For some of us, being in front of the camera is a challenge. Many authors find it difficult to translate their writing skills into being savvy on air. However, the good news is that with just a few tips, you can be comfortable on camera, too, just like pros you’ll find on TV and other video platforms today.
Contrary to what you might think, the pandemic has actually opened up more opportunities for on-air action. With many journalists not being able to get out into the field, stations are in need of content to fill up their on-air slots.
Plus, more and more stations are turning to zoom to conduct interviews, making it easier than ever before for you to appear on TV without ever having to leave your own home. With all these extra opportunities, it’s important that you’re prepared to take advantage of the times and share your message with new audiences.
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In our “cliff notes,” here are some suggestions from Kim and Mike Barnes for how to shine while you’re on camera.
1) Imagine you’re Talking to a Friend
Many people find it weird to talk into a camera with no one behind it. Remember, the camera doesn’t bite. It sounds simple, but just talk into the camera as if your friend was sitting right behind it. You would be glad to see them, right?
This is especially helpful for introverts. If you are an introvert, imagine that the person sitting behind the camera is an introvert, too. This can help calm your nerves.
You might think that everyone on TV is an extrovert because of how excited they seem to be talking. It’s easy for us to think that because of how exciting and vibrant they are on TV that they are like that all the time, it’s simply not true.
Yes, you should be energetic and vibrant on TV, but it doesn’t mean that you need to be like that all the time. Introverts can be just as comfortable in front of the camera as extroverts, it just takes a little more practice.
2) Be the Expert
Chances are, if people are watching you on TV, then they want to hear from you on your topic of expertise. Share your expertise and be confident that you know what you’re talking about.
You’re the expert and people want to hear from you. It’s the combination of having the confidence to share your expertise and knowing that people want to hear from you that makes you a professional in front of the camera.
Whether it’s one person asking or an entire television audience or platform, you have to sell yourself. Be loud and clear. You are the expert, and you know exactly what you are talking about.
3) Make it a Conversation
You’ll want to practice sharing your content out loud before you go in front of the camera. One great tip is to just practice talking to yourself. Whether you’re out on a run or a bike ride, or on your way to work, practicing talking to yourself can make you feel more confident and comfortable with speaking on your subject.
Really work on making your content conversational. During an interview, people don’t have the benefit of being able to look back a paragraph and reread what you just said, speak slowly and simply. Talk just like you’re talking to a friend. You want people to be able to hear you and understand you the first time you say something.
4) Avoid Jargon
One thing that sounds easy but is actually hard in practice is avoiding jargon. After all, you are the expert on your subject. You probably know a whole lot more about what you’re talking about than anyone else in your audience.
But, you have to remember that most people won’t be familiar with your subject, especially if it’s technical. A lot of times, we assume that people know what we’re talking about. A good rule of thumb is to assume that your audience doesn’t know anything about your subject.
Explain things like you would explain something to a middle schooler for the first time. People are listening, and they want to hear what you have to say. But, you have to keep their attention and walk them through your message in a very clear manner.
5) Use Body Language
It’s easy to forget to use body language when you’re on camera. However, just like you would have a conversation with a friend, you want to use active hand gestures and body language.
Lots of people confine themselves to a box when they’re on camera. Remember, it’s OK to move and use hand gestures, even if they extend outside the frame of the camera. The worst thing that you can do is stand still like a deer in headlights.
One exception is if you’re showing off your book. Of course, you will want to make sure your book is within the camera frame when you’re displaying it to your audience. However, it’s perfectly acceptable to use hand gestures and body language just as if you are talking to a friend, and that might mean moving outside of your “box” a little.
Remember, most importantly, you have to be yourself in front of the camera. Say that you’re excited to be there, and show it through your body language and actions. You’re the expert and you have to own your message.
If you would like to learn more about media training and being an expert on air, then check out Barnes Team Media’s On Camera Challenge. It’s a 10-day crash course into being a professional on camera, and you’ll get one-on-one feedback from Kim and Mike Barnes and others like yourself. If you’re planning on being on camera, then you can’t miss out on this opportunity.