How to Get Comfortable on Camera, Part 1

From awkward to awesome

Thanks to the world imploding in 2020, we’re all on video far more than we ever anticipated. In this 4 part series, we’ll give hands-on strategies and tips for making you camera-ready.

Nailed it! Or so I thought.

I had remembered my lines (most of them) and looked at the camera (most of the time). So when Madeline, my friend behind the camera, told me to relax, it caught me off guard.

Then I saw the footage. I was stiff. Like I was wearing a back brace. My delivery was great…if I was impersonating a 1950s robot.

That was at the beginning of my journey into creating videos. Now I’m in front of the camera every other day and it’s as easy as brushing my teeth. 

So how did I get comfortable on camera?

Some think that camera presence is something like charisma or athleticism: that it is inborn and you either have it or you don’t. But the ability to feel comfortable and deliver confidently in front of the camera lens is completely learnable. Here’s how.

The Hello Video

A “hello video” is a 30-60 second video intended for someone you know: a friend, a family member, a colleague, or an acquaintance. There is no need to belabor the content in a hello video–it’s not a treatise on philosophy. You are simply checking in, saying hello, and letting the recipient know you are thinking about them. 

The recipient will love it. It will make their day!

They don’t need to know the real reason you made it—you did it to get in practice time in front of the camera. This is the video creator’s version of laps around the track and reps in the gym.

The hello video is a minimum viable video. It’s the smallest piece of video content that moves all other concerns to the side so you can focus on the one thing that matters: getting comfortable on camera. In these videos, lighting is unimportant. Microphone choice doesn’t matter. All that matters is developing your camera presence, delivery skills, and confidence.

Put it into practice

Your next goals should be to send out 10 hello videos. The audience is not important. Your mom out of state, your sister overseas, your friend down the street, your grandfather who you don’t call enough.

Don’t worry about your words. You probably won’t sound like Shakespeare, but that’s fine. The thought is what counts. 

You’ll make those ten people feel like the universe is smiling on them. But what’s most interesting is that you’ll see a progression between the videos: incremental and steady gains in looking at the camera, body language, and voice control. 

So after you nail ten hello videos, what’s next? 

In the next part of this series, we’ll talk about developing on-camera warmth and magnetism.

Thanks to Zachary, Zain, Julia for reading earlier drafts