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How to Combat Stage Fright and Look Confident on Video

Butterflies in your stomach. Sweaty palms. Shaky legs. An insane urge to run away.

This is what performance anxiety looks like. You’ll make a plethora of excuses - not enough time and resources, who’d want to watch me anyway, what if everybody hates it - and procrastinate.

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Most people go through a difficult phase of performance anxiety when they’re starting out, so you’re not alone.

However, with video marketing on a meteoric rise, you definitely can not afford to shy away from creating videos.

We’ve already discussed how you can create a professional quality video if you’re terrified of creating videos. Now let’s discuss how you can master your video fears and stage fright, and present confidently on camera.

1. Create a non-scripted script

Instead of an advantage, scripts can be a stumbling block for video-phobes. But without a script, you might stammer and blank out. So here’s what you need to do.

  • Find a person (a friend, family member, employee, or even your cleaning lady!).
  • Explain your topic to them, and try to cover every part of that niche.
  • The most important thing; be conversational. Talk like you’re talking to a friend. Explain like you’re explaining your mum.
  • Record it and transcribe it.
  • Once you have the transcription, highlight all the main points you’re talking about in that script.
  • Write a short intro and CTA.

And your non-scripted script is ready.

Practice a couple of times. Try to memorise the intro so you start with a flow. Keep the document with all the main points in front of you (or, tape it to the wall behind your camera), so you can quickly glance at it and continue if you get stuck. Don’t read or concentrate on the points too far ahead; focus on one point at a time.

2. Have sound knowledge of the topic you’re shooting on

According to a study published in Science, at moments of peak pressure we find it hard to recall facts and focus on what we're doing.

A lot of times people freeze up and stammer while shooting because they’re stuck. They don’t fully understand the topic they’re speaking on. They don’t know how to explain a certain concept, give more examples than in the script, and talk like they’re an expert. Hence they come off as noobs.  

So to avoid coming off as an amateur, have sound knowledge of the topic you’re planning on speaking on.

  • Watch a lot of youtube videos related to your topic.
  • Fully understand your subject by reading multiple articles, guides, and whitepapers on them.
  • Try to read multiple examples, so you can explain your topic to the audience thoroughly.
  • Find funny or interesting anecdotes related to your topic to make the video fun.
  • Make sure you have up-to-date knowledge of everything. Don’t quote 2013 stats, guidelines, and strategies in 2018. It’s not going to work.  

3. Do as many test runs as it takes to conquer your fear (or at least some part of it)

The first video is the hardest so practice, practice, practice. By practice, I don’t mean recite the script multiple times, but rehearse in the actual setting where you’ll shoot. So the following things to combat your fear of presenting in front of a camera.

  • Practice in front of friends, family, and employees. This may seem a formidable task, but trust me, it’s the most effective way to get used to presenting.
  • Record yourself and watch it back. Critique yourself. Make a list of errors and rectify them in the next test run. Rinse, repeat.
  • Do live sessions. They seem super-scary, but they’re the best (and the quickest) way to get over your video fear. They’re super casual, even if you stammer and freeze up, it’s okay because they disappear in 24 hours. Start off small and initially do them just in front of your family members and friends and then start doing them publicly.

4. Edit your video like a pro (or hire a kick-ass editor)

Don’t be afraid to make a few blunders here and there while shooting, because you can remove them when editing. Just keep going. You can add music, interesting visuals, your brand name, social media handles, other contact details, and pretty much everything to your video. You can also shoot a cool intro and outro later on and add them to the video.

So edit your video fearlessly. Here’s a great video that shares tips and tricks to edit,

And, if you don’t want to edit your videos or want professional-quality editing, you can always hire a kick-ass editor.

5. Ask someone to stand besides the tripod

It can be a little unnerving to look at a camera and speak. You may even feel weird, talking to a camera or a wall.

So, a great way to take care of those nerves is by having someone stand behind the camera/tripod, around lens level, and talking directly to them. Ask them to nod along, smile and engage with the conversation so that you can pretend you’re speaking with them, instead of an imaginary online audience or the camera.

Just make sure that your eyes are not looking away from the cameras direction, or you may look like you’re not talking to the audience!

6. Don’t be afraid to be ‘you’ and strive for perfection on the first attempt

Let your personality shine through.

