9 Tips for Looking Good for Your First Time on Camera
28 February 2019
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It’s your first time getting in front of the camera. You know video marketing is important for today’s marketing landscape, and you’re on board. But it can still be nerve-wracking being the one out there in front of the lens. We’ve pulled together our guide to looking good on camera, to make things just that little bit easier.
Before we talk about how you should act, we should tick off a couple of pointers on how you should look. Make sure you check yourself out in the mirror before and, if possible, at sporadic points during, filming. Check you haven’t got toothpaste on your shirt, lipstick or food on your teeth, unruly eyebrows, or anything else that could be distracting or look unprofessional.
You don’t have to be a supermodel to get in front of the camera, you should be aiming for authentic more than Hollywood-ready, but neat and tidy are definitely important.
While clothing is obviously part of your appearance, it’s important enough to mention on its own. First – wear something you’re comfortable in. You don’t want to be struggling with tight sleeves, a riding-up hemline, or a shirt that won’t stay tucked in when you’re trying to act natural on camera.
Avoid clothes that are striped or checked – these can cause the camera to freak out and do some strange things to the footage. Oh, and stay away from green if you’re planning to use a green screen – unless you want to be literally just a talking head!
Spend some time with your script before filming. Don’t memorise it, or you’ll end up sounding rehearsed and robotic, but make sure you’re familiar with it and won’t need to have a full script in front of you.
Practice saying the words aloud – if anything doesn’t feel like something you’d say naturally, see if you can rewrite it into your own way of speaking. Stumbling over unfamiliar words is definitely something to avoid if you want to sound natural on camera!
One thing a lot of people do when they get in front of the camera for the first time is freeze up. They stop breathing, stop blinking, and talk rapidly trying to get through everything in one breath. Stop. Slow down. Even if you’re nervous, you don’t want that to shine through. Take a moment, take a few deep breaths. Then continue to breathe normally.
If you look uncomfortable, your audience will sense it. So watch your body language. If you’re more comfortable sitting behind a desk, try that. If standing gives you the chance to loosen up, use that. If you talk with your hands, don’t try to completely stifle that impulse – but do be aware of not overdoing it.
Watch back a couple of takes and see how your body language comes across – make adjustments and try again.
People often speed up their speech when feeling nervous or under pressure, so remind yourself to speak slowly and not rush. Some teleprompters have speed settings that allow you to slow things down to keep your pace even.
But don’t feel like you have to remove all elements of your personality and speak too slowly or calmly – enthusiasm is contagious and people are more likely to connect with your video if you sound like yourself.
When you’re in front of a camera, you can’t actually see your audience. But you still need to look at them, or they won’t connect with you at all. So you need to look at the lens, so the footage will show you looking directly at the viewer.
You’ll want to avoid aggressively staring, but at the same time you do need to make eye contact. It’s not the easiest balance, so try a few takes and watch them back, then adjust. If it’s easier, a picture of a friendly face just above the lens will give you someone to direct your words to, making the eye contact feel a lot more natural.
If you’re nervous, a dry mouth is a definite possibility, so make sure you have a glass of water on hand to sip between segments/takes. Don’t let your voice cracking or a cough interrupt your flow – stay hydrated.
Notecards – if you’re not using a teleprompter – can be a useful reminder of what you’re planning to say, but don’t use them as a crutch. Just a quick glance to keep track can help you feeling confident.
Oil-blotting papers are especially helpful if you’re worried about a bit of shine – you can get a variety of mattifying options and they’re great for men and women to stay looking cool, calm and collected on camera. Tissues will do, if you don’t have blotting papers available.
Try not to panic. If it’s your first time being filmed, or your hundredth, everyone gets nervous. But with digital filming, it’s simple enough to stop and try again, so try not to get too worked up about it. The more you stress about it, the harder it will be. So take some deep breaths, try out a yoga pose, or have a quiet sit down for a minute before you start, and try to enjoy it.