Being nervous is normal – especially when you are being filmed. Managing nerves is something we all learn to do throughout our lives – think job interviews, driving tests, exams, dates and dentistry visits. Being on camera is no different – there are strategies that you can employ to manage your nerves and channel them positively.
In this article I will offer some tips to those of you who get nervous in front of the camera. I will also offer some advice to the team behind the camera around how they can help their contributors feel at ease.
Firstly, see this video of Steve Jobs at what could be his first ever TV appearance. Jobs became famous for his showmanship and it is interesting to see him experiencing pre-shoot nerves – just as you or I would.
Steve Jobs early TV appearance:
Reducing your nerves for the camera
Not all of these techniques will work for everyone – we are all different. But don’t knock them before you try them!
One of the best ways to reduce nerves is to prepare. Preparing will give you the chance to practice what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Knowing what you will say in advance will make you feel more confident about the whole experience. Confidence will reduce your nervousness.
Channel your nerves with warm up exercises
Nerves really are a natural reaction to situations that involve some pressure to perform well. Consider warming up before being on camera to use up some of that nervous energy. Warming your body up can help you loosen up and relax. A few jumping jacks should do the trick.
It isn’t possible to completely do away with nerves. What you can do is think about how to not look nervous. This is all about your body language and how you hold yourself. Hands are extremely revealing when it comes to nervousness. If you can’t control your hands try gently clasping them together on your lap – this will avoid them wandering to your face etc. Crossing your ankles is also a great way to stop you moving around too much and can make you look really relaxed.
It is surprising how many people forget to breathe when they are nervous. Don’t be afraid to pause between sentences to give yourself enough time to take a breath and to exhale. Not only is the oxygen good for your nerves, pacing yourself in this way also has the added bonus of making you look composed and professional.
Whether you are required to talk direct to camera, or an interviewer, eye contact is essential. Eye contact shows confidence and will make you far more engaging. If you have to talk to camera, try your best to imagine that you are talking to one person in particular. Imagine that person and speak as you would if they were sat in front of you. This should help you feel less nervous and will also make you come across as approachable, friendly and calm.
Picture one person when you are talking to the camera – makes you more engaging and personal
Helping your contributors to reduce their nerves
If you are a business making a video that involves working with non-professional contributors, it is important that your contributors feel comfortable if you want to get the best results. There are a numbers of things you can do to put them at ease.
Give your contributors as much notice as possible and include some guidance about what exactly they can expect on the day. Reducing their fear of the unknown will certainly help them feel less nervous. It is therefore essential that you put your promises into practice when it actually comes to the shoot. If appropriate, send them their interview questions or a ‘script’ of sorts in advance. Giving someone the time to prepare can do wonders for their confidence.
Put yourself in their shoes
How would you feel if you were in their shoes? You would probably want a drink of water at hand and you would probably want to know where the restrooms are (like Steve Jobs!). You would want to be told in plain language what is expected of you and you would want the crew to make you feel comfortable, maybe by making small talk and having a laugh. If you aren’t shooting live, it wouldn’t do any harm to tell them that mistakes are fine and there is capacity to have another go at answering a question.
Show that you are grateful!
Thank your contributors in advance of the shoot. It will help for them to know that you appreciate what they are doing for you – for some people being on camera is an enormous task and takes a lot.