If you are just starting out with videos, you may find that you feel really awkward in front of the camera. You find yourself stumbling across words, fidgeting, pausing too much and, adding in too many “ums” and “likes” to your sentences. What can you do to look comfortable in videos and increase your confidence?
I know exactly how you feel. I so did not look comfortable in my beginning videos. It took me several hours to record my intro on my first proper video. It was a completely exhausting experience, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to ever record another video again.
I eventually worked out all of the bugs and now feel very comfortable when that red light comes on. But, I didn’t start out that way. There were a lot of things that I discovered along the way that helped me to work through all of my kinks and quirks. I want to share them with you and maybe help you reach that comfortable point quicker than I did.
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Begin with a Quality setup
I think it goes without saying that a good setup goes a long way towards how you appear. While it can’t stop all of your jitters, it will definitely help to make you look more professional even when you don’t feel it. And if you look good, you will feel better.
Now, that’s not to say that you have to break the bank to get quality. With a bit of creative thinking, you can get high-dollar results on a penny pincher’s budget. But, just knowing that your setup is going to turn out a professional-looking result will go a long way to improve your confidence once the camera starts rolling.
Decent lighting is the first step towards that goal. Again, it doesn’t have to be the top of line. It only needs to be well lit and provide contrast between you and your backdrop.
Speaking of backdrops, you can use whatever you like – a wall, a staged office, etc. However, if you go for a solid colored background, find one that is appealing to your skin and hair color. A bad color can detract from your features or cause you to look washed out.
So, play around with a few different tones and see what makes you really pop. For a cheap way to make multiple backdrops, why not create a green screen.
Did you know that audio is more important than visual? Sounds crazy, right? But, it is true. Add some bad audio to a gorgeous video and the whole thing tanks. On the other hand, you can add high quality audio to a just so-so video and the results are drastically improved.
Most beginners spend a lot of money on their lighting and other equipment without giving much thought to the sound. You don’t want to come across sounding like you are in an empty room (echo), nor do you want to have that tinny sound (no warmth).
Luckily, there are some good quality pics out there that don’t cost an arm and a leg. I use a Rode VideoMic* on a boom stand, and it has been just fine. I also have used my iPhone’s mic in a pinch, but you don’t want to do that unless you can be close to it.
How to Look Comfortable In Vidoes
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
When you are first starting out, you should plan to do your video when you have LOTS of time to devote to recording. Even though you are probably going to end up with just three minutes in your final video, you will spend soooo much more time nailing each individual clip.
I think my first few videos took about 30 minutes to adequately capture just my introduction. Of course, I handle my own setups and recording. So, a lot of time is spent getting the right lighting, angles, sound, etc.
But, you will still need time to redo takes and to record multiple angles. It all adds up and one video can end up being a full day’s worth of work.
Write a Script:
The reason why most of us stumble on our words is because our minds are searching for the best way to convey what needs to be said. Those natural pauses and gaps in language that go unnoticeable in every day settings will stand out like a sore thumb on video.
The best way to avoid that is to plan ahead. You don’t have to write out everything in detail. A bullet list of the things that you need to include will suffice. Some things that you may want to include each time are your name, your brand or blog name, your call to action, important details about what you are conveying, and a good closing.
Use Cue Cards:
If you have someone who can assist you, make up some cue cards that they can show you. If you prefer to work alone, you can stick your bullet list up close to the camera lens. You can also use an iPad to make a semi-teleprompter.
There are some apps available that will let you turn your phone or iPad into an actual functioning teleprompter. But, I caution you on that, because if you are not careful, you can come across with a monotone voice. This is the exact opposite of waht you want to do
Do Bite Size Takes:
Instead of trying to do an entire walk through all at once, try breaking things down into short 2-3 sentence takes. It is way too much to remember to do it as one clip and you will just end up frustrated.
When I do my videos, I first do my intro. (Hi guys, I’m Rachel Lynn for Blogger’s Beat and today I want to show you how I ____________.) That’s it! I stop there and do that bit until I am satisfied.
Then, I move on to the next important bit of info needed in the intro. I then record the closing. Yep, I do the intro and the outro before I even start doing the meat of the video. That way I look fresh for both the beginning and the ending.
The middle part usually has a lot more B-roll and time away from my face, so I do it last. That way, if it takes a long time, I don’t have to worry about my makeup running or the lights causing me to sweat. Both of which can detract form your ability to look comfortable in videos.
As long as you are breaking things down into smaller pieces, those multiple takes are not as big of a deal. The beauty about multiple takes is that it gives you so many clips to choose from and it allows you get practice.
You will likely find that the first few takes are like pancakes, you will end up throwing those out. Then, the ones that come after will be perfect. FYI – multiple takes will also give you some great clips to use as blooper outtakes.
Never discount those, they go a long way towards making you more relatable. Plus, you can use them to make a filler video for when you don’t have any new material.
Look Right into the Lens:
Looking into the lens will make the viewer feel like you are talking directly to them, and appear as though you are perfectly comfortable with what you are doing. If you look away from the lens or even slightly to the side, it will come across as though you are distracted from what you are doing.
Another bonus to looking right into the lens is that you can often times see your own reflection. This can be used in much the same as you would use a mirror to practice.
