Speaking in public can be nerve-wracking enough; but when an unblinking camera lens is recording your every word for posterity it can feel even worse. As in every other realm of public speaking, however, there are some key tips and techniques I can share with you to give you the extra confidence you need.
Video is increasingly important, and you need to be comfortable with it. On one level, all you need to do is your usual thing: ignore the camera! If your conference speech is being filmed, perform as you ordinarily would and let the camera operators worry about the angles and so on. Make just one change: find out where the camera is and look straight down the lens at the most important points. That way you will be looking the whole audience in the eye.
In many cases, however, the video is more than a simple document of a speech that would have happened anyway. With all the various channels now available for video, often what is required is a presentation and a style specifically developed for the camera. In other words, you’re not just being filmed – you are talking with the people behind the lens.
I have written before about the importance of developing a rapport with the imaginary individual inside the camera, the person who will eventually watch your video. Treat them like a confidante, engage them as you would a person sitting next to you. Video presentations are a great opportunity to be more intimate than you can when speaking on stage, and that can pay real dividends in terms of engaging your audience.
Of course, the challenge is to appear relaxed. The first thing to do, then, is to feel and look your best. On camera, everything will show that bit more clearly than on stage – so iron your shirt, and don’t apply too much make-up! We call it a “close-up” for a reason.
Likewise, be gentle with yourself. Breathe and relax. Don’t rush your words – give yourself the time to say what you need at a rate that’s both comfortable and comprehensible. Smile, too – not a big ear-to-ear grin, but a soft smile that will put you and everyone else at their ease.
Do not be afraid of blinking, either: in fact, if you try to stare with open eyes for the whole presentation you will come across as unnatural and not a little scary! Blinking naturally lubricates your eyes, too, which will keep them looking bright and sparky – in other words, you will smile with your eyes, too.
Sounds pretty simple, right? In many ways, it is – and that gives you the confidence to relax, focus on the camera and be yourself. Like any other presentation, preparation is important – you need to know what you are going to say and how you will say it. Your body language will be very much on show – so don’t neglect the standard public speaking rules, either. You will be great. Lights, camera, action!