How to look and sound great on camera

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Speaking on camera is harder than it seems.  Done poorly, it can come across as awkward, forced and unnatural.  Being filmed is weird, uncomfortable, and sometimes embarrassing!  It may seem like it’s not for you.  But with a bit of practice, and by putting into practice some of these pointers, it can actually be easier than you think.  Done right, speaking on camera can produce videos that are engaging, have a sense of momentum and enthusiasm, and can grip its hearers.  Here are our top pointers for how to look and sound great on camera:

Smile

We put this first because we think it’s possibly the most important tip of all.  If you smile, it not only makes you look like you’re excited about what you’re saying, but it actually makes you sound better too.  Talking while smiling makes your voice sound brighter, happier and like you really believe in what you’re saying.  It makes you look more confident, warmer, and more inviting.  It makes your eyes light up, gives you better posture, and gives more momentum to your speaking voice.  It may feel forced at the time, but trust us – it will look, sound and feel 100 times better than a “neutral”, “serious” or worse, “frowny” face!

Know your script

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean memorise your script.  If you can memorise it, awesome!  Go for it!  But not all of us have the time or the brain space to memorise our part on camera, but it’s still important to know it.  Ideally you’ll have some sort of teleprompter setup (we love this one, but any are great), but at the very least, get a teleprompter app on an ipad or tablet and hold it next to the lens.  But by familiarising yourself with the script beforehand, you’ll know exactly when to use particular emphasis on words, when sentences flow, and when to pause.  In fact, you can even remind yourself of these cues in your script.  Use CAPITALS to remind you of words that need emphasis, use commas or colons to tell you when to pause.  A little prep work with the script beforehand means it will come across to the audience with so much more meaning and depth, and will capture their attention better and for longer.

Use your hands

Standing perfectly still while speaking will probably come across as being awkward, rigid and uncomfortable.  Use your hands and face to tell the story and use gestures to support your voice.  But don’t go nuts!  Try to find a happy medium between being too “handsy” and too rigid.  

Speak like you’re talking to a friend

Try to use a natural voice, as if you’re talking to people you’re familiar with.  Avoid the “news anchor” feel, and instead use a casual, friendly voice that’s warm and inviting.  Depending on the kind of equipment available to you, you may not need to project your voice all that much either.  In fact, speaking too loudly can just create unwanted echo if you’re shooting indoors.  Unless you absolutely have to, keep the volume to “normal” and don’t feel like you have to shout.  Speak as if you’re trying to persuade someone or “win them over” to what you’re saying, not merely conveying information.

What to wear

Don’t overthink your outfit.  It’s best to just wear something you feel comfortable in, as long as it’s appropriate to the context.  You may dress differently in a video aimed at youth or kids, compared to a video to be shown to the entire church.  That being said, there are a few things to avoid if you can:  thin stripes do some crazy things on camera, so avoid these at all costs.  Solid, bold colours tend to look better than pastels, and block colours fare better than complex patterns on camera.  That being said, at the end of the day, if you feel confident in what you’re wearing, then you’re going to speak and present better than someone uncomfortable in their outfit, so go with your gut!  For women, a little makeup can be helpful, but less is more.  Likewise for hair, a little care and thought will minimise any distractions caused by crazy hair, but don’t overthink it – your message and the way you present it is what really matters.

Like anything, speaking on camera is a skill that takes time, but you’ll be surprised at how much can be improved just by taking on these simple tips.  Give it a go!  We’d love to see the videos you create!

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