Blog Graphic: Face the Camera Without Fear

How to Overcome a Fear of Being on Camera: Easy Tips Proven to Work

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So, you’re sold on the immense power of video to promote your business, BUT the thought of appearing on camera is terrifying.  

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 just another part (a big part too!) 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 a fear of being on camera is holding you back.

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: 

1. Why it’s important to learn how to overcome camera fear—some key benefits to confronting on camera jitters.

2. Why do I get nervous in front of a camera—going beyond the paralysing nervousness, understanding its deeper causes.

3. Common reasons for being nervous on camera—unravelling the brain’s protection protocols keeping you from going on camera.

4: How to be comfortable in front of a video camera—tried and true techniques of the pros for becoming comfortable in your videos. 

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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 more deeply ingrained in so many parts of our lives, if you’re one of those folks who gets nervous about being on camera, you definitely want to learn how to squash your camera fear and anxiety.

Fear of the camera is, unfortunately, an effortless, natural instinct - programming the mind with the success that video can bring, though, takes work.

1: Why it’s important to learn how to overcome camera fear

Audiences 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. 

Viewers can sense camera anxiety and may come to the wrong conclusions about you based on these nervousness markers. 

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 when on camera. To achieve those enviable traits in video, you have 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
  • Forging stronger bonds with customers
  • Earning respect and trust in your niche
  • Becoming a recognized brand in your industry

All these pluses lead to the ultimate result—success.

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 running a video production company for over a decade we’ve encountered some, shall we say, 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 – fatal embarrassment. 

Fear can be an indiscriminate defence mechanism, shielding us against danger but also holding us back from opportunity.

So why does the video camera trigger such crippling anxiety in some folks? 

Well, the answer is more obvious than you might think. We’re naturally programmed to worry about what other people think of us. 

Using the medium of 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. Those are all the elements that heighten our nervousness. 

Because video is so real and life-like, 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 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

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 on-camera triggers.

Fear of looking foolish

One of our biggest fears is looking foolish in front of others, particularly our peers. We don’t want anyone to think we’re struggling, or doing a poor job.

This fear is further magnified if we’re part of top management as we may feel pressure to come across as exceptionally smart and confident. How can you have gotten to where you are and yet seem so unsure of yourself? 

Our tip: 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.

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?

Our tip: During our media careers, we learned 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. 

Fear of not looking good

Mention going on camera and many of us immediately think about how we’ll look. Right?

Will we look unattractive, old, overweight, skinny?

Our tip: Audiences 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, the knowledge and expertise, 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.

When you speak you hear your voice in two ways: aurally, as the sound is conducted to your ears through the ear and internally, through the bones in your skull. This additional audio input creates lower tones, influencing the way you sound in your head. 

A recording of yourself, however, doesn’t have the additional ‘sound processing’. So you voice sounds higher – unlike you. 

Our tip: 

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. 

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4: How to be comfortable in front of a video camera

So we’ve listed all the rewards of learning how to overcome camera fear and identifying our deepest fears about being on camera. It’s time now for the techniques that will help you crush your camera anxiety.

These are some of the methods we share with our clients so they learn how to be comfortable on camera.

1. Replace fear with potential

Reprogram your mind with an idea or futurescape of what the 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 video can accomplish for you is infinite. 

Program 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 earlier to write down. 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 becoming 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 – stick 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 video shoots can help temper that tendency to become nervous on camera. 

Certain outfits, for reasons unknown to science, 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.

The more comfortable you feel in your surroundings, the less overwhelmed you’ll be by fear and anxiety.

Our take:

Engineering that comfort 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 at ease about expressing yourself on camera. 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 that a case of nerves will intrude on your on-camera delivery. 

Psychologists often recommend to patients moments during the day for breathing exercises. Measured breathing patterns work well to subdue bouts of anxiety. 

Slow, deliberate breaths tell the brain it’s OK 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. 

Don’t allow yourself to be derailed by minor mistakes on camera. Just keep going. It also helps to learn to laugh at your flubs and take those mistakes in stride. 

Our take: PRO TIP: Reboot. Take your lead from the pros, pause and pick up again with a complete thought. Remember, no apologies needed, keep a good sense of humor, stay focused and forge ahead.

Conclusion

Rather than interpret the increasing use of video in business as a nuisance, choose to see it as an opportunity. 

There are lots of people in the online community earning a living but keen to avoid stepping in front of a camera at all costs. 

As the reach and sprawling influence of video grows, being camera shy is not going to be a life raft camera skeptics can cling to for much longer. 

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.

If you come away from this blog post with anything, it should be this – commanding the attention of audiences by speaking in a compelling and convincing way in videos won’t happen overnight. 

It didn’t happen that way even for the pros. However, once you commit to learning and applying the techniques for combatting on-camera jitters, you’ll master video and be seen in your industry as someone who really knows their stuff. 

Being on camera will eventually become so second nature – the past aversion to the lens will seem almost like a former life. 

Don’t let fear stop you from picking up a skill that is today, a key part of achieving success.

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