practice makes you more comfortable and helps you become more natural in your gestures and manner of speaking. It's an advantage television professionals have: they get the opportunity to practice and watch themselves every day.

The ubiquity of cameras makes it easy for you to practice. Take three minutes to record yourself talking on-camera in front of your smartphone or tablet. Do this a few times a week. Focus on one subject and discuss that topic: tell the story of a product launch, the reason a game is important or why your services are better than any other coach's. Stay on point and stay focused. It's harder than you think.

How to get more comfortable on-camera, video marketing
Is this perhaps too comfortable on-camera? While I am demonstrating a point in this shot, this is the type of body language you typically want to avoid. 

Once you have recorded yourself, watch yourself. This can be excruciating the first few times you do it. Notice your gestures, the way you talk and how you look. All of these factor into your credibility on-camera. Are you moving your hands too much or rocking back and forth? These are authority underminers. Does your hair cover your face? This is an issue I have, much to the ire of my bosses and viewers. If they can't see your face, why be on-camera? Is your voice breathless? Do you talk in sing-song fashion? Do you have an icy cold glaze when you address the camera? Do you have crutch phrases?

The answers to all these questions might surprise you. I used to say "Let's be honest" on-camera to the point of annoyance. The thing is, I rarely say this in person and I didn't even know I was saying it so often that it drove viewers crazy. You might have the same issue and not even know it.

All of these are issues that can be fixed...with practice.

Once you have practiced the first time. Keep doing it, over and over and over again.

2. The Camera Is Your Friend
Don't think of the camera as a piece of equipment. Think of it as a person in the room. Someone you love. You wouldn't approach that person with a frozen, tense face would you? No. You would approach that person with a warmth and genuine expression of delight.

Michael Hyatt's video blog is an ideal example of someone who considers the camera his friend. Notice his face: he exudes authoritative warmth. 

While a camera, smartphone or tablet is a piece of equipment it's also a conduit between you and your viewers. It's your audience's method of watching you. They don't see a camera when they watch you. They see you. To that end, you have to consider that you are talking to people: friends, family, clients and colleagues, not a piece of equipment.

When you consider the camera a person instead of a piece of equipment you will experience a mindset shift that makes you approach the camera with geniality that your viewers can sense.

how to get comfortable on-camera, RoughRiders Live, livestream broadcasts
Hosting an episode of RoughRiders Live for the Frisco RoughRiders

This can be particularly difficult when you're talking to a webcam for a webinar. Many times you're the only person in the room and that isolation comes across on-camera. Don't let it. Again, the camera is a friend. Treat it like one.

3. Be Conversational...Remember You're Talking
Too many first-timers on-camera prepare a message or try to memorize a script (another no-no) full of superfluous words. Even the most nuanced and scientific message can be explained with simple, easy-to-understand language.

Your on-camera messaging is not the same as a blog post or a white paper. The camera is your friend, right? So is your audience. In fact, it's full of your friends. You're talking to people. They are hearing you. It can be difficult for them to process overwritten, complex thoughts.

Keep the messaging conversational. This doesn't mean you dumb down your language. Simply prepare your message in the exact way you would explain it to a friend. Outline it so you have a plan, learn the information and then talk to more friends: the camera and your audience.

4. Don't Forget To Breathe
Many inexperienced video bloggers and spokespersons talk too quickly and forget to breathe when they're talking on-camera. I understand, you get nervous and want to get your message out rapidly, all in one breath and simply get it over with. Don't think like that.

Take a deep breathe before you hit the record button or you begin an interview. There's no shame in taking a moment to compose yourself. Breathing gets oxygen to the brain and helps you stay more focused. It also relaxes you which, in turn, is conveyed to the viewer. It makes it easier for viewers to understand your message when you're calm and speaking slowly and clearly.

5. Check Your Appearance One Final Time
Unless you're a celebrity or network anchor, you probably won't have someone telling you that you have lipstick on your teeth or a shiny forehead. (Unless you're working with me...I won't let you go on-air with an oily face).

You need to do one last appearance check before you go on-camera, no matter what the situation. Whether it's a job interview, video blog or media appearance, you need to make sure you look clean and put together. If your shiny forehead overshadows your message no one will listen to what you say. Viewers will be focused on how you look. Don't let it be a distraction.

How To Get More Comfortable On-Camera, How To Get More Comfortable Speaking On-Camera, How To Get More Comfortable Speaking In Front Of A Camera

If you're a man, at the very least get some powder to blot the shine. Click HERE for specific wardrobe and makeup advice for men. 

If you're a woman, looking the part on-camera is more difficult for you. It's a matter of fact. A consultant once told me the number one reason viewers stop while channel surfing or change the channel while watching a newscast or talk show is the appearance of the female talent. I don't know if that's true but I do know viewers are hypercritical of women.

How to get more comfortable on-camera, secrets to getting more comfortable on-camera
Doing a pre-game show before a 2011 NBA Finals game in Miami. I was five months pregnant. I got email about how fat I looked. Viewers are critical of women. Deal with it. 

It's not fair but it's the nature of the beast. I suggest working with a television makeup artist once or twice to learn how to apply makeup for on-camera appearances, which is different than doing makeup for work or a night out. You need to add dimension and depth to your face. Talk to your hairdresser to have him help you learn how to do your hair in a stylish, elegant way for media appearances.

When it comes to your wardrobe, less is more. Wear bright colors that pop on-camera but don't wear a lot of jewelry or crazy patterns like this dress I wore on TV one night. Absolute fashion fail. Dressing for women is more nuanced and difficult than it sounds. Contact me for more help.

We have barely scratched the "getting more comfortable on-camera surface". People spend years developing a natural ease and authority on-camera. Gina Miller Media has helped professional athletes with their media interviews, c-suite executives with their corporate webcasts and a slew of other individuals with their on-camera presence.

Stay In Touch 
Getting comfortable on-camera starts with the way we talk. Download our free list of Enunciation Exercises. These are the same ones Gina Miller uses every day as a broadcast journalist. Yes, we do warm up before we go on-air.

It's yours when you sign up for our Cheat Sheet, a weekly digest of modern media news and on-camera tips to help you get the most out of your multimedia marketing efforts.

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How to get more comfortable on-camera, getting more comfortable on-camera