003: How to Be More Natural On Camera

Many people nowadays recognize the incredible value, especially for online business owners, coaches and service providers:Being on camera is truly a wonderful way to market your services. So in this video we are going to talk about five very specific things that you can do to be a lot more natural on camera.

As an online business coach, I see it happen very often when someone is new to video, and this happens to all of us, so it is just part of knowing how to do it, and how not to do it. Although I am going to save you the effort of learning it the hard way by teaching you in this video.

What happens is, when we first get on camera— have you ever done this before to a friend? Hey let me say that on camera. Suddenly they see the camera and suddenly it’s like very thing is really weird and they start talking like a robot, or nothing comes out natural at all. That totally happens. I am over exaggerating just a bit, but we feel those feelings often times when we are just starting out on video.

So I want to give you five specific tips. Of these five tips, two which I am going to start with, are the two things that you must do. Two are going to be two things you must not do, and then I am going to give you one of the best tricks that has really saved me and a lot of my clients I have been working with tons of time and energy, both in the recording of videos, and in the editing of videos.

So whether you are editing your own videos, or if you are hiring it out; you want it to be saving a lot of time, not just your own time, but if you are paying for someone else to edit the videos, then it is in your best interests for it not to take them extra time either.

What to do on Camera.

Make Eye Contact with the Camera Lens

Right now I am speaking directly into my camera. So where I set up my camera is about eye level, it’s like right here for me. I am looking directly into, so it feels like I am looking right at you, right? It feels like oh she’s look right at me! What if I did this? If I was looking just off camera, and I am giving really great content, but if I am not directly looking at you, then it comes off a little weird, right?

The other thing is people who have what I call shifty eyes. It is like when you are looking all over the place. Again, the content of what you’re sharing might be really great, but when you are looking all around the place it just doesn’t come off as natural. So it is so important to look directly into the camera. There are lots of ways to practice that; I can do that in a separate video for you if that would be helpful. But one of the best ways to do is it just to think that it is like eye contact.

Think that the camera lens is like someone’s eyeballs.

A great way to practice when you are out and about is to– when you are actually having conversation with people; look into their eyes and tell yourself that this is what you would do if you were on camera right now. So let’s get into the habit of that.

Okay so that is the first one; eye contact with your camera; look directly into the lens.

Smile While You Talk

The second one is to smile. Again, you might think this goes without saying, but imagine– I have tried not to do it, my whole life I have been practicing to really smile on camera, because I just know it drastically changes the energy of not only how I show up to the camera, but also how you as the listener are able to receive it. So I am going to try and not smile, I am saying I have to try and not smile because with practice you learn over and over and over how to do something, you are going to do the same thing. I can’t even think, my brain can’t think without a smile.

People smile when they talk in person, right?

So when you are not smiling and engaging with your audience, especially with live video. You got to, right? So it would be the same if someone was standing in front of you and they were talking to you without a smile. I am not saying you have to be constantly cheesing it up either. I am not saying that, but a smile goes a long way.

To practice that I would recommend practicing out in public, it doesn’t have to be you practice right on camera, although that’s a great way of doing it if no one is around. But practice as you are having conversation with friends and family. Even on the phone practice smiling. I have done this before when I first started on camera work when I was in Los Angeles I learned all these skills. What I did to practice was actually talk on the phone, talk to your mom, talk to your boyfriend, talk to whomever; when you are on the phone stand in front of a mirror. Watch yourself as you are speaking. You will notice so many different things, and it helps a lot to stay in the moment because you are right there with someone on the phone. But it also allows you the opportunity to stay engaged.

Now those are the two things you must do.

What NOT to do on Camera:

Don’t Hold Your Eyes Open

The first thing I don’t want you do is hold your eyes open. That’s what I call holding your eyes open. So in pageantry for year and years I have been a pageant coach. We talk about the dear in the headlights look. And it’s this look like you are frozen, and a dear is about to get smashed by a car in the headlights.

The dear in the headlights look is almost like you are holding your eyeballs open, like it needs work to be held open. Doing this on camera is super unnatural.

Instead just use your facial expressions as you normally would; talking with a friend, or talking with clients, or talking even to a group of people. If you’re in a group and you do public speaking; that’s the kind of facial expressions you want to you. Just because the camera comes on– I actually just did that because that made me think of it. But having a stiff body often comes with holding the eyes open. We get very– I have to be professional. So that holding the eyes open comes with the stiff body. So loosen it up and just have gentle eyes. So that is what not to do, that was number three.

Don’t Repress Your “isms”

Number four is don’t suppress or repress your isms. I have Alycia-isms, things that are just part of what I do and who I am. One of the things that I do often is sing. So if I am trying to make a point I will often just sing the end of it. That is just something I do. It is really hard for me to suppress that, because I do that in normal conversation with people, I do with my clients over the phone, I do it with my husband. It is just something that is an ism, part of my character, part of my personality and how I show up in the world.If I were to try and have a conversation with you, and be repressing that; trying to hold it back. I would have to actively thing about– don’t do it. It would make me a lot less natural on camera. So don’t suppress your isms.

