For most of us, staring down the barrel of a TV camera lens is akin to looking down the barrel of a gun. Even the likes of Adele, Rihanna and Jennifer Lawrence famously suffer from stage fright, so what hope is there for the nervous novice?
Plenty actually. Here are four ways to overcome the horror and make a positive connection with your audience: Embrace emotion, Express yourself, Endlessly practice, Expect everything.
Film amplifies our non-verbal signals. A telltale laugh, frown, nervous twitch or wondering glance gives away our feelings. These cues are crucial to the viewers’ response. So be aware of that, but accept that they’re what make us human and interesting. Remember we are drawn to people who come across as ‘real’ and approachable.
Whether you are reading from an autocue or speaking from memory, try not to sound like a robot. Talk naturally, in familiar language and don’t be afraid to tweak the content to reflect your speech pattern. Sometimes sound bites that work fine for one person sound wrong on the lips of another. In short, BE YOU!
We find that people new to film give their best performances when using talking points or interview questions as prompts, not scripts. That doesn’t mean you can ‘wing it’ though. Rehearsals are vital. Run through the messages as many times as you can stomach, and test it on your long-suffering family and by the end of it the words will flow naturally and the number of takes will tumble.
Film shoots are funny places; we’ve had people walk into cordoned-off rooms to put the kettle on; we’ve had facilities staff insist on stocking cupboards with bottles mid-shoot and we’ve had VIPs commandeer our room to make a personal call. So expect interruptions, go with the flow and try to have fun.
Finally, perfection is practically impossible so don’t panic – your team will be forgiving because deep down they’re glad it’s you on screen and not them.
So if you’re invited to represent your business area, team or project on screen don’t take fright. It’s a learning experience to enjoy; it will raise your profile and you will never look back.
Thoughts from David: If you are interested in improving your performance why not drop him a line for more insight.