From Camera-Shy to Camera-Ready — Here's What to Consider Before You Go on Camera

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You didn’t ask for it. You don’t want to do it. Getting in front of a camera is one of the most dreaded activities for many. It’s called being camera shy. But increasingly, the focus is on real people talking about their work rather than using paid spokespeople or unknown narrators. And today, it is not just the leader of the business that needs to be ready for their “close-up” but those on the front lines. The designers. The researchers. The product experts. The people on the manufacturing floor. The customer service representative and others. This trend of using real people to tell stories has many benefits for businesses.

To begin with, it gives a face to the organization. The viewer gets to see people in action. Everyone loves to get a sneak peek, go behind the scenes and see how things are designed and made, hear about the challenges, and see the results. Of course, that means someone needs to be out front.

Are you the right person?

If asked to be on-camera, here are a few things to consider. First, do you have the experience to speak about the topic? Are you knowledgeable? Have you been directly involved in the area that will be covered? Are you aligned with the company’s views, and are you excited about what you do?

That might seem basic, but too often, individuals find themselves in a situation where they must talk about something they are not interested in, and that shows when you get in front of the lens.

Today, video case studies and product videos are critical to a company’s marketing efforts. You may be tapped because of your expertise, whether you are a technical or subject matter expert. People want to hear from engineers, developers and scientists. They like the perspective of the people who do the work over those who market and sell.

For recruitment videos, companies like to showcase a variety of individuals, from newer workers to more seasoned ones. If you have a story about rising through the ranks or a great passion for your work, you are the right person to be out front and center. People also love to hear from people who look and sound like them, so if you fit the demographic of sought-after potential employees, you go to the top of the list to be interviewed for your story.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide: 6 Ways to Use Video to Amplify Your Brand Presence

Are you camera-friendly?

Believe it or not, lots of people, even introverts, can be camera-friendly. The key is simply being yourself — not being concerned about how you look or overthink everything you say. The camera “likes” people who don’t put on a show or try too hard. If you are honest and relatable, the camera will be your friend.

Another quality that makes you camera-friendly is the ability to make complex things simple for others to understand. Can you tell a story as though you are explaining a concept or business initiative to a friend? If you have facts and a story that illustrates them, it is a powerful combination. Some people tend to use industry jargon or acronyms. Nothing turns a listener off faster than not understanding the content. Avoid using words that are not commonly understood. People who use simple, direct language can connect and command attention from an audience. And when it comes to language, less is more. Can you speak concisely about the topic? Not wander around or get sidetracked?

Over the years, numerous studies have emphasized the importance of non-verbal communication. As much as 80 to 90% of communication comes from our nonverbals. If it is that important in face-to-face communication, what happens when you are up close and personal with your audience on camera? Facial expression, eye contact gestures and tone of voice are amplified on camera. If you are not comfortable in your own skin, it shows. However, if your nonverbals are good and what you say matches how you look, you can deliver a powerful message.

Some of what makes people camera-friendly is hard to explain, but you know it when you see it. Viewers are drawn to attractive people, but that is not just about having good looks. I spend a lot of time interviewing people for corporate videos, and the ones that truly shine are attractive because they are comfortable and have a personality that is engaging. They are authentic, and it is obvious to all that they believe what they say. People who are engaged and excited about what they do are fun to watch.

Are you ready?

One of the biggest issues I have when interviewing or coaching people to be on camera is that they overprepare. They memorize. They want every word to be perfect. These people are usually terrible in front of the camera. Here is my simple advice if you want to get camera-ready.

You have been asked to be out front because of your knowledge. Write down three to four key points, and if needed, put them on one big notecard. Don’t try to sound smart. Just be yourself.

Think of a video opportunity as a conversation with someone you like. This is a chance to share what you know. No one speaks perfectly. If you make a mistake, correct it and move on. Most likely it will be fixed in the editing room, so you don’t need to worry.

Appearance is important. That means looking neat and wearing clothes that don’t distract from the message. Keep it simple: use solid colors and no flashy jewelry.

If you are asked to do regular video segments for your company, consider getting some training to be more comfortable with the camera. Learning simple things such as where to look, how to speak in soundbites, and more can amp up your performance.

Related: How to Have Confidence on Camera

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