This past month I've been been thinking a lot about how common it is for people to feel uncomfortable when on camera. Everything is fine and dandy until the record button gets pressed and suddenly the lively subject, who moments ago was so charming, has gone cold, or is acting very strangely indeed.
There are generally two common behaviours that happen to new presenters when they get in front of a camera.
1. They become larger than life: hyperactive, fidgety, loud, and possessed of extreme gesticulation and facial expression. This is called pushing.
2. They turn into brick walls and stop breathing and moving. This is referred to as freezing.
Either way, they are no longer behaving like the fascinating humans they really are. They're someone else entirely, and not a someone that most people want to get to know.
And pushing and freezing isn't done by the general public. Top YouTubers can be found guilty of gesticulating as though they just recently learned how to use their arms, or standing so stoically one wonders if they are in fact human at all.
This is in part because most people presenting online have no performance training and no on-camera training. They improve by watching their performances and tweaking, but they've never worked with a performance coach who can tell them exactly where they are off kilter.
I think you'll agree that being yourself, and not turning into either the Tasmanian Devil or a marble statue is definitely something to think about when you create your own web videos.
So how can you stay relaxed while on camera?
How can you ensure that your real self shines through?
While there are many many techniques to help you with on-camera presentation (professionals spend years improving their on-camera presence) there are two key elements to staying calm and being yourself on camera.
2. Let go of self-criticism.
It's okay if your first take isn't usable.
Just breathe. Release the tension in your face and body.
Tell yourself that you can do it. And keep going.
Don't apologize if you flub a line.
Stop. Breathe. Start again.
Like most things in life, where there's a will, there's a way.
- Colette Nichol, Story Envelope Media