Why is it that perfectly normal human beings, who speak to people every day of the week, completely freeze when they have a camera pointed at them?
Have you been there?
And it doesn’t just apply to ‘regular’ people. I have seen it happen to accomplished professional speakers, who – if you put them on a stage in front of hundreds or even thousands – give an amazing talk. But put them in front of a camera and there are a million outtakes.
Many of these speakers, and plenty of ‘non-speakers’ won’t do a Facebook Live to save their life’s! But they can speak all day long in a 1-2-1, or in front of a live audience.
So, what is going on?
Well, like anything – speaking on camera is a skill and it needs its own skillset. It’s a bit like being a theatre actor or a TV actor or a Big screen actor. There are things that are the same (you are talking to people / you are playing a part). And there are things that are very different.
Now I am not an actor, but I am a professional speaker, and internationally awarded speaker coach, so here is what I know.
When you are on stage you have an audience. And you can feel the atmosphere in the room. You can connect with people through your eye contact and you get immediate feedback about whether what you are saying is having the desired effect.
Also – people can interact. They can raise their hands, ask questions, say yes, nod their heads. They can leave the room. Lol. Hopefully not!
And here’s another thing – often overlooked but quite important.
On stage – you sound like you. You know what I mean. The sound that you hear – your voice – sounds like what you expect it to sound like. When you hear yourself back on a video it doesn’t sound like how you hear your voice when you speak. Do you know what I mean?
The MAIN reason though that people freeze up when trying to record themselves speaking on video is this.
Why Do People Freeze on Video?
For some reason, it’s almost worse to mess up on camera than getting it wrong on stage. On stage you can recover, you can go over something again if you didn’t say it right – but you can’t press pause or replay.
On a video – you know you can pause it if you get it wrong. And so you DO pause it if you get it wrong. Which is also why people who will attempt video, won’t attempt lives. There is no pausing or re-recording a live. And once it is out there, it is out there forever!
And all that is very understandable – but it’s completely wrong.
Your audience is much more sophisticated than you think.
And that doesn’t mean they are expecting mega CGI, high res, high-quality videos which are perfectly scripted, perfectly recorded and perfectly delivered. In fact – the opposite is true.
Your audience can spot inauthenticity A MILE OFF.
What does that mean? It means – if you are too perfect, if you never fluff your lines if you utter not one ‘erm’ or ‘er’ on VIDEO, then (unless that is you normally) they will feel the fakeness and you will not engage them.
Look at all the stuff that goes viral on social media.
Is it the stuff that is edited to perfection?
Nope – it’s generally the stuff that just happens and is captured by someone.
In the same way – perfectly crafted sales and branding messages from companies, don’t do the job as well as someone speaking authentically to camera and fluffing the odd word.
People don’t really care what you look or sound like on a video. What they DO care about is your message and whether it is helpful to them. Does it make them laugh? Does it make them feel better about themselves? Does it inform or educate them about something? Is it adding value to their life?
If the message is valuable for them as an individual, if it speaks to them directly, then a real person, with an accent and maybe a bit of hair out of place, and even the odd swear word (remind you of anyone?) – is better than any amount of studio created irrelevant content.
The thing you have to tell yourself is this – and it is the same message when you are worried about getting on stage and speaking. Do my audience need to know this? Will it help them? And if the answer if “yes”, then you need to build a bridge and get over yourself.
Here’s the biggest tip I can give you.
Just speak like you were speaking to a friend. Don’t ‘project’. Don’t think about how you sound. Think about what you want to say and just say it. Say it out loud a few times if you like – before you switch the camera on.
But for heaven’s sake – just be yourself.