We’ve all had that moment where we watch ourselves on video and realize what horrible, hideous creatures we are. “Do my fingers look like long spider legs?” we ask ourselves. “Why do they twitch and unfurl like they’re crawling along a surface?” we wonder. “Does the literal web they’re spinning also act as a metaphor for the web of lies I’ve told myself about not being some sort of spider-person?” we scream-ask into the eternal, internal void. Again, these are all things we’ve universally thought about ourselves.
Luckily, being better on video doesn’t mean hiring some sort of extreme makeover artist with a background in pest extermination. It takes understanding, courage, and a willingness to practice. By following these five simple tips, you can improve your on-video presence –– regardless of what arachnid your hands resemble.
1. Realize Your Potential on Video
Sometimes all it takes to get a little bit better is understanding the benefits of all your hard work. Video is no different. Companies that use video can better market themselves and improve their customer experience. Those that don’t may end up wondering why they haven’t seen a bump in their marketing ROI, sales KPIs, customer experience NPS, and perhaps even RBIs.
Video, though, is more than just a way to sell your company. It’s a way to sell yourself. As work becomes remote and emails become a thing of the past, video serves as a way, sometimes the only way, to connect with your coworkers and customers. Being good on video provides you a marketable skill as you navigate your career.
2. Find Your Courage with Practice
To get better at most things means to fail repeatedly. No one’s first draft is ever perfect, but most of the time that failure is at least semi-private.
Video changes all that. The camera records every verbal stumble or tic or weird gesture for anyone at your company to see. Should someone ever hack your company, you know in your heart the first thing they’ll release is the video of you accidentally saying “quail sodas” when the script says “sales quotas.”
It takes courage to understand that you may look goofy or mess up your lines. The funny thing about courage is that with enough practice it turns into confidence.
So, be courageous. Step in front of that webcam and be willing to make mistakes. Instead of sending an overlong email, get some practice by sending a Loom video instead. As you record videos, share them with coworkers or friends to get feedback. Soon, being on video won’t feel so bad, and you may even find that you enjoy it. It only takes a little courage to push yourself a great distance.
3. Start Your Path with One-Way Video
Most professionals will need two types of video experience: one-way and two-way. Two-way video occurs when there’s interactive communication. It’s a Zoom meeting. One person speaks, then someone asks a question and another person answers it.
One-way video is more like a YouTube tutorial. One person speaks directly to the audience through the camera.
While it may seem like these two video forms use the same skill, there’s actually a progression. Starting with one-way will help you build the core muscles of video communication. You’ll learn to imagine the audience and speak engagingly. That carries over into two-way video, and you’ll soon find yourself using those skills in your video conferences, too.
4. Reframe Your Focus and Attention
Another way to stymie the self-doubt that can flourish whenever you see the light of a webcam flick on is to remember one key mantra: It’s not about you. Even though you’re centrally framed in the camera lens and you’re the only one speaking, it’s not about you.
Videos are about the audience. They are about giving the audience what they need to make the right decision or feel a certain way. What you communicate through the video is a gift. It’s a gift of your talents, your knowledge, and your energy.
This might sound hippy-dippy but it’s also the truth. Changing your perspective about who the video is for can help silence those deafening voices in your head. This will make it easier to form a deep connection with your audience.
5. Imagine Your Audience and Not Your Camera
Your relationship with your camera will define your video. If you’re intimidated by your camera, your audience will notice and will lose focus on what you’re trying to communicate. If you imagine your camera as your audience you can begin crafting a video that better captures their attention.
It also helps to picture what your audience may be doing while they’re watching your video. If this is a one-way video, your audience’s attention is probably divided. While your video plays, they may be reading emails, scrolling through social media, or being distracted by that car outside their window that’s now on minute eleven of trying to parallel park.
That means you have to bring energy to your video –– whatever that means for you: do a few jumping jacks; slam a cup of green tea; splash cold water on your face; scream at the parallel parking guy. Because being a 10 out of 10 may not be good enough. The camera tends to slow things down, so you’ll have to be even more engaging to make up for it. Put another way: If your message is important, you should make it look and sound important.
Being Better on Video Means Being Better Off Video, Too
With enough practice and courage, you’ll soon find that the lessons you’ve learned from being engaging on video will begin to filter through to all the ways you communicate. You’ll gain confidence and develop deeper connections with coworkers, clients, and even your family.
For more on how to get better on video, make sure to listen to Episode 25 of The Video Reformation Podcast.