You’ve avoided doing video for as long as you can because you have a fear of being on camera. Now that video is a fundamental part of the business world, though, there’s no more running from the camera.
You know all the huge pluses that come with video. Still, you just can’t get excited about it!
- You’re sold on the immense power of video to promote your business, BUT speaking on camera just feels scary and stressful to you.
- There’s overwhelming evidence that video can put more eyes on your brand, BUT you’re afraid you’ll mess up in front of thousands of viewers.
- Speaking on camera is now a big part of the job, BUT the idea of being seen on camera by your peers makes you break into a cold sweat.
- There’s an online course just waiting to get out of you, BUT the thought of appearing on camera is terrifying.
Commanding the video camera has become a skill everyone needs. Business meetings, summits, conferences, panel discussions, sales calls, job interviews; today, they’re all happening on video.
The reality is if you don’t learn how to face the camera without fear, you’ll get left behind…way behind. But don’t worry, that’s where we can help!
We’re going to share some of the methods we’ve used as television journalists for overcoming camera anxiety. These are timeless techniques we used both ourselves and in coaching people we’ve interviewed who were nervous on camera. These techniques served us well then and continue to do so today.
This is what you’ll find on the inside:
- Why It’s Important to Overcome a Fear of Being on Camera—some key benefits to confronting on-camera jitters.
- Why Do I Get Nervous in Front of a Camera—going beyond the paralysing nervousness, understanding its deeper causes.
- Common Reasons for Being Nervous on Camera—unravelling the brain’s protection protocols keeping you from doing video.
- How to Be Comfortable in Front of a Video Camera—tried-and-true techniques of the pros for becoming comfortable in your videos.
Fear of the camera is, unfortunately, a natural instinct. It takes work to programme the mind to conquer that fear.
Okay, folks, the jury is in.
Video is experiencing an unstoppable rise online. It has become non-optional for our jobs and businesses…whether we like it or not. If you have a fear of being on camera, though, it can be tough to view this trend with anything other than dread.
But, as with so many things in life, there’s no turning back the clock. The use of video in the business world is only going to continue to grow. That’s why learning how to face the camera without fear is unavoidable.
Given that video is now more deeply ingrained in so many parts of our lives, if you’re one of those people who gets nervous about being on camera, you definitely want to learn how to squash your camera fear and anxiety.
Fear can be an indiscriminate defence mechanism, shielding us against danger but also holding us back from opportunity.
1: Why It’s Important to Overcome a Fear of Being on Camera
In the world of business, appearing anxious or awkward isn’t ideal. You want to be seen as confident, self-assured and in control. These qualities are also critical on camera because you want to make a positive impact when you address audiences.
Viewers may not be able to put their finger on the indicators of on-camera nervousness like odd quirks, distracting body language or halting speech. Still, they’ll know something is off or doesn’t feel right. They can sense camera anxiety and may come to the wrong conclusions about you based on these nervousness markers. That’s why it’s important to learn how to be comfortable in front of a video camera.
As on-camera coaches, our advice to clients is to start by writing down all the positives that come from a new skill, knowledge, or routine. Seeing those benefits spelt out on paper will keep you motivated and driven to learn and grow in your industry.
Here are just a few of the rewards of learning how to face the camera without fear.
- Building a bigger audience
- Reaching global markets
- Developing your know, like and trust factors more quickly
- Earning respect and trust in your niche
- Becoming a recognized brand in your industry
- Forging stronger bonds with audiences
All these pluses lead to the ultimate result—success.
Write down a full list of the benefits you will gain by going on camera and keep it handy. You’ll need it later on when we get to the advanced techniques for overcoming camera anxiety.
2: Why Do I Get Nervous in Front of the Camera?
From too many flubs to an outright train wreck, we’ve all seen some TV appearances or live streams that made us cringe.
As former television journalists, we’ve encountered some extreme cases of camera fear. We’ve interviewed people who were so petrified by the camera, they couldn’t even say their names without stuttering breathlessly. While these examples are on the extreme side, a fear of being on camera is quite common—certainly nothing to be ashamed of.
You see, fear does serve a useful purpose. It’s there to protect both body and mind from harm. Unfortunately, sometimes our brains don’t do very well at distinguishing between real threats and imagined risks.
Facing the camera for your job or business easily qualifies as an imagined risk. The mind tricks us into believing appearing in videos can mean irreparable damage to our reputations should we mess up.
So, why does the video camera trigger such crippling anxiety in some folks?
Well, as humans, we tend to worry about what other people think of us. Using video means directly confronting that primal fear of being judged. There is no anonymity with video. You have to show your face, share your voice and interact with the camera to be successful.
