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6 Tips for Being on Camera

We’re all spending more time than usual on camera these days. Physical distancing is still important for your health and safety, which means that communicating by video has replaced face-to-face interactions in many settings. Whether you’re running a video call with coworkers or recording yourself for a commercial, you want to look your best. 

As we’ve said before, you shouldn’t have to choose between being authentic and looking professional. A well-produced video can show off the truth of who you are and what your brand stands for. On the other hand, a poorly produced video can distract from your message. Poor audio quality, unfortunate lighting, or distracting backgrounds can take center stage. That’s the last thing you want. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your video. 

Before you record your next interview or video segment, consider these tips for being on camera.

1. Check your background

People are tuning in to see you, don’t distract them with a busy or messy background. Remove anything from the space that is unrelated to your video. That doesn’t mean you have to shoot in front of a blank wall. You can add set-pieces as long as they’re chosen with intention. Remember, when it comes to video backgrounds, less is often more. 

If you’re creating a marketing video, include brand colors and symbols. You might throw some orange pillows on the couch or put your water in a mug with your logo on it. Too many logos can make your video feel overly salesy, but a few items in your brand colors can help reinforce your message. 

2. Choose your wardrobe to send a message

Wear clothes that match the tone of your video. If your brand is formal and businesslike, your wardrobe should be too. If you’re more casual and fun, you can dress down a little. Avoid busy patterns, but pick something that helps you stand out from the background. For example, you probably don’t want to wear a white button-down shirt if you’re going to be standing in front of a white wall. 

If you normally wear glasses, consider contacts for the shoot. Glasses obscure your eyes and can create distracting glare. This prevents the audience from seeing you clearly and can make you seem distant or aloof. 

3. Adjust your lighting

If you have a full production team with you, they’ll handle the lightning, but if you’re taping on your own, you’ll need to make adjustments yourself. Try to put your biggest source of light behind the camera, so it’s shining toward your face. A window with natural light often gives the best effect, but you can achieve similar results with a well-positioned lamp. Start with a light check. You can record a 30-second video of you in front of the camera and then check for light quality. 

Common lighting issues and how to fix them:

  • Washed out features – dim the lightning or add a filter between you and it. A sheer curtain can help diffuse light on a bright, sunny day.
  • Strange shadows – adjust the angle of your lighting. Lights should be directly in front of you. 
  • Glare – remove or cover reflective surfaces. Eyeglasses, mirrors, windows, and metal can all reflect light in distracting ways. 

winking business man enjoys being on camera

4. Make eye contact with the camera

When you look directly at the camera, audiences will feel like you’re looking at them. If it helps, you can put something just above or beside the camera lens to help keep your focus there. A photo of your kid, a bright sticky note, or a pair of googly eyes can do the trick. Of course, just like in a face-to-face conversation, too much eye contact can feel intense or aggressive. You don’t have to stare!

5. Have a script or plan for what to say

If you’re shooting a commercial, you should have a script prepared. In that case, you can practice your lines ahead of time so you remember them when you’re in front of the camera. For interviews or other less scripted shoots, you can still practice, you just have to use your imagination. What kinds of questions might be asked? What points do you certainly want to get across? Practicing answers and talking points can help you feel more confident on the big day. 

Many people feel self-conscious in front of a camera, so it’s a good idea to do a practice shoot. You can use your cell phone or webcam to record yourself saying a few lines. Then watch the recording to see what you did well and how you could improve your presentation. The more time you spend in front of a camera, the more comfortable you will become. 

6. Being on camera doesn’t have to be scary. Relax

Finally, all these tips might feel like a lot to remember, but the most important thing is to relax. You don’t have to get it right the first time. There’s always time for one more take. The final cut might not be perfect, but when your production team is done with it, it will be something you can be proud of. 

And if being on camera just isn’t for you, there’s always animation

At IdeaRocket, we create both live-action and animated videos for marketing, education, and outreach. Contact us to start making your video. 

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