How to appear natural on camera

Struggling with your confidence when the camera is pointing in your direction? We've got some tips for you!

rowan@vimsy.co profile

Written by Rowan

Updated 2018-02-07

How to appear natural on camera

Appearing on video can be pretty daunting. There’s the anticipation beforehand, the uncomfortable feeling of having everyone’s eyes on you while the camera is rolling, and then the dread of knowing that other people who you don’t know are going to see it and potentially judge you.

Am I making your palms sweaty? If so, these tips should help you feel more confident on camera.

Check out our tips in video form. You can find more like this on our YouTube channel. Search "Vimsy".

1. Don’t panic

Sometimes your own self confidence can be the biggest barrier to looking your best on film. Unless your general demeanour is that of a frightened-looking person, your best bet is to try and silence that voice in your head that’s making you worry.

When you appear on camera you’re either being filmed by somebody else, or you’re filming yourself.

If you’re being filmed by somebody else, such as a professional video production crew, they’ll usually point out any issues that’ll stop you from coming across well. 

If your hair is sticking out or your shirt buttons are undone they’ll tell you, and they’ll also tell you if you’re not delivering the right answers to their questions or fluffing up your lines. They’ll usually want you to come across well because it’s in the best interest of the production as a whole that you do.

If you’re filming yourself, well, what can I say? You’re the star and the producer, and you have final say over what gets released to the world. What are you worrying about?

2. Prepare in advance

Do you know what makes most people look really uncomfortable? Doing something they haven’t prepared for. Treat your appearance on camera like an exam at school and make sure you do your homework.

Whether it’s a pre-written speech or you’re simply talking off-the-cuff, it’s not a bad idea to get some practise in before your filming date. If you’re being interviewed, see if you can request a copy of the questions in advance. Knowing your subject matter is essential for staying cool and calm while being filmed.

If you have a lot to remember, the more you practice the better your delivery will be. Reading from a script because you haven’t rehearsed is guaranteed to look bad. 

The moment you start reading your demeanour will change, and you’ll sound like a robot. Instead of injecting emotion and energy into what you’re saying, you’ll simply be reading words out loud. It will sound dreadful.

3. Give yourself enough time

Another big stress factor is not having enough time to do things at your own pace. A typical corporate video interview takes anywhere between fifteen and forty-five minutes to complete, not including the time it takes to set up the cameras, lights and microphones. If you’re doing something more complex, or you have more questions to answer, it might take longer. Or it might take no time at all.

However, the last thing thing you want is to find yourself pulled out of “the zone” by distractions from the outside world. Whether it’s a physical interruption from somebody who needs your urgent attention or simply the nagging knowledge that you have somewhere else to be, you can’t be in two places at once.

If your mind isn’t in the right place then you’re more likely to appear disengaged, stressed or distracted.

4. Be prepared to make mistakes (and repeat yourself)

Although I’ve suggested that you rehearse what you want to say, the reality is that you’ll forget lines, mispronounce words, or perhaps you’ll cough or sneeze halfway through a take. Don’t worry, it’s all normal. Everyone’s seen those late night TV blooper programmes where celebrities fluff their lines - often repeatedly. Even the best do it.

Don’t let little mistakes knock your confidence. It’s very rare for anybody to get it right first time.

It’s also worth noting that if you’re being filmed by somebody else and you are asked to do it again, it’s not always because you’ve made a mistake. There could be technical reasons, such as audio interference like a plane flying overhead or an emergency vehicle going by, or they might have changed the frame slightly.

Conclusion

So those were a few tips on how to appear natural on camera. I hope you find them useful and that your next filming experience is a little bit more comfortable!

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