October 20

How to be Comfortable in Front of a Camera in 7 Easy Steps

Creative Careers

Wondering how you can feel comfortable in front of the camera? Here are seven easy (and free) ways to overcome the dread

How to Be Comfortable in Front of a Camera

Intro

 Hi there! My name is Abi King and I'm passionate about getting you to feel comfortable talking to a camera instead of directly to a person. 

Now, I used to hate this. Hate, hate, hate.

I hated any photos with me in them. I hated hearing my own voice. I hated the feeling of "having to get it right" I would...just... the thought of it was awful.

And then, through work, one of my writing assignments wanted me to travel to Japan and broadcast for Lonely Planet. To stand in front of a camera crew and be their anchor person.

And after that, they wanted me to broadcast live to over a million people on their Lonely Planet channels. And then the BBC.

It was on the spot, I had a lot to learn. And I'll repeat it because it's worth repeating: I had a lot to learn. Because it's not magic, it's a set of skills.

You can actually learn tips and tricks to make this process better for the person watching - and for you. And when that happens, it's more fun! 

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The Pandemic Has Made Speaking to Camera Even More Important

The year 2020 has shown us a lot of things. It's also shown us that video is the future. We're all going to have to be comfortable talking to camera, whether that's a Zoom meeting, whether you're having to put together educational training sessions for children or adults or creating instagram stories or TikTok routines for work or presenting at a conference remotely.

My 3-year-old daughter started nursery school this September and her first piece of homework was to create a video. She had to talk to camera, introducing her favourite toy, because she couldn't take it in. This is a skill that the country deems important enough to start before she learns her ABCs. 

So, if you've been afraid, then it is time.

Why You're Afraid (And Why You're Wrong)


But I do understand why you're afraid. Public speaking, in general, is one of the most frightening things for people. And it's because of this fear of judgment.

I think lots of us worry about who is looking at this and will they be judging me and do I get my words wrong and does my hair look stupid and what will they think about what I've chosen for my background or what about what I'm wearing and I just hate the sound of my own voice and...

And all of these worries are really, really common. I have them every single time. It's very natural to talk to people and to put our ideas across. It's really not natural to stand in front of a camera jabbering away.

Abigail King in Shinjuku Tokyo

Filming for Lonely Planet in Tokyo - Gathering Tips on Planning a Trip

The Number One Mistake When Talking to Camera

But that's the number one mistake. All those concerns, all those thoughts that are putting you off. They're all about you and judgment of you. And I want you to shove that to one side and think about your viewer instead, okay?

I also teach writing courses and we talk about this a lot in terms of writing for your reader. 

If you want to be comfortable in front of a camera, then ask yourself this: what is in it for the viewer? They're the people who matter for this.

You are just a vehicle for this story to get out.

How can I help my viewer?How can I help them understand my point better? What is best for them to look at?

JOIN THE MASTERCLASS

Learn the secrets that pro broadcasters know

When you ask yourself these questions, then a lot of these tips actually become a lot more obvious. And the best thing that happens is that you get yourself out of your own head.

Because it doesn't really matter what people think about the sound of your voice or what you look like.

First of all, people are hardly ever as judgmental as you think. Second of all, they're doing that anyway. It's just you don't normally see what they see.

So that's the weird shock when you watch a video of yourself. But to the rest of the world, it's not news. People already know what you look like. They already know what you sound like.

And if anything, they'll just be wondering why you've gone really tense and stressed when you're doing any video presentation!

People are remarkably forgiving if you can show hard work, energy, enthusiasm, and creativity. And I'm pretty sure that's what you've got. That's why you're reading this and that's why you want to get better.

So get yourself out of the way. Think about the viewer.

How to be comfortable on camera

The 5 S Technique for Being Comfortable on Camera

But I want to give you things that you can do right now.

To make it easier, here's a mnemonic. The 5 S technique.

