Camera shy

How To Become Comfortable Recording Video

Creating videos entails more than just looking good and having a polished appearance. While some can be natural from the first take onward, a majority of them are camera shy and find it difficult to be confident while facing the camera.

With the growing prevalence of video in today’s businesses, from sales outreach, webinars, to social media content, those who feel a camera shy or awkward in front of the lens ought to work on overcoming their hesitations if they want to make an impact and build meaningful relationships. To do this, it requires more than just basic courage; it takes intentionality and effort to seed the relevant details into one’s presentation, elevating the communication experience with higher semantic richness.

In this article we provide tips on how to become comfortable and confident when facing the intimidating lens, so that you can effectively connect with your audience, maximize the potential of video content, and above all, overcome being camera shy.

How to get over camera shyness? 

Everyone’s got to start somewhere. Even expert YouTubers and seasoned hosts started with common mistakes and less-than-satisfying videos.

Becoming accustomed and relaxed when facing a video camera can be challenging, so here are some helpful hints to allow you to interact with the camera as if it were your closest confidante. With just a few simple steps, you can boost your self-assurance, increase your comfort level, and feel more at ease being recorded while speaking your mind. Getting comfortable in front of a video camera is certainly something that takes some time and practice. This section talks about confidence-building tips to make your experience talking to a camera as natural as talking to your best friend.

1. Find your sweet spot to remove camera fear

Make changes to your life to eliminate anxiety and awkwardness when you’re on camera. 

Do you feel great after a nap? Schedule the nap just before your video shooting time!

Does coffee make you feel anxious and cause fumbling? Have your coffee after shooting the video!

A new jacket gives you that warm, snugly feeling? Wear that in every video!

Does a room with people make you camera shy? Shoot your video in a calm environment!

Find what makes you comfortable because it makes your viewers confident in watching the video.

2. Use hand gestures to show confidence

Hand gestures do have a great advantage in that they are a great way to visually supplement what you are saying through words. 

The key is to use them as a natural supplement to your speech and not overuse them.

However, If you are a video newbie, conscious gestures might confuse you because you are simultaneously trying to remember their next line. 

To solve this problem: Keep your hand gestures descriptive

Use these examples:

  • Use your fingers to show a number less than 5
  • Point first to left and then to the right when talking about advantages and disadvantages (or opposite aspects) of something
  • Use your hand to indicate levels of something

When making gestures, DO keep your palms open and try to move them between your shoulders and hips.

Here are a few DON’Ts for hand gestures:

  • Keep hands away from the “not for public” parts of your body
  • Avoid joining the fingertips of both hands; it makes you look tense and awkward
  • Don’t hold objects (pens, folded sheets, etc) in your hands

The simplest tip is to cross the fingers of both hands with each other and station your hands on your stomach, so they don’t interfere with your speech. 

3. Mind your cadence

When it comes to delivering an effective message, public speaking can be likened to narration in a video; they both rely heavily on the speaker’s ability to modulate their cadence and rhythm in order to captivate the audience and create a lasting impact. When done right, the correct pacing of speech can have a positive effect on how your words are received and understood; however, if this isn’t done effectively, you run the risk of losing your listener’s attention. To ensure that your message is heard and understood, focus on controlling the speed and rate of delivery for maximum engagement with your listeners.

Speak slowly, take necessary pauses, and avoid run-on sentences to feel confident and less camera shy.

Notice how one of the most respected sales coaches in the business Jeffrey Gitomer speaks:

Video source: Youtube

Watch more of his videos and observe how he varies his pace. Note the cadence of your favorite YouTubers and take inspiration from them. 

How to achieve the perfect cadence?

I use this one rule in writing: 

If the sentence has more than two prepositions or conjunctions, it’s a candidate for shortening. 

Wait, what?!

I know, I know! This is a lot of technical grammar jargon at once. 

Here’s another simpler explanation:

Any word that you use to attach some information to the sentence can be used to break up the sentence into two parts. Such words that add clarifying/qualifying information tend to be either conjunctions, prepositions, which, or that

If a sentence has three or more such connecting/qualifying words, consider splitting the sentence. Then speak those sentences out loud to decide your cadence. 

For example:

We have tickets for the symphony and the opera rehearsing on Wednesday and for which I ordered tickets early so I don’t lose the closest seats.

The words highlighted in the above example are some conjunctions (and, so, etc) and prepositions (on, at, in, etc). These words add a clause of qualifying information in the sentence.

I would split this sentence like this:

We have tickets for the symphony and the opera rehearsals. I ordered the tickets for rehearsals on Wednesday. I got the closest seats.

Talk with this rule when making practice videos or writing long pieces of text so it gets naturally woven into your speech.

