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Top Fears for Going on Camera and How to Combat Them

Top Fears for Going on Camera and How to Combat Them

March 30, 2014
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SONY DSCIf you are not frequently in front of a camera or a natural speaker, creating video content for marketing could be challenging, even scary.

Some folks have been very successful marketing in ways that do not include video.  Maybe video just isn’t their “thing”.  And that is totally fine.  However, it is also no secret that video has increasingly becoming one of the more successful marketing strategies for selling a product or sending a company message.

51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide cite video as the type of content with the best ROI.  EMARKETER, 2013

According to Retail Touchpoints, the Step2 Company found that shoppers who viewed video were 174% more likely to purchase than viewers who did not. RETAIL TOUCHPOINTS CHANNEL INNOVATION AWARDS, 2012

If you think about it this way, it’s just another way of communicating.  As a business person, you have to talk to people on the phone, you have to talk to people face-to-face, you might have to talk to a whole group now and then.

How hard could it be to swap out the person or the small crowd and put a camera there instead?  Would you still be able to maintain the same eye contact, engagement, and steady stream of natural, intelligent sentences that you do with a person, to a camera?

A few weeks ago, I made my first video blog.  I tried to do it off-the-cuff.  No outline, no teleprompter, no practice, just me talking to the camera.  I imagined I was just meeting with someone for lunch to chat.  It didn’t work.  Somewhere between the time I decided on what I would say and the cue to begin speaking I changed into a blubbering, shy girl who forgot how to talk.

So, what happened?  Why was that so hard to do?  I have experience coaching those who are new to the camera on how to talk, where to look, what to do with the hands, what to do if they mis-speak, etc.  I have all sorts of strategies that work for different personality types.  But, the moment I tried to do it, I froze.  I forgot everything and couldn’t get the words out.  I had done exactly what I tell clients NOT to do, which is to just “go for it” with the idea that the comfort level when talking to groups and clients will be the same as talking on camera.  It isn’t.

There is one little, tiny difference between speaking to real people and speaking to a dark lens.  One that can change the whole nature and process of how you speak.  Even if you are confident in your message and have thought about it millions of times.  It’s simple.  Cameras are not people.

So, I thought about this and researched, and here’s what I came up with…

There ARE ways to get past this difference and have a successful video if you are patient and willing to work at it.  You CAN do this. I can do this!  So, let’s do this….

Let’s check out some top 5 fears for going on camera and then explore ways to combat them.


Fear #1 – “I must be perfect now, right now, as I record.” Television and video is “perfect”.  I mean, when you watch TV and see a commercial, it’s perfect.  The speaker doesn’t have any flaws, they don’t stumble on their words, or laugh nervously.  And news reporters, they hardly ever mess up.  All these things were made perfect for TV with talent, rehearsal, and editing.

When that camera is rolling and you get the cue to start talking, it’s probably hard not to think of the folks on TV and try to be like them.  But, unless you are used to speaking on camera, it’s not going to be TV perfect.  And even those who are used to speaking on camera had to start somewhere.

Here’s the cool thing about recording a video (when not recording live).  You can record a stand-up as many times as you need in order to get it right.  Once you have it, or several versions of “it”, you can edit pieces together to make your perfect video message.  And then, you don’t ever have to do it again!  It’s okay if it takes 15-30 takes.  No one will ever know.


Fear #2. “I look so darn odd when I watch myself back, do I really sound that way?”  Most people have a hard time watching themselves on video because it looks so out of the ordinary.  But, is it really?  What you are seeing and hearing when you watch yourself back on video is how people see you normally.  But it’s not how you see or hear yourself normally as you can only see yourself reversed in a mirror and hear your voice from inside your own head.

Clients I have worked with cannot stand to watch themselves back because it’s uncomfortable, they are not used to seeing themselves as the rest of the world sees them.  But, if they take the time to watch and see what others see, it helps them modify their on-camera presence for the better.  The more they watch themselves, the more they get used to seeing themselves this way and can move past the “weird”.  Try recording yourself talking about whatever comes to your mind.  Recite your address, talk about your grocery list.  Then watch it.  And then watch it again.  And then, perhaps, again.  You get my drift.


Fear #3. “Nobody will like what I have to say.”  Not being accepted by others is a huge fear for many situations, not just on camera.  You might hesitate to record your message because you are afraid your ideas will be rejected or that no-one will agree with what you are saying, perhaps a viewer’s opinion of you will change.  You know what?  If so, who cares?  If you get a few mean people who feel the need to put you down, let it go.  Because the other 99% of your viewers want you to succeed, they are on your side.  Three-quarters of your audience share the same type of fear!  What’s different about you is that you have taken this humongous step towards overcoming it.  So, way to go!


Fear #4. “I cannot get over the feeling that I am sitting here talking to myself.”  Talking to a camera, a machine, is very unnatural to begin with. Talking to a machine and maintaining enthusiasm and engagement as if you were receiving a steady stream of reactions is a whole new ball game.  You need eyeballs.  Find a picture of your best bud and tape it by the camera lens.  Go get a few stuffed animals from your kid’s room and set them up.  Get yourself some friendly faces that will supply you with undivided attention, stand in front of them, and tell them about your day.  Do this until it stops feeling silly.  Then practice talking about a specific topic.  One you might consider recording.  Get used to talking out loud and hearing your voice fill the room.  The more you do it, the easier it gets.  Remember, Actors, Anchors, journalists, etc, they probably rehearse before getting on camera. Every one of them had to get used to talking to a faceless machine as well.


Fear #5 “What if I forget what I’m going to say?” So what happens when you’ve practiced, you’ve put a picture of your friend next to the lens, and you’ve talked out loud to “no one” more than you’d like to admit, but then something new happens.  You forget your material.  It suddenly falls out of your head and you don’t even remember how to start.

If you have ever had material to share in the past, how did you do it?  Did you write it down?  How did you write it down?  Was it long paragraphs, or was it short notes that you could easily glance at without having to read through?

The same goes for speaking on camera.  Keep it short, maybe make a series of short videos.  Anything more than a couple minutes tends to be too long anyway.

Start by writing all that you want to say in perfect sentences.  Then, make an outline.  List the major points.  From this, create minor points that are more developed and perhaps have more of the wording and language you’d like to use when you talk. Practice saying these.  Read them out loud several times.  Your brain will start to remember these lines the moment you say the first word.  And If you do skip something by mistake, you are the only one who will know it.

Don’t let the fear of speaking on camera hold you back.  You have stuff to say, and we want to hear it!  I plan to use these tips and tricks to help myself speak with more confidence in front of the camera, I hope you will to.  Please leave a comment below.  Do you have tricks to overcome this fear that have worked for you?


Check out these related articles about the fears of public speaking.  These articles share similar tactics for speaking in front of the camera.



photo by: byJoeLodge
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