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Okay, We’re Recording: Tips For Your First Time On Screen

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

So turns out you actually need to be in that one marketing video the creative team won’t stop yammering about.

Thanks a lot, Karen.

They know you’re more of the behind the scenes worker-bee type, right? You’ve never done any sort of camera interview. The thought of a camera in your face (even an iPhone) makes you cringe and recoil. You have managed to avoid every company holiday card photo for the last decade.

Before you go paying off members of the creative team to try and avoid stepping in front of the lens, just hear us out.

It’s not that bad.

Why are people nervous about going in front of the camera?

People tend to be more nervous about misrepresenting themselves than the actual camera.

So here are a few tips to crush your on camera moment, and make yourself and your company look great!

What to Wear

First, take into account the brand or business you are representing. For some, that might mean sporting a branded polo. For others, that might mean business professional attire, such as a suit.

Sometimes the creative team already knows the “look” they are going for, and it’s based around brand or company culture. This makes your life much easier! So talk with your team first to avoid any unnecessary stress.

If you’re on your own, here are some basics rules to follow.

Wear a bright, solid color. This tends to look best on camera. Solid black and white outfits are not ideal. White can appear too bright and black can cause a person to get lost in the background.

Patterns, like stripes or floral, create distractions. Avoid those.

We are visual creatures. Our brains are wired to register visual information before auditory. You don’t want anyone focused on what you’re wearing. We want them to focus on what you’re saying.

When in doubt, keep it clean, crisp and simple.

Hair, Accessories and Make-up

Above all, hair and make-up should not be distracting. Eye contact on camera is important, so avoiding a hairstyle that easily falls into the eyes. If it's windy and you're outside, it might make sense for a woman with long hair to pull it back.

If you tend to fidget with your hair, tuck it or push it back as a habit, just pull it back. I realize some men do this too, but that’s not as easy to hide. So for men, a short style tends to work best, because it is least distracting. Avoid using too much of a hair product that might produce a shine or a stiff look.

For accessories, less is more. Stay away from very dangly or shiny pieces of jewelry. The idea is to draw the eye up and to your face. So a very dangly necklace or earrings will be a distraction. Every time you move, these pieces of bling will catch the light and distract the eye. Go with a simple stud-type earring or a simple necklace that rests near the clavicle.

Make-up can be a big stumbling block especially for men. But, I highly recommend wearing make-up when on camera—that goes for both men and women.

Professional lighting can accentuate blemishes or discoloration of the skin. Make-up helps to create an even skin tone and avoid areas of shine that reflect the light and cause distraction.

To the gentleman averse to the thought of buying make-up, I recommend visiting Target for a basic powder and foundation. It will save you money, and Target now has a beauty counter. So you can ask an associate to help you match your skin tone. It’s quick, easy and relatively painless. I like Maybelline Fit Me. You can get a powder and a foundation for under 20 bucks.

Women also need foundation at a minimum (a BB Cream won’t cut it). Women should opt for a "daytime" look versus a "nighttime" look. The eyes should appear bright and natural as opposed to over-lined; avoiding dark eye shadow. Lip color should be a shade or two darker than your natural lip color. This provides definition, but avoids distraction with a shade that is too bold.

What Do I Do With My Hands?

Natural hand gestures are ideal, but some hand gestures can become a distraction. On camera, people are typically shown from the chest up. So if you’re a hand talker (like me), it can be distracting for gestures to come in and out of the shot. Work on keeping your hand movements below chest level. This will let you move and talk naturally without hands becoming a distraction to the person watching on a screen.

It's also important to consider what to do with your hands when you're not moving them. We don't constantly move our hands with every word, so it's important to practice a comfortable resting position. Avoid interlocking fingers, rubbing hands together, or clutching, because this will make you come across as nervous or tense.

Posture and Body Language

If you’re seated, sit up in your chair with feet flat on the floor if possible. This will help pull your shoulders back a bit, so you don’t look slouched. If standing, you'll want to avoid swaying or bouncing.

If you struggle with any of these posture issues, let the director know ahead of time. Tell them to stop recording and let you know if you're doing something like this. A seasoned director will typically step in on your behalf, but that's not always the case!

Be your own best advocate.

Pauses Versus Uh's and Um's

It's common in conversation for people to add in a filler - um, err, uh, like, ya know - to name a few. This can make video editing a challenge, and you're less likely to be satisfied with how you sound in the finished product.

So when you feel one of these fillers coming on, take a pause instead. It might feel like an eternity to you, but in reality, it's probably just a second or two. The video editor will be so grateful later to have a pause instead of a loud or long 'uuuuuhhhhhh' to edit through.

It’s a Conversation

Treat an interview on camera like a conversation.

You are simply talking with the person who is interviewing you. In a typical conversation, you maintain good eye contact with that person. So, don’t look directly into the lens. Look at the person interviewing you.

Also consider where you're looking when you stop to think. Most people tend to look up and away or down when they think. This can cause you to appear unsure or unaware of what you're saying.

Maintaining eye contact appears more confident and engaging. But, don't forget to blink!

Remember, there is a reason your organization wants you to be part of their creative efforts.

Feel flattered, not afraid!

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