If you go through popular YouTubers’ first few videos, you’ll notice that they were all a little hesitant to show their personality. Hence, they seemed awkward, shy, rigid, and uncomfortable. However, if you look at their recent videos, you’ll see a vast improvement; they’re no longer shy, their personality (OTT, wacky, sober, or otherwise) shines through and their audience loves them because of this.

Here’s a cute example. I absolutely love Kathleen Lights (beauty vlogger) and a while back she uploaded a video, ‘Reacting to my first video.’ In this video, she shares clips from her first ever video and we all had a good laugh fest in the comments section. Notice how she’s shy and awkward in those clips.

Did Kathleen Light’s disastrous first video stop her from amassing 3.5 million subscribers and creating hundreds of videos? Of course not.

Everyone, and I repeat, everyone makes terrible first few videos. That’s alright. That’s how you learn.

So, don’t be afraid. If you’re OTT, don’t try to stifle yourself and appear more serious and businesslike. Another YouTuber I absolutely love because of her loud personality is Bushra of Persuasion Revolution.

And, if your nature’s a little reserved and serious, don’t crack jokes and act funny.

So, go through old videos of people in your niche to see the glaring errors they made. Sort videos on their YouTube profile ‘Old to New’ and watch their oldest videos. This’ll help you understand that nobody shoots the perfect video from the start. Everyone starts bad and then improves on it. Same goes for you. Don’t strive for perfection. Strive to give people value through your content. Perfection will come eventually.

7. Get an accountability partner

Wikipedia says, ‘An accountability partner is a person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment.’

Your commitment is creating your first video. It’s easy for video-phobes to give one excuse after another and not start. Constant procrastination. So, if that’s you and you’re guilty of hiding behind a plethora of lame excuses, then you need an accountability partner NOW. It can be anyone who doesn’t kowtow to you and would actually be strict with you; your mum, your spouse, your boss, or you could even hire an accountability coach.

Stress on them the importance of you getting your first video up and tell them not to listen to any of your excuses. Decide when you’re going to create the video and mark it on your calendar.

Your accountability partner will ensure that you’ve created a script and are ready to shoot on this date.

8. Drink water

Steve Cohen says in Win the Crowd:

Pure water hydrates every cell in your body and helps make your skin radiate a healthy glow. More important, water relaxes your throat, making your voice more resonant. The moist environments eliminates any resistance that is presented by a dry throat and enables you to produce a richer, more pleasant-sounding tone. On top of that, it’ll feel good. You’ll feel the resonation and reverberation of vocal tones more distinctly in your chest and nasal area. This helps you produce a better-quality sound.

Finally, drink a glass of water right before you’re about to start. Along with all the other benefits mentioned above, it will also prevent hoarseness and phlegmy throat clearing sounds which are annoying for the audience.

10. Look and feel great on camera

Your wardrobe choice can also make a huge difference on the aesthetics of your video. If you look amazing, you’ll feel confident and that will show on camera. Talking to Wistia, Nicole Otchy, founder of NCO Style, reveals a few style tips to help you look snazzy on camera.

Wear jewel tones near your face

‘Jewel tones have the right amount of saturation for all skin types and will prevent washing you out under harsh lighting. Pastels can make skin look gray and very bright colors (think neons) can make skin appear sallow.’ - Nicole

Ditch black

"Wearing black on camera can make dark circles appear more pronounced, giving you a more tired look." - Nicole

You can always go for a darker hue of your favourite colour if you really want to wear something dark. Navy, forest green, dark terra cotta are all great options.

KISS

Keep it simple. Don’t go for statement pieces or shiny fabrics. Choose simple fabrics and modern designs.

"Rich, saturated colors never go out of style, so it's best to keep it simple." - Nicole

Go easy on patterns

“Wear a plaid tie against a solid shirt and solid jacket, or a printed shell under a solid sweater or blazer, so the print acts as an accent and not the main event.” - Nicole

Choose a complimenting backdrop

“You always want to wear a color that contrasts with the background you're against so that you stand out.” - Nicole

While a white background may make every colour appear brighter than it is, darker backdrops may dullen the colours a little. So check what looks best before you start filming.

As Dale Carnegie says,

"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."

The best way to conquer performance anxiety and stage fear is to just do it. No matter how much you convince yourself that you’ll shoot a video when you feel you can, you never will. Unless you just stand up and decide to do it. So before it can cripple you any further, just go on a live video right now. Talk about anything. And once you’ve done this, sit down, create a non-scripted script, and start shooting.

It really is that easy.

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