07 Aug 5 Mistakes People Make When Speaking In Front Of The Camera
Cover image taken by Winston J. Smith in Miami Beach.
We’re all on camera these days, from Zoom meetings, social media presence, virtual presentations for work, and beyond. Ensure confidence and success by avoiding these five mistakes when speaking on camera.
Perhaps it’s most important to start with, why is it important to know how to speak well and with greater confidence in front of a camera?
Well, it gives you credibility, first of all. Second, when you are looking directly connecting with the listener, the viewer, your boss, your team, whomever, you come across with greater empathy. Greater empathy allows you to connect. Being able to connect with the audience will bring you greater successes, because we humans connect with emotional ties when it comes to decision making.
MISTAKE 1: NOT KNOWING THEIR AUDIENCE
Before you even begin to create a video piece or start a Zoom presentation, it’s so important for you to know who your audience is.
Imagine if you spoke Mandarin and I’m sitting here talking English. The message would never come across to you.
You need to speak the language, or the interest of, the audience that’s listening. You have to know who your audience is, and learn to speak their language to make sure that you’re connecting with whoever it is that you’re speaking to. Otherwise, it’s all speaking Greek, as the saying goes.
MISTAKE 2: READING OFF OF NOTECARDS
Admittedly, there’s nothing wrong with using notecards to outline your speech. However, reading directly off of them the entire time? No bueno. This isn’t story time, and eye contact is key. Coming across as the go-to leader of authority on the subject you’re speaking on will be the difference between a “yes” or a “no” from your listeners.
A suggestion, prepare your words prior, and if need be, create a three point bullet list of hot topics you want to ensure you land. The shorter the better when it comes to bullet points, using key words instead of phrases.
MISTAKE 3: ALLOWING ANXIETY TO TAKE OVER THE SHOW
This might be the hardest of all of these mistakes to correct for most. While we can do our best to prepare on the external surface, preparing the inner workings of our fears, emotions and traumas are a bit more intricate than tidying up a room or writing out some bullet points.
Two quick tips that can help in the moment:
- Q.T.I.P. Quit taking it personal, and remember it’s about helping to inform or serve the audience, not about you.
- Breathe. Recall in your mind that you’re excited for speaking on camera. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between the emotion of excitement and anxiety on a high-level. The mere mention to yourself that it’s excitement you’re feeling instead of fear can help to overcome that initial OMG moment of panic.
MISTAKE 4: HAVING A POOR SETUP AND BACKGROUND
How you keep your home, office and personal space is absolutely your business. However, the minute you’re on camera presenting you, you’ve invited the audience into your space as well. Would you have a guest over with trash on the floor or clothes strung over chairs? Maybe. But, I would argue viewers would find you more presentable when your space is tidy, clean and like you took the time to care.
Have a clean background, minimal noise, tidy and kept space, and free of loud distractions.
MISTAKE 5: DETAIL PARALYSIS
Sheryl Sandberg is quoted for saying, “Done is better than perfect,” meaning it’s better to complete a task than leave it undone for fear of it not being ready or near perfect. Deep breath, my fellow type A’s — I’m a perfectionist too. Sometimes, that side of me needs to take a backseat for execution and getting something done.
Instead of getting caught up on having all the top of the line gear, the near silent recording booth, professional lighting and perfectly outlined cue cards, go back to basics. Work on what is your message? Who are you serving? What is the goal? How can you help? If you achieve the latter four, the setup — while important — will be far less crucial than having something meaningful to share.
Want to learn more about speaking on camera? Check out the Complete Guide to Speaking On Camera and Filming Yourself, complete with a preparation structure to land your pitch, know your audience, an ease your anxiety kit, what to wear, body posture, and more.