I think it is safe to say, most people look awful in the videos they post online. Part of the reason is bad lighting (I address this problem in my newest training product – Cheap and Easy Video Lighting) and the other reason is they have no idea how to ‘play to camera.’ In this post, I’m going to give you a few tips for looking comfortable and trustworthy on video.
Not long ago I was asked to participate in a training session for the vice presidents of a national non-profit group. They had hired a very experienced (and expensive) media consultant to come and groom these executives to be effective media spokespeople. My job, beyond sitting in and soaking up all of the things being taught, was to videotape the executives in simulated interview scenarios so they could watch themselves and become aware of their on-camera behavior.
A few of the things taught that day are relevant to anyone who wants to look good on camera and use the medium of web video to build trust with their audience. In this post I’m going to share a few tips I learned during that high-level training session that you can put to work right now.
The most important thing I can share with you is the need to ‘be yourself’ on camera. It is tempting to try and create a character for yourself when you are on camera, but you need to resist the temptation. Few people are good enough actors to be convincing, so the result is that you end up looking like you are hiding something – your ‘real self.’
Being yourself doesn’t mean you don’t try to look and sound your best, it just means that a laid back person shouldn’t pretend to be a type-a executive or a PhD Psychologist shouldn’t try to act like a blue-collar worker.
In today’s Internet, authenticity rules. So, relax and let the real you come through.
Manage Your Adrenaline
The next tip has to do with managing your ‘nerves.’ Most people get at least a little nervous before going on-camera. It is very natural to have a little stage-fright, and the result is that your body will produce adrenaline. The only way to get adrenaline out of your body is through movement – you literally burn it off. If you try to force yourself to sit still, the adrenaline will still work its way out through weird facial tics and eye blinks.
The most natural way to deal with excess adrenaline is to ‘talk with your hands.’ Relax and allow yourself to make gestures while you talk. It looks natural to your viewers and gives a natural outlet for any adrenaline in your body.
Know Your Material
Rambling on and on, drifting off topic, stumbling and stammering are all symptoms of someone who does not have a clear understanding of what they are trying to say. And, that does not instill confidence in your viewers. They want to listen to someone who appears to ‘know their stuff.’
The best method to avoid rambling is to create a clear outline of what you plan to say before you go near the camera. This can become a very detailed script, or just a simple outline of the main talking points. Whichever path you choose, take the time to clarify your message and then rehearse what you want to say.
Sit Forward In Your Chair
Viewers read a lot into your body posture. The camera likes people who take charge. The strongest and most energized position you can assume is sitting on the front edge of your chair, weight balanced on the balls of your feet, with a slight forward lean.
Leaning back in your chair causes your body to slouch and makes you look distant and indifferent – not how you want your viewers to perceive you.
Ditch The Tinted Glasses
If you wear glasses at all, consider taking them off while you are on camera to avoid reflections in the lenses. And, if you wear glasses with tinted lenses, never wear them on camera.
Tinted lenses make it hard to see your eyes, which gives you a sinister look. If people can’t see your eyes, they will have trouble trusting you, because the people who usually hide their eyes don’t have your best interests in mind.
This is another reason to make sure you have good lighting when you record video. The simple lighting system I teach in Cheap and Easy Video Lighting is designed to ensure that your eyes are always well lit so that viewers can ‘read’ your face.
Most people who use the available light in a room when making videos end up with heavy shadows in their eye sockets. The reason is that most of the time, the dominant light is coming from overhead.
These tips should help you present yourself better on camera which will, in turn, make you stand out from the crowd. Most people (even professional marketers) just don’t go the few extra steps required to transform their videos from awful to awesome.
Are you having trouble creating the kinds of videos you want to make for your web video marketing? Leave a comment below and describe your problem. We’ll help you come up with a solution that works.