Many clients who are new to presenting on video tell me that they don’t like the way they come across on screen. They say they feel awkward, as though they are “talking into empty space”, or “talking to themselves”, or that they feel “self-conscious in front of the camera.”
A reader recently shared with me…
“I tend to be rather self-conscious and stiff in front of a camera. If I’m in a conversation with someone, there’s no problem since I get absorbed in the experience, but when it’s just me and a camera I get tongue-tied.”
I explain that this is common and that I hear this often. One of the main reasons they may feel this way is because it can feel artificial when you are delivering your message to a camera lens, as opposed to speaking to a real person.
In real life interactions (depending on your empathy skills) we can get a good read on a person, their energy levels, their emotional state, and if we are in rapport we will eventually match or lead the person with breathing patterns, vocal tone, and body language. Thanks to our brain’s mirror neurons, we subconsciously process a great number of visual cues and sensory feedback and can adjust ourselves accordingly.
Unfortunately, this does not happen when presenting to a video camera. We are speaking to something that does not offer us the sensory feedback that we have become accustomed to over millions of years of human interaction. Our mirror neurons are still firing, but the signals to our brain are now, “Hey, something’s not right here?” Our body unconscionably adopts the “freeze> fight> flight” stress response. Our Cortisol (stress hormone) levels rise, and this manifests in the body as tension, anxiety, self-consciousnesses, stiffness, getting tongue-tied etc.
As I wrote in a previous article, the camera does not give you any feedback. The video camera doesn’t blink, smile, speak, move, or give you encouraging feedback like a real person does; it’s just a machine observing you with an intense robotic stare. As you can imagine, this can be very off-putting when you are not used to it.
Turn the Tables in Your Favor!
Rather than let yourself be intimidated by this “machine”, try these following tips.
Use Your Imagination
What if while presenting to the video camera, you speak as if your most favorite person (one that simply adores you) is standing right there in the room with you? What if they were warmly encouraging you, cheering and applauding you as you speak? What if there is nothing you can do wrong in their eyes, no matter how many times you make mistakes, instead they just keep encouraging you to keep going?
Or if you like a more hands-on approach, hold the video camera in your hands ensuring that the lens always faces you. Walk around with it. Let it observe you. Show it things, teach it stuff “as if” it were a child. Tell the video camera your biggest fears and insecurities. Let it see your vulnerabilities, your emotions, your awkwardness. Be completely open with the video camera, yell at it, get mad at it, cry to it, dance in front of it, make faces at it. Record all of this and watch the playback.
Allowing the video camera to see all of this may trigger two things to happen:
Firstly, your “critical voice” will kick in and bring all of your inhibitions, insecurities and hangups to the surface. The idea here is to shine a light on them with your awareness, and clear any expressive blockages that you may have so that they no longer have any power over you.
Secondly, you’ll actually form a “intimate” connection with the camera, because you’ve now freely done things in front of it that you would probably never have done in front of another person without the fear of being laughed at, judged or ridiculed. By making the video camera become an extension of you, you can create an emotional fondness with the camera so that it won’t feel so uncomfortable or intimidating the next time you shoot your video presentations.
Best listener Ever
In fact, you could think of the video camera as being the best listener you’ve ever had! It will hang on every word you utter.
The camera won’t:
- It won’t interrupt you or attempt to make you wrong.
- It won’t get distracted. It will stay 100% focused on every breath that you take and every move that you make.
- It will keep going as long as you want it too.
- It will loyally observe you.
- The camera does not judge you nor will it criticize you.
- It never gets bored. It never zones out while you speak.
- It will never quit on you (well maybe its little battery will go flat after a while …) but you get the point!
That’s how you need to think when you are filming your video presentations. Turn things around psychologically. The camera is there to capture you! Your thoughts, words, and action – unconditionally.
For More Help With Your Video Presentations:
Managing Tension / Nerves
- 13 Fast Tension Busters for Appearing on Video
- 6 Tips to Master Your Nerves on Video
- How to Look Eye to Eye with the Video Camera
A Little Psychology 101
Have a burning question? Want me to cover a topic? Reach out to me here.
Or perhaps you are stuck and need a little guidance? Let me know worries here.
Otherwise, keep creating and keep it fun!
Cheering you with your video creations!