I will never forget the first time I had to go in front of a camera and talk as though there was nothing out of the ordinary going on. As if there were no lights shining directly on my face, as if there was no bottomless eye of a lens staring at me, as if I were someone who suddenly had confidence and articulation. How hard could it be? I had a teleprompter. I could just read it enthusiastically and smile, right?
Something amazing happened that day as I began to speak in my college television studio with several other communication majors standing around watching. I experienced a series of automatic changes that I had never felt before. My mouth would not turn up into a smile without my entire face wobbling. My eyes began to water and I forgot how to blink. My neck turned to stone, my face turned to fire, and I had an uncontrollable urge to wipe my nose on my sleeve. But somehow, a voice came out of me. One that I had never heard before. It was so small, yet so loud at the same time. A tumble of words fell out as I began to read what was on the teleprompter. I imagine I did not pause between words, or breathe, or blink. I am not sure, because all I could concentrate on was the scrolling white text that seemed to have come to life to taunt me. My odd sounding voice filled the entire room and I felt so very exposed, all I could do was push through it and hope to never ever ever have to do it again.
That was the year 1998. The internet and media were full force at the time and I wanted to be a part of it–bad. But, it was clear that I should not be in front of the camera. I would stay nice and safe in my headphones, in the control room, and leave the talent to do the talking, and reading, and smiling.
Since then, things are a tad different in the world of media and marketing. So very different. This is the time to show your face and connect with people. It is becoming part of the everyday routine. And as much as an introverted person may hate to talk to the world, it has become almost necessary should that person want use the social avenue to market themselves. And it’s a good way to market, if you can do it.
Since that day in class with the teleprompter 16 years ago I have since worked in the video production industry and have coached many many people on how to prepare and conduct themselves on camera. I have tips and tricks and guidelines for every personality type. I plan to share this, but to start, I want to place myself in those shoes. I have decided to go back in front of the camera and try again.
Ultimately my goal is to be that person who stands in front of a camera and talks without any notes, without any practice, without any stammering or self-conscious issues at all. I plan to get there, though at this point it may take me another 16 years to do it. However! I have to start somewhere. I have taped a video blog. I made myself stand in front of a camera and talk, without a prompter, without practice, without a better chosen outfit and hairdo.
I want you all to join me on this journey. As hard as it was to do this, I plan to do it again, and again. I will be that person who speaks with confidence and articulation. I am sharing this first blog with you in the hopes that not too long from now I can write a blog about how far I’ve come from this first time.
This video blog is about the importance of keeping your gaze directed on your audience (in this case, the camera lens). There are many many reasons to have a good Eyeline when you are speaking, and I touch on maybe a fifth of these points as I was having trouble getting through the first sentence. So, it’s short, and shaky, and awkward, etc etc, but here ya go!
Now, the magic and power of editing has made it possible for me to keep this video short and also maintain a small amount of dignity. But, because I am crazy, I decided to also share with you a very brief snippet of the number of takes I did before I came out with something workable. Be kind.
Thanks for reading this far! Please share your thoughts. I’d love to connect with you and share horror stories, I mean share tips for this fantastic digital tool we have available to us.