Does the thought of being onscreen make you want to scream?
It’s a perfectly natural reaction to an extraordinary experience, and you’re by no means alone in feeling your heart race and stomach turn when you stand up to talk in front of a crowd.
Public speaking is one of the country’s biggest fears, so you’re in good company if you feel worried about stepping in front of the camera to have your presentation skills captured on film forever.
Some of the world’s biggest stars of stage and screen – including Jennifer Lawrence and Adele - suffer from stagefright, but watching them perform it can be impossible to tell. Thankfully, being such a common fear, we’re learning more and more techniques for how to overcome it and put ourselves at ease.
"Just remember, for a 3 minute video we typically capture anything from 1 – 4 hours worth of footage. Which means so long as you get it right just once, we’ll have what we need!"
And so if your workplace has nominated you to star in their latest promotional film, or you’re a shy business owner determined to present your awesome ideas to the world then read on for our top tips for getting confident in front of the camera.
You’re The Bravest Person In The Room Right Now!
There’s one of two reasons you’re stood with a microphone on your collar and the spotlight on your face; either you’re the only person in the office who actually had the courage to say “Yes”, or you were picked because your boss believed you were the best person to represent her company.
And if the thought of being judged by a professional film crew makes you feel nervous (they must be used to working with pros, right?), just remember that they have chosen a career safely behind the camera for a reason! They feel your nerves, they respect your bravery, and they will do everything they can to help you succeed, because…
The Film Crew Only Succeed If You Succeed
Their whole job right now is to make you look and sound the very best you can. Any production staff worth their salt will pull out all the stops to put you at ease, starting from the moment you meet. You’ll not be the first person they have worked with who suddenly forgets how to speak in sentences, and so the earlier you express any specific worries you have the quicker they can work to reassure you.
If your shirt buttons feel like they’re restricting your breathing, or your jacket feels unbearably hot under the lights, let the crew now as soon as you can. If you stay quiet until half way through, it’ll be harder to hide the change in your appearance for continuity.
We Want You Show You At Your Best
It’s not the end of the world if you stutter or stumble over your words, as we can always go for another take. If you stub your toe and swear, it’s easy enough to cut that out in the edit! In fact, during post-production our focus is on choosing the shots where you look and sound your very best (it wouldn’t make for a great film if we chose the worst scene!).
Just remember, for a 3 minute video we typically capture anything from 1 – 4 hours worth of footage. Which means so long as you get it right just once, we’ll have what we need!!
Get To Know Your Own Body Language
Try standing in front of a mirror and delivering your speech. Or even better stand up in front of your partner or best friend, and before you even start talking feel the involuntary movements the self-conscious part of your brain makes you do. Do you rub your face, scratch your neck, move your hair or start to fold your arms? The more visible, and vulnerable, you feel, the more you try to adjust your appearance or shield yourself in defence. You’re silently communicating your inner fears.
Ask your audience to look out for these nervous actions and count how many they spot. The game now is the resist these movements when they appear. It can feel funny at times seeing your hand start to slowly rise towards your face! All of a sudden there’s a battle between your conscious and sub-conscious mind, and the more you can master these involuntary movements, the more comfortable and confident you feel in standing tall and commanding the stage.
Prima Ballerina Posture
Unless you spent your childhood learning the difference between a demiplie and an arabesque pose, your posture could probably do with a little work. Before you step in front of the camera spend a little time reminding your body how it is suppose to feel stood up straight.
Go to the side of the room and stand with your heels and inch away from the wall but with your buttocks touching. Take a nice, long, deep breath and roll your shoulders back until they too touch wall, and lift your head up and back to join it.
Although your spine is now straight, you’re probably stretched out of your normal posture. With another deep breath bring your shoulders to your ears and then pull them down to elongate your neck. Practice putting yourself into this position so that on screen you can look less crouched and more confident!
Above All It’s The Message That Matters
One of the most powerful tools you have is your story. For thousands of years we’ve told ourselves tales to try and make sense of the world around us, and deep inside all of us is the desire to find out what happens next. Before every ad break there's a cliffhanger, and TV writers love to reveal something shocking just before the credits roll because they know we will need to find out how this all unfolds.
While the anticipation and nerves of being on screen can be exhausting, try to focus your energy beforehand on crafting a narrative that keeps your audience engaged. It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as a soap opera of course! Think of your favourite anecdotes or jokes, and bear in mind how the best storytellers hold onto your attention – set the scene, keep your message clear, and keep the momentum up to the punchline.