By Ronnie Walsh, Nine Island Communications
Love it or hate it, but don’t avoid it. Going on camera is increasingly a vital skill in order to connect with others. Whether it’s a social media post, a media interview, or a personal video message to someone important, on-camera opportunities (and requirements) are increasing. Your performance and approach to content can make the difference between being heard and being ignored.
I call on-camera performance a skill because it is. It’s something you can learn, practise, and improve upon, even if it’s not your favourite thing to do. It helps if you truly enjoy the experience or are a natural in front of the camera. However, most clients I coach don’t fall into these categories. Most are nervous or a little reluctant to take part. They have to gather their courage—and when they do, the results are fantastic.
Here’s a secret: the individuals who appear to do it “flawlessly” have been coached and get coaching regularly. They also practise often. The investment pays off.
So how do you develop and improve these skills? Here are the five things that will help you to be camera-ready:
- Be genuine.
- Know your story.
- Manage your nerves.
- Be mindful of non-verbal communication.
You’re a real person, not a professional actor. People don’t want to see you be something other than you. I usually suggest people be the best version of their true self. Wear what you normally wear, speak the way you normally speak, choose words that you would normally use. If you are genuine and relaxed, a viewer will not notice or care about a minor stumble. Who amongst us is perfect anyway? Strive to be genuine, not perfect.
It’s important to know your story—beginning, middle, and end—and ensure you’re not bogged down with too many messages. Keep it clear. Keep it simple. The more familiar you are with the content and the messages you want to communicate, the more natural you will appear on camera. That’s why you should not memorize lines. Memorization is spotted every time. You can see it in the eyes. There is this distant or vacant look that is a giveaway. You’re being asked to be part of a video precisely because you are a leader or expert on the subject matter. You know this stuff inside out or can quickly get up to speed. Visualize yourself as the expert. Content familiarity and this mindset are probably the most import aspects of controlling any nerves you may have.
When you’re in this prepared, confident state of mind, you are managing your nerves; you’re less distracted and can breathe a bit easier. It will definitely show. If you’re unprepared or distracted, it will be visible in your performance. Video is an exceptionally powerful and nuanced tool. Tone of voice, inflection, facial expression, pace, volume, and clarity all impart information. Notice I didn’t say words? The actual words you choose are only one part of performing on camera. How you present yourself is as important as what you say.
The truth is that most on-camera experiences are fun and positive. Embrace the moment. Will it feel uncomfortable the first few times you do it? Hell, yes! Does it get easier every time you do it? Hell, yes! Practise. Role play. Learn to love the lens.
If you’d like to learn more about how to enhance these skills and be ready for your next on-camera appearance, connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more than 20 years, Ronnie Walsh has helped people strategically and creatively tell their stories. She began her career as a journalist, then moved into communications and marketing. Ronnie’s experience allows her to view situations from different perspectives, ask the right questions, and deliver the best results. Ronnie is an accredited, award-winning communications expert known for developing corporate strategies in media relations, strategic communications, employee engagement, and reputation management. She’s also a media relations and performance coach. She shares her insight via her blog, as a professional speaker, and as the host of the business television show Extrapreneurs.