Isn’t it a little ironic…we live in an age where we can broadcast to millions, as easy as pie, and yet it seems to be the scariest thing of all in our marketing and communication portfolio. More visibility tools at our fingertips than ever before, and yet it feels harder than ever to be seen and heard.
We have clients who tell us they are so worried they feel physically sick about making a video or going live on a social media platform.
Others tell us they can do it without feeling the terrors, but lack confidence and feel they turn in a wooden performance. Trust me, I get this; I’m just grateful that my first appearance on camera (on the BBC evening news of all things) was broadcast before YouTube was a thing. It was awful.
Worst of all, clients tell us they don’t even see the point of doing anything on video – after all, how do you stand out in such a crowded market?
But here’s the truth. To grow your business, you need to be visible. Whether you are online or bricks-and-mortar, whether you provide a service or make products, you need people to know, like and trust you. Putting yourself out there on video is such a powerful way to help strangers become followers, for followers to become fans, and for inspiring fans to become the long-term customers that build your business success.
Video is a huge area – from technology to algorithms, from kit to ad strategies. But before you even get to those, are you doing all you can to make sure your performance is as good as it can be?
Here are 5 Ps to help you transform your performance in front of a camera:
I know we live in an online world where sassy influencers tell us they are “just hopping on” to share a random thought…but honestly, if these are to work well, even the most impromptu videos come from a place of proper preparation.
Apart from anything else, those ‘random thoughts’ need to fit within your brand story and message – or how will people know what you stand for? How will you show up as congruent and consistent, which is crucial to building your credibility? Preparation helps you find the right opportunities to build your video presence, and to sound on-message when you use them.
You know, I’m always a little uncomfortable about the impromptu and the unscripted, simply because many of our lovely clients have told us over the years that they feel overwhelmed and put-off by how easy other people make that look. Let’s make this a bit easier – the impromptu vlogger has done a whole load of preparation somewhere. You may not see it, but you can see the effect of it.
You know we’re not into fake quick wins here. There are ways to get smarter, but there are never any get-rich-quick short-cuts to get out of doing the work (tempting though they sound).
Even if you’re doing a quick and unscripted ‘live’, your performance will benefit hugely from ongoing practice. Practice develops your skills, grows your confidence, and means that your most unprepared broadcasts are actually rooted in something really solid and grounded.
You’ll get more comfortable with the structures that work for you, the specific words that resonate, even your natural rhythm, of breathing.
Most of all, practice will help you build your confidence as well as your technical skill. And the more confident you feel, the more assured, credible and authoritative you will look and sound.
In some ways, it’s easier to get your posture right when you’re speaking on a conference stage; there are logical parameters for where to stand and where to look, and a fixed space to use. And it might feel more natural to talk to an audience you can see.
When you’re making a video or broadcasting a live, there’s every chance you’re looking at a solid wall with some form of recording device in front of it. It can be harder to act naturally in that setting, so try some visualisations to see what works for you – an image of an audience stuck beside the lens, a mental picture of the people watching you, or even the idea of your audience in miniature inside your camera or phone.
Practically, though, there are also things you can do to enhance the way you appear on film. First of all, think about how you position yourself physically. This may be driven by what you’re doing – for example, if you’re doing a cookery demonstration to camera, it’s logical that you’re standing behind your work counter.
But what if you’re just talking to camera? Should you sit down or stand up, for example? The key is simply to try different things on film and play it back – and see what looks right for you. Are you bouncing around from foot to foot and looking agitated when standing? Or does sitting make you slouch (in turn affecting your breathing and making you look less interested or animated)?
If nerves really are getting the better of you, you could try a different format altogether – and talk to someone off-camera. This is how most TV interviews are done, and talking directly to the camera is known as ‘breaking the fourth wall’ of the studio.
Using an off-camera posture can take some pressure off you, but be aware that talking directly to your audience builds much more engagement and a relationship. Mixing up formats can add interest, though, and help you progress to a direct format as you grow in confidence.
Of course, there are lots of other posture and body-language issues to consider (one of my favourite client questions ever was: “yes, but what the hell do I do with my ARMS?”), but keep it simple for now – just find the physical position that suits you best.
Have you ever noticed how much vocal range a professional newsreader uses? How they use their tone to convey a hard news story or a light-hearted piece, tragedy or good news?
There is research that suggests newsreaders use their professional vocal training to use voice tones in a range of perhaps six or seven octaves. That’s an even wider range than children use quite naturally – they typically use around four octaves, and they’re normally pretty effective at expressing how they’re feeling, aren’t they?
Here’s the thing, though: most adults use just two or three octaves. We moderate so much that even our extremes of vocal emotion are not very wide. Now take into account the physical effect of feeling nervous…and suddenly you’re broadcasting something pretty monotone.
Does this matter? It’s not a theatrical performance, right?
Of course it matters. You want to hold your viewers’ attention. You want to sound credible and authoritative, confident and trustworthy. You want to look and sound like someone a potential customer would trust enough to work with or buy from.
Putting in the hard yards to develop your vocal skills will pay you huge dividends. For now though, just don’t go too mad and come out the other end as a falsetto. Use your breath, work with your exhalation, and match your pitch to your words…you have so much untapped potential in this section of your communication toolkit.
In the same way that the pitch of your voice conveys a great deal about you, so too does pace.
First and foremost – can people actually make out what you’re saying? If you’re charging through your words at a gallop, your audience has little time to hear you – let alone to actually process what you’re saying. However slowly you think you’re speaking, you’re probably going too fast – especially if you’re nervous.
That said, sl-ow-ing it ri-ght do-wn can sound patronising. Possibly even a tiny bit mad.
Again, develop your speaking skills and practice like hell – but more than anything, remember you own this. This is your subject, your broadcast. You control the pace.
So there you have five practical ways to start sky-rocketing your visibility on camera straight away. We’d love to know how you get on with them – please let us know.
Meanwhile, we’re about to send out our FREE monthly content planner for May – so if you’d like your very own content strategist sitting metaphorically alongside you for the next 31 days, helping you identify and write great blogs and social media posts every single day, click here now to get your copy.
And we’ll be back next week with another FREE teach-in. Sign up or follow this blog if you’d like these sent directly to your inbox each week, so you never miss a thing…
Have a great week,
Lucy & Emma