Let’s face it: Most of us probably don’t have extra funds in our budget to hire qualified on-air talent for every training or HR video we create. You need to get creative and tap into the talent you have access to—and sometimes that means yourself. The challenge is, just because you’re good behind the camera, doesn’t mean you’re going to be great in front of it.
We’ve looked at different ways to create better, more engaging videos with pre- and post-production techniques behind the camera, but what about getting better in front of the camera? If you’re not fortunate enough to be a former child actor or a born with a natural ability to know what to do with your hands on screen, try these tips and you’ll start feeling as comfortable in front of the camera, as you do behind it.
- Have a conversation: It can feel a little weird at first to stand and talk to a camera. But rather than talking to the lens, talk to the person behind the camera—and imagine they are the audience for the video. This is important when making training videos because you want to make sure sensitive and important information is being communicated in a way that is easily understood by the user.
- Be yourself plus: It’s a bit of a cliché, but unless you’re scripting to be someone else for your video, be yourself plus. It’s okay to be who you are on camera, but you’ll want to amp it up a bit. An old adage says, “The camera adds 10 pounds,” but it really saps your energy, so you’ll need to convey more of it. For most people, you’ll need to turn up the volume, expressions, and enthusiasm to convey energy through the lens.
- Know your stuff: We’ve talked about how scripting training videos can be efficient and help cut production time. However, if you know your stuff and are confident in the message you’re delivering, you’ll save time by skipping it. Even if you’re not a subject matter expert, get versed enough to speak with a level of authority and confidence on it. Even if you’ve scripted out your video or are using a teleprompter, you still need to know your material if you want to keep your audience engaged and give credibility to your message.
- Consider your wardrobe: How you present yourself on camera can determine the effectiveness of your video. You’ll want to make sure you’re dressing for how you want to be perceived on screen. For example, if you’re trying to portray a professional persona on camera, you’ll want to dress in a suit or a more formal outfit. The clothes you choose to wear will say a lot about you, but if you are not comfortable wearing them, it will be hard to convey the authenticity and expertise you need to communicate effectively with your audience. Consider what you will be comfortable in when planning wardrobe.
- Give yourself a break: I recently had the chance to talk with the founder of iSocialFanz, Brian Fanzo, at Video Marketing World 2018 about this topic. He says not to judge yourself on video against what you see on TV. I think this is a really important point we all need to understand. You can’t compare yourself to the evening news anchors and primetime TV actors and actresses you see because what they’re doing is not comparable to what you’re doing. Don’t sell yourself short, and don’t set yourself up for failure by setting an unrealistic expectation for yourself.
Being confident in front of the camera takes practice, just as it does to be behind the camera. Don’t be discouraged if your first on-screen appearance isn’t worthy of an Oscar nomination. It probably never will be—and that’s OK; it doesn’t need to be. Keep these tips in mind the next time you are cast to be on air talent in your own training video. Try to have fun and be authentic.
Matt Pierce is Learning & Video ambassador at TechSmith Corp., the go-to company for visual communication. TechSmith empowers people to create remarkable content to share knowledge and information. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Education’s Department of Instructional Systems Technology, Pierce has more than 10 years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training, user assistance, video, and other teams for TechSmith.