Video combines image, sound and action. It’s the closest thing to one-on-one interaction, which is what makes it so powerful. But video’s ability to be real and life-like is what heightens our nervousness. We believe it will shine a spotlight on aspects of ourselves we’re self-conscious about—the way we look, how we sound or any awkward mannerisms we may have. These insecurities all tie back to what we want desperately to avoid—being judged poorly by others.
Overcoming camera anxiety involves facing head-on the specific fears or blocks you have about stepping in front of the video camera.
You must ask yourself, “Why do I get nervous in front of a camera?” Then you need to be brutally honest with your answer if the goal is to conquer your fears and evict them from your brain.
3: Common Reasons for Being Nervous on Camera
It’s time now to stare your camera fears directly in the eye!
We’re going to help you pinpoint exactly what it is about being on video that’s making you nervous. We’ll share some of the more common camera fears and then some tips on how to overcome them.
Fear of looking foolish
One of our biggest fears is looking foolish in front of others, particularly our peers.
It’s human instinct to want to be liked and respected. This is quite natural. Taken to an extreme, though, we can be held back by fears that we will seem foolish on camera and our estimation in the eyes of others will drop. The worry is that we will lose respect, particularly among people we respect.
Our take: One thing you want to keep in mind is that no one is perfect in everyday real life and we certainly don’t have to be perfect on video. Additionally, we tend to overinflate our perceptions of how others see us. It is never as bad as you imagine.
During our media careers, we’ve felt foolish at times, either because of something we said on national television or how badly an interview went. We had to learn the art of bouncing back by training ourselves to learn from mistakes that might have made us look silly. We even developed the ability to laugh at them.
You make a mistake, you learn, you laugh, you move on and you get better.
Fear of a negative reaction
Another common fear is negative feedback. What if viewers don’t like what I say or how I say it and leave a negative comment on my video?
When you put yourself out there on camera, it’s quite reasonable that you’d be worried about getting a negative reaction. No one likes the thought of being peppered online with unpleasant comments. Negative reviews hurt, especially when your sole intention is to connect with others and share your experience and skills.
Our take: As journalists, we learnt early on that not everyone was going to like us, no matter what we said or did.
Being in the public eye means you’ll encounter people who just don’t fancy you…for no reason in particular. That’s a reality none of us can change. What we CAN do is focus on doing our best and speaking to and serving those who see value in our work. Those are the only people who matter in your world.
You also want to be able to look at negative feedback objectively to determine whether there’s something in it to help you get better at what you do. When you strip away the bad vibes from stinging criticisms, sometimes there are lessons that can take you to the next stage of where you need to be.
Fear of not looking good
When we think about going on camera, we immediately worry about how we’ll look, right? Again, another natural human trait.
Some people, though, are extremely self-conscious about their appearance. They believe by doing videos they will only draw attention to their physical flaws. This is, perhaps, one of the more common trepidations about appearing on camera. Will we look unattractive, old, overweight, skinny?
Look, we get it. We live in a world that conditions us to focus on physical appearances. What’s crucial is that YOU focus on the mission behind doing videos. Keep your goals front and centre and any fears about what others may think about your looks will eventually melt away.
Our take: Audiences who are online with a particular goal—learning a new skill, getting specific information or just trying to unwind after a tough day—are not as caught up with the way we look as we think they are. Most viewers are chiefly concerned with whether we’re educating or entertaining them.
The brutal truth is, it’s not about you. It’s about what you offer. So, focus on what you’re sharing because that’s the primary interest of audiences.
Fear of not sounding good
Many of us don’t like the way we sound when recorded. It’s not necessarily that we dislike our voice. It’s just that the way we hear our voice on video sounds different to the way it does in our heads.
The cringe reaction to hearing your recorded voice for the first time is quite normal. It’s something we all experience and it should not hold you back in any way.
Our take: Recording yourself on camera regularly is the best antidote to feelings of discomfort of unfamiliarity with your recorded self. The more frequently you hear yourself in videos is the more at ease you’ll become.
4: How to Be Comfortable in Front of a Video Camera
So, we’ve listed all the rewards of conquering a fear of being on camera and identified common camera fears and how to tackle them. It’s time now for some more advanced techniques that will help you crush your camera anxiety and show you how to be comfortable on camera. These are some of the methods we teach our clients.
1. Replace fear with potential
Reprogram your mind with an idea or futurescape of what the video camera can do for you.
