Light. Camera. Action. And there you are in front of the camera, nervous as hell and trying to remember what you planned to say. Your throat works madly. You fluff your lines. Gah! Being in the limelight is not for everyone.
Yet, when it comes to social video it can be everything to have your experts, leaders and brilliant staff on camera. They know their stuff. They build the relationships with your audience and embody your brand. You want them to be the people who will bring your social to life for your customers.
But not everyone is comfortable performing in the spotlight. Their lips go dry, voices squeak and eyes drift nervously to one side. They come across badly.
Being a natural in front of the camera takes practice. Calming nerves is a step in the right direction and ensures personality and confidence begins to shine through. Here are my tips for learning to chill in front of the lens (Including the ‘bum cheek clenching’ requirement).
Chill-out and warm-up
Waiting to be on camera can be the worst time to try and calm down. You go over what you’re going to say, your body language tightens till you almost curl as the anxiety builds.
Get up and get moving. It will help you open up your body movements. I pace, others like to jump about. Stretch and unwind those muscles. Some suggest pressing very hard, palms out, on a wall; apparently, when you step away your muscles soften and your body opens outwards.
Relax your voice too – the nervous squeak or gurgley-cough is not a great way to start the performance. Sing, make those stage actors’ “moo moo” or “mee mee” noises. Talk with your tongue stuck out as far as it can. Yes, you look weird, but it will relax your vocal chords and make you sound like you.
Roll the camera
Once action is shouted, don’t start straight away. Give yourself time relax and focus. Keep the camera rolling before and after your piece. Just knowing that makes it easier. If you fluff your talk, don’t stop the camera. Keep rolling. It takes the pressure off and it can be easily cut after the filming.
One thing. Do not fret about how many takes you need to do. Professional camera crews won’t give a damn. Don’t give yourself anything more to worry about. Remarkably, when you don’t worry about these things, you will find you generally perform quite well on the first take anyway.
Don’t learn your lines
I learnt this from bitter experience. If you learn lines and forget them, it throws you. You end up stuttering and trying to find the thread of what you are saying. Create two to three points you want to make (keep it simple and don’t use big formal words you wouldn’t use normally). And then speak from the heart. You know your stuff. Trust me, be you. It will work.
If you must learn a few lines, then do so with the first thing you’re going to say. It helps to calm the jitters a bit and helps you relax into the beginning of your piece. And don’t rush, speak slowly you will sound more authoritative and it will keep you from tripping over your tongue. Unless you are like me and always speak ten to the dozen anyway.
Use your imagination, sometimes
Looking into the camera lens can be a bit unnerving. You suddenly become conscious that this is all being recorded. If you are doing a piece to camera, use your imagination and pretend it is your mum, a friend or a partner.
Imagination is powerful when learning to control your body language. Think you are relaxed, feel like the camera is just in your conversation and that this is you talking to someone you trust. It will change how you appear and sound. You will find you appear more natural.
A word of warning though, don’t pretend to be who you are not. Be you or it will come across as fake, it always does.
Oh! And that buttock thing
Sometimes our bodies ignore our minds. Even if you feel calm the shot of adrenalin as you step into the spotlight can give you the shakes. The answer is to clench those butt cheeks as hard as you can for a good few minutes. I have no idea why it works, but it does. Maybe it is a distraction or maybe it is biological. Who knows, but just try it.
So next time you are crushed by nerves before you go on camera, remember to move, sing, pretend, keep filming and…