How to overcome the fear of being on video?

September 2, 2021
Being on video is intimating for most people, yet video is here to stay. And if you are not on video, you may be potentially missing out on great business opportunities. This was the topic of our Powerful Business Talks interview with Anthony Perl. Here are the key takeaways from the interview. PS! Find the full recording at the end of the post.

Video is the most watched thing on social media. The majority of people are watching them even while in the bathroom. And this trend will only increase because of the environment that we live in these days.

Even more, people are now often working from home which means they've become used to using video. There's increased globalization in terms of your potential clients, and that means that video becomes a really important medium for people to get to know you because it used to only be about geographic location. But now video provides an opportunity for people around the world to understand your expertise.

The trouble is that most people don't do it. They're intimidated by it and there's just too many obstacles. People assume that you need to spend thousands of dollars to create this highly produced corporate video but that’s just not what people want anymore. Authenticity is what matters.

So, let’s look at the biggest obstacles that stop business leaders from leveraging the power of video.

  • Making videos is too expensive?

This is a common misconception. People assume you need fancy equipment, a production team, special effects and much more. But if you're going to produce a video completely by yourself, it costs virtually nothing. Because all of us have a mobile phone in our pockets that has a very powerful camera in it. And you can do it anywhere. The biggest investment then you need to make is perhaps a little selfie-stick, which you can pick up for a few dollars. 

  • Making videos is too scary?

Being seen on camera is the biggest fear for many. People are stressed about what they're going to say on camera, how they look and how they sound. Also, the key is to keeping it contained because you really don't want a video that's going for more than three minutes. Your ideal sweet spot is around the two to three minute mark, because people are scrolling through their social media feeds, they come upon a video, and when they see that the length is over three minutes, they ask themselves: “How committed am I to watching it?” If it’s a minute or two, they think “Yeah, I can handle that”. And the reason is just that we’re all time-poor.

So, when we speak of the content of the video, what is lost on people is that how you build relationships on video is very similar to what you’d do in real life: you'd shake hands, get to know each other, have a chat, find a few things in common before you get into business. It's about allowing an opportunity for people to get to know you a little bit and to understand your expertise.

So, forget fully memorized scripts – you wouldn’t use one in real-life meeting anyway. You can have notes but don’t read from them because it is as noticeable on video as it would be in real life. Scripted is not good. It's about talking authentically! The more authentic you are, the more likely it is that you're going to be engaging with the audience.

  • Being natural on camera is difficult?

Many people have a lot of experience, a lot of very good ideas and great expertise, but as soon as you hit the record button, they freeze. There’s a lot of pressure because you’re alone on camera. It’s similar to what you may feel before a business meeting, but it is always a two-way street and in the meeting you’d answer authentically. The same should be true for being on video. It’s not about doing a hard sell, but about sharing your expertise and providing value.

A great hack would be to use an interview setting instead, it completely changes that dynamic because you're answering authentically as you're talking to someone.

Another thing is that we get stressed about the idea of hundreds or thousand of people watching us. So, the biggest trick is to pretend that you're only ever talking to one person. And if you're only talking to one person, you give over that in a much more authentic way. You're not trying to perform, you're just trying to engage with an individual.

  • The sound of your voice on video is horrible?

Most people hate the sound of their voice on video. That’s because when you hear your own voice, as you're speaking, you are actually hearing it from vibrating inside your chest. But when you’re listening to your own voice on a recording, it's very different because you're hearing a different kind of dynamic.

Your voice will never sound the same as what you imagine it to sound. But the truth is when you are out and about anywhere, you don’t really think about your voice and how it sounds. You focus on the message instead. And the same is true on video: there are other people listening to your voice, not you. To them it sounds as you’d speak to them face-to-face!

  • Not comfortable with the way you look on video?

When you're recording on your phone, you can do one of two things. You can either have the camera facing, so you can see the screen and you see what you're looking at to make sure you're looking at it, or you get someone else to record you, mark a little X spot where you're going to stand and just shoot the video quickly.

The second option is better because you are not focused on looking at yourself and the way you look. Just look at the camera and pretend that you're speaking to someone. It can often be useful if you actually do have someone with you, next to the camera. It doesn't matter whether it's a partner, a child or whoever, you can just pretend that you're talking to them

  • Don't have a suitable background for the video?

Don't overthink it in terms of lighting and background. The best videos are authentic, e.g. shot in the backyard with a nice green background, a few trees. Also, shoot the video in landscape mode, because it's a bit more flexible: you can later crop it for different platforms. Plus, you don’t have to worry as much about showing your whole body. When you stand in portrait mode, you tend to be showing head to toe, and you can get funny angles.

  • Don't know how to get started?

Just give it a go, but pre-think of a topic that you want to talk about. Imagine that you are at a dinner party and someone asks you a leading question about something in your area of expertise or simply talk about something that you've heard, read or seen in the last 24 hours. Give your take on it and just hit record. Let it go for two minutes, record it once. If you feel like you really need to, then you can do it twice, but don't get to the third, fourth, fifth time, because invariably, the first take was the best one.

It doesn't matter if you are a little bit off or if you fumble, because that's actually much more authentic. The more that it looks scripted, the less likely it is people to have a reaction. Whereas if you make the odd mistake or suddenly a bird flies by, or the kids are in the background, then that's part of normal life and we can all relate.

  • Don't know which video editing platform to use?

If you are good at learning how to use equipment and software, and it's one of those things that you love doing, and you want to learn how to do it, then go ahead and go to Adobe's Premiere Pro.There are amazing tools you can do all sorts of stuff that most people would never dream of doing.

But if you are looking at a simpler form, then even on your phone, there are basic editing tools for your video that are just natively built into your phone. You can put a simple title on, you can cut the beginning and end if you need to. If you’re an Apple user, then iMovie is brilliant. But there are plenty of platforms available, just Google it and you'll find it any number of different editing software. Some are free to use and some cost you a few dollars as a one-off, but they're not particularly expensive.

But even better is to find someone that's going to edit it for you. It saves you time and since they are experts, the end result will often look even more amazing. You just focus on recording the video and they’ll add the logo, subtitles, visual template etc.

Don't overthink it, just get started!

Anthony is the founder of CommTogether.

Starting his career in radio & television, Anthony has always had a fascination with the art of telling stories. 

For 10 years his agency CommTogether has amazed clients, recently taking out national awards for branding & websites.


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