If you calculate the value of what clinging to your on-camera fears will do for your career or business, we’re willing to bet you’ll come up with zero. On the other hand, the number of positives that video can accomplish for you is infinite.
Programme your mind with the benefits, both personal and professional, of facing the camera. Your camera anxiety will easily be overwritten by this positive mental programming.
Our take: Go back to the list of benefits we told you to write down earlier. Read them over and envision yourself achieving all the wonderful things that overcoming your camera fear will bring into your life. Obsessing about the rewards, not your fears of being on camera, will give you the motivation to face the lens.
2. Choose a passion topic
A great way to ease into video and become more comfortable on camera is by speaking about something you’re passionate about.
Think of a topic in your industry that gets you fired up in conversations with colleagues or friends.
Talking about a subject you feel strongly about can minimise the anxieties which tend to paralyse people in front of the video camera. Your passion for the topic will cut through your nervousness and discomfort.
Our take: You surely have those conversations with friends where you get carried away about a project you’ve been working on or a business idea you’ve been developing. A good technique for neutering camera anxieties is to activate the passion you have for a particular topic and pour that into the camera lens.
3. Keep it short and sweet
There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than giving yourself a tonne of information to speak about on camera. Trying to keep track of a thousand points can amplify camera jitters.
Whittle down your message by sticking to the most important points. That ‘less-is-more’ approach will help make speaking on camera a less intimidating task.
Our take: Sharing only your most valuable information not only makes it easier for you to face the camera, it also works well for viewers. Today’s audiences are swamped with endless content and distractions. It’s far better to keep your video short and sweet, thereby, making it memorable and impactful.
4. Dress for success
This may sound a tiny bit shallow, but what you wear to do your videos can help temper that tendency to become nervous on camera.
Certain outfits give us a confidence boost. A sweater that fits, a top that flatters; sometimes dressing professionally makes us feel professional and like we have it all together and know what we’re about.
Our take: Dressing for success goes beyond having a well-put-together outward appearance. When you’re smartly dressed for the camera, this has a profound impact on your mindset and confidence.
5. Shoot your video in a comfortable spot
Just like the outfit you wear, the space where you record your videos can boost your frame of mind. This, in turn, leaves little room for nerves.
Your physical environment can influence your mood and mental state. The more comfortable you feel in your surroundings, the less overwhelmed you’ll be by fear and anxiety.
Our take: Engineering a high comfort level when shooting your videos can be as simple as setting up a cosy nook in your home. It needn’t be anything complicated, just a space that’s relatively quiet and where you feel relaxed and at ease. Many newcomers to video start off with a tidy corner in their bedrooms.
6. Take deep breaths
Do not underestimate the power of this simple technique. Deep breathing is effective at calming the mind and focusing your thoughts. The more focused your thoughts, the less likely a case of nerves will intrude on your on-camera delivery.
Measured breathing exercises work well to subdue bouts of anxiety. Slow, deliberate breaths tell the brain it’s okay to dial down the fight or flight response and take up a more relaxed mental posture.
Our take: It’s usually just before we go on camera that anxieties can really get the better of us. So, in the few minutes before you begin recording, take some deep breaths to coax your brain into relaxing.
7. Forget the little mistakes
Making mistakes is one of the biggest fears of going on camera. If you think about it, though, we don’t burden ourselves with being 100% perfect in our everyday lives. Why, then, do we build up that expectation for video?
Stumbling over a word or two is normal on camera. Additionally, it makes you come across as human and relatable. What you want to avoid is disillusionment because you’re not immediately fluent and charismatic in front of the lens. Those qualities take time to develop.
Our take: Don’t allow yourself to be derailed by minor mistakes. If you stumble on camera, pause, compose yourself and then keep going. It also helps to learn to laugh at your flubs and take your mistakes in stride.
You already have what it takes to overcome your camera anxiety. It’s just a question of learning how to deactivate your fears and activate your inbuilt abilities.
Don’t Let a Fear of Being on Camera Hold You Back!
As the reach and sprawling influence of video grow, it’s important to learn how to face the camera without fear.
Rather than interpret the increasing use of video in business as a nuisance, choose to see it as an opportunity. The more you focus on the countless ways video can be used to bring you closer to your goals, the less you’ll view the camera with limiting fear.
No matter the anxieties, you can learn how to overcome a fear of being on camera. The more videos you do, the more at ease you will become in front of the lens. It won’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen that way even for the pros. However, once you commit to learning the techniques for combatting on-camera nervousness, doing video will eventually become so second nature that an aversion to the lens will seem almost like a former life.
Don’t let fear stop you from picking up a skill that is a key part of achieving success today.