One of the things I deal with most often as a producer is someone who is really nervous about being on camera. And I totally get it, I remember some of my first times on camera where I was sooo nervous, all I could do was nod my head, say "cool" and then freeze in between answers and look at my notes. Yikes!
It was really embarrassing and I knew I had to do something to improve. So I started watching people on TV that I really admired and took notes. That gave me the confidence to start trying new things each time I had a chance to go on camera. Back then, it was a lot more difficult to get time in the studio, today, you can record your practice on your phone in the privacy of your home!
So when I work with someone who hasn't been on camera before or has had a bad experience, I encourage them to watch someone they really relate to on TV or the internet and notice what they do. Don’t try to mimic them - use them as a a visual reference of how they ask and answer questions and how certain actions come across on camera.
Why We Get Nervous Before We Go on Camera
There’s lots of reasons people freeze up or feel nauseous when they think about being in front of the camera. Even Hollywood stars get nervous before they perform - they naturally want to deliver a stellar, even Academy Award worthy performance and that's a lot of pressure!
And because we want to do a great job, we have internalized our fear of failure, looking or sounding stupid and fear takes over our physical senses. Happily, you can learn to harness your jitters and turn them into positive energy and presence with a little bit of practice.
Tips to Help You Relax
I learned some of these tips from Hollywood actress Barbara Niven. She's been on stage for more than 25 years and she says she still gets nervous before auditions and performances!
Remember, your on camera appearance is an opportunity to share your message and serve and help others. Thinking about this really helps to shift your energy from focusing on you, to those you want to help. Try these tips, they work!
Create a strong outline for what you want to say - NEVER memorize answers - you’ll sound robotic and if you forget your answers - typically you’ll freeze (like I did) and lose your place. Practice your key messages ahead of time until you can deliver them naturally. That way you can spend your energy engaging with your audience.
Breathe deeply - three times, in and out and slowly count to five. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. If you are in a public place, breathe through your nose taking very deep breaths. Take time to become of highly aware of your surroundings. Turn your attention to your external environment instead of within. Notice details, smells and sounds.
Listen to music - Think of an event or memory or song that makes you really happy or powerful. Visualize being there and how you feel. You will bring that energy with you into the moment. If you can’t listen to music you can create the same effect by imagining the song in your head. Smile!
Move your body and say Yes! Moving around helps you to get your blood flowing and break the thought patterns that are keeping you stuck in fear.. She does this before auditions. To use this trigger, stand up, jump up and reach your arms into the air like you are trying to grab the clouds and count to three (1-2-3-) and say YES! Do this three times with each YES! getting louder. Practice this at home until you can connect to this feeling. You'll be able to do this silently inside your head (so you don’t feel so geeky in front of an audience) to get the same results.
There's are lots more things you can do, these are a few very powerful tips to get you started. They key is to practice them when you are in other situations where you are feeling anxious. They way you can call on them easily when you are getting ready for your on camera appearance.
I’d love to hear from you and some of your on camera challenges whether it’s for photos or video. If you haven’t already downloaded your free Get Camera Ready Guide, you can get it here.
Here’s to your transformation from being shy and scared to feeling fearless and confident on camera!