4. Inflection to engage with the audience

Inflection is the level of your pitch.

If the last word of your spoken sentence ends on a high note, it sounds awkward – as if you are asking a question or doubting yourself. This often happens unconsciously with beginners.

On the other extreme are beginners who are so nervous that they forget inflection altogether; they speak in a robotic, flat tone of voice.

Always vary your tone while speaking based on the information contained in the sentence. Also, consciously avoid ending important sentences on a high note (so you don’t hurt your credibility).

5. Practice can help with camera shyness

As corny as it sounds, practice does make you perfect!

Here is a video showing how one of our Product Marketer’s at Hippo Video has been honing her skills and evolving the craft over time, as evidenced by her improvement in creating professional-level videos.

So how can you practice? For one, create Instagram and Snapchat stories to get used to being in front of the camera. It’s a great trick to overcome being camera shy.

Record private videos talking about something and share them with your closest friends so they can tell you what looks/sounds good on you and what doesn’t.

Practice looking directly into the camera lens.

To make things easier, keep a single photo of your favorite person (who makes you the most comfortable) just behind the lens. As you record the video, talk directly to that person. This will help:

  • Center your eyes 
  • Look directly into the camera
  • Take away nerves that cause you to fumble.

DO NOT keep this photo too high above the lens or too far back from the camera. These positions draw your eyes away from the camera lens. 

Do more video calls with your family if you need even more practice.

6. Practice removing fillers from your speech

Small errors like fillers (”like”, “you know”, etc) are common among beginners. Instead pausing a little or showing you are thinking by saying um.. is a better alternative. By avoiding this you can also reduce the workload of the editor who may have to use awkward cuts, which hampers the viewer’s ability to maintain the connection. 

Why do we use fillers?

Generally, fillers replace silence in our speech. We tend to consciously or unconsciously use them because silence is uncomfortable for us or we don’t see silence as useful.

To get rid of this pesky habit, understand that well-timed pauses (or silence) are a great way to connect better with your viewers. Strategic pauses give a few seconds to your viewers to summarize and make sense of what you just said.

Here is a simple step-by-step plan to get rid of fillers while recording videos:

  1. Start by practicing out loud to highlight your fillers.
  2. Practice saying the word “pause” out loud whenever you anticipate a filler while speaking.
  3. After a while, replace the word “pause” with an actual pause.
  4. Compose yourself by taking a small breath whenever there is a pause coming on as you speak

Fillers are common but they are also incredibly easy to tackle with practice. 

7. Don’t stress over little mistakes 

Beginners start making videos with no real expectations, they just see veteran YouTubers (and in some cases newscasters) and want to emulate them.

It takes a certain number of videos to form realistic expectations and realize that mistakes and retakes are just a part of the process of filming videos. It takes time to realize that perfection is a myth!

Some days are great: You come into the office, write your script, and film it flawlessly with minimal retakes.

On other days, it can feel like a battle against yourself: You can’t focus, you think you look terrible (even though you look better than you think!), and all that anxiety flows into your video filming process.

Your goal is just to ensure that, on most days, your level falls somewhere between these two extremes. As I stated earlier in this article, it’s about finding your sweet spot of feeling – a level that is satisfactory for yourself and members of your video team. 

Over a month-long period, try to improve little things like 

  • improving your overall comfort level in front of the camera 
  • minimizing retakes
  • reducing the editor’s turnaround time

If the anxiety is overwhelming and it affects your mood regularly, ensure you are sleeping well and taking other steps to manage your stress. 

Want to make personalized sales videos? Leave all forms of personalization to HippoVideo. With us, you don’t have to worry about hyper-personalization at scale; just focus on being the most confident you can be on camera. 

8. Use tools to become confident

Using a teleprompter can be a great way to break away from the constraints of memorizing scripts when creating video content. You can directly start to focus on delivering your lines and adding emphasis by using punctuation markers, colors and other text formatting techniques. This empowers those who are camera shy as you can emphasize key points while not having to worry about remembering all the lines of your script.

Don’t have a budget for a teleprompter? At Hippo Video, the teleprompter feature is part of the free trial version, and you can use it for a lifetime, free of cost. 

To record (sales, marketing, or educational) videos over a webcam simultaneously with a presentation on your screen, HippoVideo provides a screen record feature with webcam narration.

How to make great videos

At the heart of great videos is your ability to be so comfortable in front of your camera that your viewers can instantly relate to you. Having said that, even the experts took their time to reach their current seemingly flawless levels. Focus on small steps for daily improvement – one day you will look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come!

Have you fought any confidence issues when you first started making videos? How did you overcome being camera shy? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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