Through my work here at TLP, I’ve seen people of every level struggle the first time they get in front of the camera. From CEOs to graduates, I’ve seen people of every level jam up and struggle the first time they need to record a video.
You’re by no means alone if you’re struggling or scared of the video camera. Trust me – it gets much easier with a little bit of time and practice.
Our advice to clients is always that it takes about three sessions in front of the camera to really feel natural. So with time and practice, you’ll be videoing like a pro (and perhaps even a youtube celebrity!).
In any case, here’s 10 tips that will help you get more out of video from day one:
1. Film early in the day, when you’ve got plenty of energy
Great videos need energy and verbal fluidity. Most people have more of both early in the day. Don’t film after a full day of sales meetings. Don’t film after a draining board meeting.
2. Have a conversation with someone behind the camera
One of the easiest ways to film great video content is to have a conversation with someone directly behind the camera. Write a list of questions for them to ask you (maybe even questions you commonly get asked in sales meetings). By focusing on the conversation and answering their questions, you’ll quickly forget there’s a camera in the room. Then it’s just a matter of finding highly engaging segments from the conversation to use – and there will be plenty.
3. Everyone hates the way they look on camera
It’s a fact of life that no-one really likes the way they look on video. But persist, because seeing yourself present will make you a better presenter. You’ll have much more boardroom awareness of the unconscious mannerisms in your presentation style.
4. Script, but not too much
For first timers it’s a really BAD idea to fully script the video and work with a teleprompter. You won’t present as natural and authentic, and that matters a lot more than any line of your script. Start by scripting with bullet points that structure what you want to say, but give you room to talk naturally about each point. It’s always a good idea to run these through verbally. No matter how good a script reads, there will be places that don’t work when you say them out loud. And the first time you talk to a script will never be the smoothest.
5. Avoid editing wherever possible
Editing gets really expensive, really quickly. If you’ve ever tried to edit a video (even in iMovie), you’ll know it takes a long time (multiple hours per minute). The alternative is to keep your videos short, and shoot in one take, so pieces don’t have to be combined together. For business blogs and testimonials. Wherever possible, avoid editing. Even beginners can get through 1-2 minutes of video using tip #2
6. Keep it short
TED talks can hold someone’s attention online for 20 minutes. But they’re the exception and not the rule (and they’ve been practicing for at least 6 months prior to delivery). For business videos, you’ll struggle to retain viewers beyond 90-120 seconds, no matter how interesting you think the content is. So keep your early videos short until you have a deeper understanding of what really engages your audience. Shorter videos take a lot less time to record, and you’ve got less chance of blunders in delivery.
7. Bring 150% of your normal energy into the room
You want to talk a little faster and be a little more animated than you are normally. Because video is a one way conversation, you need a little bit more energy than normal to hold the attention of the viewer.
8. Push through blunders
Resist the temptation to yell “oh f*ck”, “start again” or “I really screwed that up”. Stay cool and finish talking through what you wanted to say. There’s two reasons to do this. Firstly, you can easily verbally ‘block’ yourself through repeated stopping and starting. You want to remain flexible and loose, and that means running with your key messages and recovering from blunders. Think of it in exactly the same way as you would in a sales meeting – no matter how badly you enter the room, you keep going. Secondly, you’ll be surprised how often your pause or blunder doesn’t look as bad as you thought it was. Watching it back, you’l find more usable footage than you thought.
9. Remind yourself what’s most important
It’s easy to get focused on the script, camera gear, lighting etc, and forget that there’s a person on the other side of the camera that you’re trying to convince. What do you want them to understand, or do? It’s always a good idea to step back and ask yourself “What’s the #1 thing I need to get across in this video?”
10. Use lists of three
If you’re struggling with a script, use a list of three instead. A list of three is just a list of the three most important points that you want to make on any topic. There’s three benefits to this approach:
- Instead of worrying about delivering a long script, focus on remembering and emphasising the three points. Just work through your points, counting them off on your fingers.
- For a speech or video of any length, you’re unlikely to get the audience to remember much more than three ideas in any case – so you may as well emphasise your most important points.
- Using this approach gives videos a strong natural structure. It’s easy for the audience to follow along and understand where you are in delivery.