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Conquer Your Video Fears and Get on Camera

With several video meetings under your belt, it’s time to make yourself the star of the show. Step out from those internal meetings and go live for all to see. You’ll gain visibility and enhance your personal brand.

Ian Anderson Gray is here to help.

Founder of Seriously Social, a U.K.-based marketing consultancy, Ian helps clients use live video to boost their impact. He is host of the aptly named Confident Live Marketing Show aired on YouTube Live and Facebook Live. He also hosts the Confident Live Marketing Podcast.

Ian shared these ideas at Content Marketing World 2019 in a presentation, Strategies, Tools & Techniques to Level Up Your Impact & Authority Through Confident Live Video.

Get over your video fears

When Ian’s clients explain the barriers to creating live video content, their responses form this word cloud:

You may share some of these same concerns:

  • Started (e.g., getting started)
  • Confidence
  • Nervous
  • Consistency
  • Equipment

These barriers form syndromes – groups of symptoms – that prevent people from doing live video. Ian lists these video syndromes:

There’s a little bit for everyone in these syndromes: personality (I’m-an-introvert syndrome), logistics (technology-excuse syndrome), perception (“don’t-like-how-I-look syndrome”) and self-worth (comparison syndrome).

Ian analyzed these syndromes to assess his condition and came to a conclusion. “I dug a little bit deeper, and I realized that these were just excuses. I was just nervous about going live, and I was coming up with all these excuses to basically stop myself from actually doing it.”

Are you in the same situation? Here’s some help.

Ian suggests two steps to crush apprehension:

  1. Get started.
  2. Embrace the wrong.
Crush your on-camera #video apprehension: (1) Get started and (2) Embrace the wrong, says @iagdotme via @CMIContent. #Livestream Click To Tweet

Live video has a chicken-and-egg scenario: If you don’t start, you never build the confidence to command the medium. Ian captures this point with the following chart:

Get comfortable with the idea that your videos won’t be great in the beginning. “(In) the first few videos that you create, you’re going to be scared if you’re like most people. The quality of the videos isn’t going to be that great.”

As the chart above shows, however, practice grows confidence and soon enough, no one remembers your first few videos.

Ian’s next suggestion is to embrace the wrong.

“Occasionally, you’ll have blips, but keep creating that content. Learn from your mistakes. I want you to think about embracing the wrong. Don’t try to be perfect. Try and be you. Try to be more authentic or try to communicate your brand’s authenticity,” he says.

Ian shares the example of Janet Murray, a speaker and entrepreneur. At the end of a live video, Janet forgot to turn off her broadcast equipment and ended up eating her lunch in front of the live camera:

As Ian’s reply tweet (above) suggests, it probably resulted in entertainment value for her audience. And the unintended lunch broadcast showed Janet’s authenticity.

If you struggle with embracing the wrong, Ian asks you to consider this quote from marketing expert and author Philip Kotler:

Marketers need to adapt to this new reality and create brands that behave like humans – approachable and likeable, but also vulnerable. Brands should become less intimidating. They should become authentic and honest, admit their flaws, and stop trying to seem perfect.

Ian talks about why the inherent imperfections in live video are actually part of its charm in this short video:

Get going on video

Once on a visit to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., I discovered a station where I could be recorded narrating game highlights from an anchor desk. Minutes later, I could watch it on the screen.

If I was a professional sports broadcaster, I imagine how useful this exercise could be before going on air for the first time.

Ian has two tips that provide similar opportunities for a dry run:

  1. Do Instagram Stories as you prerecord the videos, which disappear after 24 hours.
  2. Do a Facebook Live with privacy settings set so only you can see it.

Practice being on camera. Use @Facebook Live and set the privacy settings to “only me,” says @iagdotme via @CMIContent. #Livestream Click To Tweet

While these practices can make you more comfortable in front of a camera, you also should review the recordings. Give yourself constructive feedback on each one. Ian suggests grabbing a journal and writing:

  • Three things you did well
  • Three things to improve

Make the improvements and double down on the successes in your next set of practice videos. Continue this cycle until you’re ready to premiere your live video.

TIP: To understand the technical logistics, I used the rear-facing camera position in my first Facebook Live. Instead of showing myself, I showed an opera singer in an impromptu performance at a ski lodge.

Get warmed up for your live broadcast

Ian is a professional singer who trained at the Royal Northern College of Music. He was taught to communicate with confidence and learned how to prepare for a performance.

Whether the person going live talks about marketing or sings opera, they are giving a performance. Here are the six elements of Ian’s warmup formula to make it a success:

Warming up your body and voice is essential to on-camera success, says @iagdotme via @CMIContent. #Livestream #Video Click To Tweet
  1. Relaxing body – Conduct a set of stretching exercises and shoulder massages (self-administered) to relax the body and loosen tension.
  2. Posture – Sit or stand up straight. The right posture helps with breathing, which in turn helps your communication.
  3. Breath control – Complete a set of exercises that uses your diaphragm muscle to regulate breathing. Breathe in, then exhale with a “vvvvvvv” sound. Extend each exhale (e.g., 6 seconds, 9 seconds, etc.).
  4. Pitch interest – Avoid talking in a monotone. Add excitement to your voice to improve the listening experience and keep the audience engaged.
  5. Diction and energy – Get your words out clearly. You can do the fun exercise Ian did with the CMWorld audience: Sing “Daddy’s got a head like a ping-pong ball” to the tune of Rossini’s William Tell Overture.
  6. Heightened authenticity – Adjust your energy to the audience setting. In a one-to-one setting, you speak more gently, but in small group, workshop, video and conference talk, your energy and intensity must rise.

Want to learn more? Listen to the How to Warm Up Your Voice and Communicate episode from Ian’s Confident Live Marketing podcast.

Are you ready to get live video?

My journey to live video followed paths similar to Ian’s suggestions To get comfortable on camera, I used the Chrome plug-in Screencastify (free and paid versions) to record short videos that I posted to Twitter and LinkedIn. Prior to that, I hosted or moderated audio webinars, which gave me the confidence to speak to a live audience (i.e., even though I wasn’t on camera).

These activities made the move to live video feel natural. If a snafu arose, I “embraced the wrong.” If I didn’t like how I looked on camera, I knew I had to adjust my thinking.

One thing I haven’t done is a warmup before going live. Before my next broadcast, I’m going to do a number of Ian’s exercises. How about you? Where are you on the journey to live video? Please share in the comments. 

Here’s an excerpt from Ian’s talk:

Join us for Content Marketing World 2020 online. You’ll see live video play out in keynote speeches and Q&As with the prerecorded presentations. More importantly, you’ll grow your content marketing skills. Register today.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute