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10 April 2024  •  Katrina Shute, Principal Media Trainer

Camera Shy

Katrina Shute

In an increasingly digital world, appearing on camera has become a common occurrence in the workplace, but for many camera-shy employees, it’s a much-dreaded job requirement to be avoided where possible. Learn to conquer those fears with insider techniques from former Ten News Anchor and our Principal Media Trainer Katrina Shute, to keep your cool and stay on message whenever you’re in front of the lens.

From corporate videos and online pitches to virtual meetings and social media posts, there’s a growing expectation for employees to be camera ready and comfortable to jump into the spotlight.

But as every introvert can attest to, the mere thought of appearing on camera can terrify even the most proficient speaker. As a television news reporter I would often be surprised that the animated and well-spoken person I had been having a pre-interview chat with, had turned into a stammering mess after the camera operator called “rolling”.

Now, assisting clients as a media trainer, spokespeople often tell me they may have all their key messages ready to go but the simple action of pointing a camera in their direction will turn their mind blank. So what causes this on-camera turmoil that can negatively impact our work and career progression? It’s likely a combination of several factors.

  1. Being self conscious – you find it challenging to be in the limelight, or have discomfort with self image which leads to concern over being judged on how you appear, and sound, on camera.
  2. A fear of public speaking – along with 80 percent of the population the mere thought of talking to a group of people, all focused on you, gets the cortisol pumping.
  3. And the big one - awareness the camera is recording the moment to be watched and rewatched by others for all eternity.

Simply identifying the root cause of what it is that makes you camera shy can be a huge part of resolving the issue, but there are clear strategies to implement that can assist in boosting your camera comfort factor.

  • Switch off the internal self-critic – no one will judge you harsher than you judge yourself. Plus, you are overestimating how much others are thinking about you, they’re not, they’re likely thinking about how they are going to benefit from what you’re telling them.
  • Be camera ready – dress appropriately for the location, subject matter and your audience. Corporate video in the office? Don a blazer. Socials post outdoors? Ditch the suit, it will seem stuffy and out of place. The rule of thumb for on-camera work is that solid, block colours work best. Avoid thin stripes that have a tendency to strobe.
  • Prepare and practice – plan your key messages in dot points, rather than writing a full script which you will attempt to memorise. It may end up looking more hostage video than natural conversationalist. And, most importantly, practice your key messages out loud. Our words often sound very different in our head, and by practicing out loud, you’ll get comfortable articulating your thoughts. Record it on your phone and watch it back to get comfortable seeing, and hearing, yourself on camera. The more we do it, the better we get. 

There are a host of techniques we use in media and presentation training to help clients feel more comfortable on camera, but the key to success is understanding that your audience exists behind the lens. What is it you need to tell them, and how can they help you achieve your goal? Thinking of the camera as a relatable audience as opposed to an intimidating object will encourage a more natural delivery. 

And finally, smile! Don’t be afraid to look like you’re having fun on camera despite the inner turmoil you may be experiencing. Your viewers are more likely to respond positively to a confident, calm and friendly face, and you might just end up enjoying the experience!

For more information on media and presentation training reach out to katrinas@bastionreputation.com.au

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