The same goes with your hand gestures. Of course I recommend you don’t have hand gestures in front of the camera for many reasons; lighting, focus and of course that is just distracting. So keep your hands on the sides or below. But if I were to repress my hand movements, I really feel like not only is it difficult for my brain to think, because I do use my hands when I speak. But also I feel using my hands allows me to convey what I’m saying so much more. I wanted to give you that little sample so you could see for yourself.

So don’t suppress your isms; if you have certain things you say, an accent, or if you are bilingual and every now and again want to throw in different words; that’s awesome, that’s all part of your personality.

In fact that will be the thing that people end up coming back for; you will learn that. I remember when I was working in Los Angeles, I had an agency and was wanting to be a model and on camera host. Now I learned that for me modeling was not really what I wanted to do. Turned out hosting was much more up my alley. But what I found, my mentors were telling me:

Your flaws are what get you booked.

That is not just in modeling. Like Cindy Crawford had her mole, and other friends of mine have certain types– birthmarks, or a height that is different from everybody else, or certain type of hair. Those type of things that make you stand out; that’s what gets you booked as a model.

In hosting, and even in this kind of work, when you are engaging with your clients; the thing that helps you stand out is your isms and your personality. So when you are suppression that, it makes it not only unnatural, but it allows your audience to not feel as connected with you, you know? So bring on your isms, bring them on, alright so that was number four.

Emotionally Pre-Frame

This tip is actually specifically related to pre-recording your videos. Often times I will batch record a series of videos that maybe I will be using for my sales finals, or maybe I will be using it for a launch, or even for my Youtube channel. I batch record several videos at a time. When you do that, sometimes your information is spinning around in your head, and maybe you are not using a Teleprompter– there are pros and cons to that, that’s another topic for a different day.

But when you are pre recording video, sometimes as you are going through the process you might go off on a path where you are like, oh that’s not what I wanted to say so you stop. Okay you mentally rewind and then you want to start again.

Here is what will often happen; people do not get like a running start, they kind of just go, you know? In editing, when you are editing that in post, it makes it really choppy and appear very unnatural. Let me give you an example of what this is like, then I would ask you to try it yourself as well. In fact I just helped my husband, I help people launch their own Youtube channels, and Facebook live shows and things like that through startyourshow.com. My husband is starting his show, so I was helping him with this just recently. It was something I didn’t know was natural, so that’s why I want to teach you about it.

The way that you start the video often comes from the place of emotion that you just left. So instead here is what I want you to do. When I was working with an on camera host trainer, so this is a woman, her name is Marki Costello, she is one of the most sought after trainers for on camera work in Los Angeles. Works with all the major hosts. I did a boot camp with her and this is where I learned this trick I am about to show you.

What she says is, to pre frame your line, whether it’s an audition, or the line for your video or whatever you’re delivering; to pre frame it with a verbal or a non verbal emotion.

So what that could be if my line is that I am about to teach you a video tutorial on makeup for a night out. Then the emotion that is associated with that is excitement, or maybe a little glamour, that type of thing, right? But if I keep saying that line as a host over and over, I might start to feel like, ugh I keep messing up. So now my real emotion is frustration. If I show up with that level of frustration into that line, then that is the emotion that the editor has to work with and post. You may even be the editor so that’s even more difficult.

Now you are like, how am I going to blend these things? How am I going to make it work? So instead, pre-frame by getting into the emotional state of whatever it is you’re talking about. If the line is that we are going to do a makeup tutorial video, I have to think about glamour and a night out. Okay so get into the headspace of that. If you goof up, that’s okay. Pause, get back into the headspace of it, then go again.

I wanted to give you a little bit of flavor. This is how we record pre-recorded videos. There are things swirling in your head, got all these ideas, sometimes you get tongue twisted. So it really does go like that where often you try till you nail it. So this trick will help you, it’s called pre-frame. So if you’re going, you’re going, you’re going then all of a sudden you are like, ugh I lost my spot I have to start over. Even if you stand up and take a break and come back pre-frame. Get into the headspace, think about your audience, think about where they are right now, get into, then deliver your line. I do this for live video as well. When I am going live I want to share from the heart.

That is a massive trick. That is like some high level stuff. I would love to have you practice that and let me know how it goes. I promise you, it will make a massive difference in the editing of your videos, because it is so much easier to edit when you have a long pause, a reset.

Oh actually here is another way of doing that, so it’s not just about the non verbal, but also the verbal. So if you are preparing to– maybe in the middle of your video you are talking about something that is like kind of sad. You may even go, you know blah, blah. That deep sigh before it’s delivered, that can help dramatically. Even if it’s something exciting.