Confession: I have spent most of my life on stage, the last 10 years acting on camera, and the last 16 months recording over 250 videos for YouTube and online courses. And yet when I recently decided to begin a weekly Facebook Live series, I was still filled with absolute terror.
Whether you’re going live or filming videos that can be edited before publishing, there’s something very vulnerable about getting on camera. All of our insecurities tend to come to the surface and we become hyper-critical of everything from our voice to our facial expressions. But if you can get over your self-consciousness, video can be really enjoyable, and more importantly, hugely impactful on your career or business.
The following 5 strategies are tried and tested by me, and I’m happy to report that they all work — even when I’m hopping on a dreaded Facebook Live. (To be honest, I no longer dread them – yayyy! Although they’re still a lot scarier than pre-recorded video.)
1. Practice, practice, practice.
Roll your eyes if you want, I know I’m starting with the obvious. But I want to take this advice further.
First up, find a way to practice on your own if you can. Having someone listening to what you’re doing can make you feel really self-conscious and awkward (speaking from experience here!) which will get in the way your focus.
Also, make good use of that time by practising with purpose. Even if you’re not planning on publishing anything yet, write yourself some practice scripts (bullet-point outlines only — no memorising allowed as per point 2!) and get used to glancing at your notes, looking at the camera and talking about that point to camera without stopping and starting. Repeat for the next point and so on.
Staring down the barrel can be one of the most challenging things to get used to, especially if yours isn’t a traditional lens. For built-in cameras on computers and phones or separate webcams, I recommend putting some fluorescent tape each side of the lens so it’s easier to focus on. No matter what you use, it can be fun to draw a little happy face on a post-it and tape it to your camera to remind you to smile and keep your energy up. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
2. Prepare… but don’t over-prepare.
Say whaaa? Yep. I want you to know your topic inside out and have formed a strong opinion on it. You also need to know exactly what the point of your video is and what kind of action it should lead to (what do you want your audience to do after they’ve watched?)
All this stuff needs to be in your head, however, and not in the form of pages and pages of notes because those things are going to mess you up while you’re recording. The most you should have written down are the prompts for your intro, main points you’re making, conclusion and call to action. Writing (or typing them) in a large font on one piece of paper per video makes it easier for glancing down without losing momentum. If you have a laptop or iPad, you could use that instead.
3. Look your best to feel your best.
No, I don’t mean you need to hire a personal stylist and makeup artist, but you do need to present yourself in a way that makes YOU feel confident.
I personally have a handful of outfits that I call my “video wardrobe” because I know they look good on camera plus they make me feel good in them. They shouldn’t clash (or blend in) with your background, plus plain colours and simple necklines tend to be the most flattering. But there are no real rules, so start trying out some options during your practice sessions and make note of the best ones.
I try not to wear the same thing in back to back videos as it becomes obvious in the thumbnails, but never underestimate the power of a jacket to transform your look without having to change out of your top!
4. Remember who you’re talking to.
One of the biggest traps with video is feeling like you’re talking to an infinite number of people – and worse, strangers – all across the internet. Sure, the potential to be seen is there, but that’s no why you’re doing this. You’re here to impact the life of your dream customer/client/audience member.
Focusing on helping/informing/entertaining just one important person allows you to bring your energy to the right level, stay more relaxed, and come across as more genuine than if you feel like you’re performing.
Every time you’re about to hit record, I want you to visualise that one person you’d love to impact and do that video just for them.
When we get nervous our bodies tend to go a little crazy. Our breathing changes, we sweat, start shaking, our tone of voice changes, and worst of all, our brains seem to disconnect from our bodies.
To avoid these distracting symtoms, it’s important to find a way to slow your breathing and get “grounded” before you begin. To do this, first ensure you’ve given yourself a few minutes to gather your thoughts before hitting record (especially if you’re going live).
Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the ground (or you can do this sitting on the floor if you prefer) and visualise your entire body being connected to the floor, right from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Observe how your body is feeling and be grateful for that nervous energy — it means you care!
Now you’re going to do some breathing. A really simple breath routine is the 4-7-8. Breathe in slowly for 4, hold your breath for 7, and breathe out for 8 (keeping a steady beat the whole time). Do this for a minute and your body will literally be forced to calm down. Then put a smile on your face, take a breath in (never sigh before you first start as it deflates you), and hit record!
I hope these tips help you find a little more confidence next time you get on camera and in time, make the whole video experience more and more enjoyable.
Kat is an actor, writer & the creator of GAMEFACE. She started her career off by playing Marilyn at Warner Bros Movie World, went on to perform in the original Australian casts of Jersey Boys & Hairspray. She now lives in Vancouver with her partner where she works as an actor, runs her self-titled YouTube channel, and attempts to learn how to snowboard.