Royal Circus Bath - staying in Circus House

It's easier than ever to take selfies when you stay closer to them ;-)

Selfie Mode

So the first S of a tip that I would give to you if you're hating, hating, hating talking to camera is to actually practice in selfie mode. This is counter-intuitive to a lot of people.

Like did you not hear, lady?! I hate looking at myself and I hate listening to myself!

And, you know, that's true but it links to the second S. Because you are your worst critic but you're also kind of your best friend. There's no hiding from you.

You're there everywhere you go. And when you see yourself in selfie screen, you start to see a bit more of what your viewer sees. So, are you standing in the right place? Are you looking at the camera? And there's just a sense of the kind of ridiculousness of it all which is another S - don't take it so seriously.

Vlogger holding oil up to camera

The vlogging equipment essentials

Don't Take it So Seriously

Let's face it, there's something faintly ridiculous about talking to a lens instead of a to a person.

And in selfie mode, it's even more ridiculous because you can see yourself.

Think of those Hollywood starlets in steamy love scenes? Next to that intimate moment, you'll have a group of blokes in jeans and jumpers, a whole load of kit, inane background chat and probably a draught.  

And news anchors and travel broadcasts. What can passers by see? Someone animated and talking to a tripod. I mean, it's a ridiculous way to earn a living. So you don't need to take it seriously. Aim for good quality, sure, but just have fun with it, okay? 

And news anchors and travel broadcasts. What can passers by see? Someone animated and talking to a tripod. I mean, it's a ridiculous way to earn a living. So you don't need to take it seriously. Aim for good quality, sure, but just have fun with it, okay?


Abigail King of Inside the Travel Lab luxury travel blog

Finding the right camera for your trip

Smile and Supercharge the Energy

Even if you're about to talk about some really serious stuff, a smile still helps.

And bring up the energy. Bring, bring, bring up the energy.

My number one piece of advice and training from those days at Lonely Planet was always energy.

I'm still always imagining Christa, our producer, standing behind the camera, gesturing and cheering me on.

Smile, smile, and smile some more. Add energy, add gusto. Add more, more, more!

It feels ridiculous when you're doing it. But there's something about the camera that sucks the living energy right out of what you're saying.

If you just talk in your normal voice, people wonder if there's something wrong with you.  

So, performance voice on! Energy, smiles, and away you go!

All about skydiving - tandem jump over spain

Skydiving. Madness, Really

Sweat and Star Jumps


OK, bear with me on this one.

If you're struggling to get into the right headspace and you can't find that energy, then do a little exercise.

Run up and down the stairs a few times. Do some star jumps. Go out into the cold and come back into the bright, warm. Anything that brings the sort of rush of blood to your face that makes you feel more alive is going to give you a better presence on the screen and a lot more energy when you're talking.

Obviously, you can overdo this. We don't want you dripping with sweat and unable to talk. Just a hint of a glow and breathless excitement is the look we're going for!

Road Trip Essentials - what to bring on a road trip - toy car on map of USA

Structure Not Script

Personally, I'm not a big believer in scripts. I think it's very, very hard for anybody to read them properly unless they're a trained actor.

So, instead of script, I want you to have structure, whether you're broadcasting live or creating a pre-recorded segment.

Have some structure, write down some bullet points.

Think about what you want to say and where you want to end up.

It's like mapping out a route. If you know you have to pass through three cities to get to where you're going, that's fine. You don't need to write down every single left-hand turn, right-hand turn, stop at the traffic lights along the way.

So, repeat after me: structure, not script. 

Video production vlogging gear

What's the next step?

What do you do once you've learned how to be comfortable on camera? Well, there's how to look good on camera (shh, I won't tell) and then how to sound good on camera and lots more besides. 

Check out our FREE training and list of vlogging equipment for beginners over here. 

And don't miss the paid masterclass: an interactive session to share the secrets the pros know and get you on your way. Find out all the details over here.


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