Be Over the Top:
I know you are aware that the camera adds 10 pounds, but did you now that it also sucks up your enthusiasm? This is why your natural bubbly self still comes across as dull on video. Think about this, if you sound bored by what you are doing, the audience will be bored with you.
If you watch some of the videos that you find exciting, I bet you will see that the person seems really exuberant. A beginner’s natural response is to let their pitch drop when speaking to a camera. It is sort of like you are talking to yourself.
As a result, our voices do not have that same inflection that we have when we are telling someone something face-to-face. To overcome this obstacle, you have to project way more excitement into your voice than seems natural.
It may feel weird at first to project so much into your speaking voice, but this will eventually become your comfortable place once you do it enough. You will also notice that your videos are more lively and pleasant and that you look more comfortable.
Take on a Persona:
If you find that no matter what you do, you can’t capture that lively spirit, or your personality just doesn’t fit with the atmosphere that you want to create, then take on a persona. Think of someone that you feel would be able to nail your message. Then, try to capture that essence.
While it is best to let your own personality come through, there is nothing wrong with doing a bit of play acting if it helps. Some people just don’t have a naturally expressive or captive face, and need to go the extra step to liven up their videos. Overtime, it will become second nature to you.
Pretend You are Talking to Someone:
If the above two tips don’t captivate you, you can always pretend that you are having a live conversation with someone. One of my favorite podcasts, Sunny Lenarduzzi, recommends sticking a picture of someone on the camera. Some people find that this works for them. You will never know unless you give it a try.
Wear the Correct Clothes:
You will notice that I don’t say to wear your most comfortable clothes. That is because your most comfortable clothes may or may not help you project the persona that you want. If your old sweats are what put you at ease and let your sparkling self come out, then by all means wear those.
However, if you are someone who acts more professional when you feel more professional, then maybe you want to go for something more in line with that. If wearing a chef’s hat makes your inner chef come out, use it for your cooking videos. Okay, I think you get the point. So, let’s move on.
Watch Out for Bad Habits
If you are new to videos, it is a good idea to record some practice clips. Do several takes until you are feeling comfortable. Then, do several more. Now, take this clips and watch them back.
What do you notice? Are your arms crossed? Do you frequently touch your hair or face. What distracting habits do you have that you have never noticed before.
When I first started doing Youtube videos, I noticed that I used the term “what I like to do is” or “the way that I like to do it is.” A few times is okay, but I did it so frequently that I immediately noticed it.
It was my habit of trying to not sound bossy when I suggest a correct way to do something. I have since eliminated that habit, which I didn’t even realize I had until I caught it on camera. Now, I don’t hide it. I am just blatantly bossy. 😉
The point is that you can watch yourself and correct just about anything that you don’t like. It is the best way to improve your videos and sometimes it can improve your everyday life, as well.
Look Comfortable In Videos When You Hate Showing Your Face
There are some people who just hate to be on camera. They cringe and freeze up, and no
Most people who do videos do so because they are providing some sort of instruction. The great thing about this is that you can use different artistic angles to eliminate the need for you face to ever be in a shot. In essence, you never need to worry that you don’t look comfortable in videos.
Do Overhead Videos:
Overhead recording is perfect for cooking, crafts, and other forms of DIY videos. They look elegant and provide the viewer everything that they need to see.
Do Screen Shots:
If you are trying to do technical type videos, you can always record your computer screen and edit it to demonstrate what you are trying to teach.
Use Images and Animation:
There is a lot that you can do with a good editing software. Images can be beautifully scrolled through, zoomed in on, and all sorts of other amazing motions.
Intros and closing can be accomplished with animation. If you don’t have the skill to create animation, don’t worry. You can use what comes in the software or you can purchase pieces from online editing stores.
Look Comfortable In Videos When You Hate Your Voice
First of all, let me just tell you that almost EVERYONE hates their voice when they first start doing videos. We have this idea in our head about how our voice sounds because, well… it’s in our head! So when we hear it live for the first few times it sounds alien.
I promise you that you are the absolute only person in the world who thinks your voice sounds weird. If you just stick with it for a while, you will eventually come to appreciate and possible love how you sound.
But if you never get to a place where you are okay with how you sound, you will likely never look comfortable in your videos. In this case, you can always try some of the techniques below.
Any video can be done with a voice over. Most people use their own voice, but there is nothing that says that you have to do that. You can always have someone with a nice speaking voice to do your audio. However, if you go down this road you will be stuck with it forever.
Instead, maybe try to find a mike that offers a nice warmth to your own voice. I use a Blue Snowball* for all of my voice overs and find that it produces a sound that is closer to what I hear in my head when I speak.
You can always go for just using text and skip the voice overs all together. It works well for some and has the added bonus of providing detail when people do not turn on their sound.
Background music has the ability to add mood to a video. It can improve or degrade your final results depending on what you use and how you use it. (i.e. Skip those cheap-sounding free audio files that many keep using. They are like nails on a chalkboard to many folks).
Music, when used, should evoke an emotion. That may be soothing or energetic or anything in between. It can also fill the space when no voice audio is being used. For sure, you should use it when you are just using text to deliver your message.
Did I miss anything? I like this to be a helpful place where we can all discuss ideas and make suggestions. So, if you have any other tips to make yourself look comfortable on videos,