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Creating An Authentic On-Camera Persona

It's hard to step on camera for the first time, especially when there's pressure to be "authentic." I asked around the office for people's tips for keeping it real on screen.

My best suggestions are to have a script written up in advance, and understand the main concepts of what you are trying to convey in the video.  I think the planning part is pretty crucial - if you get in the head of your viewer, you'll understand what type of value they will want to get from watching the video, so your answer (i.e. script) will be designed for them. Then, force memorization, and don't use a teleprompter device - it's impossible to be authentic with a teleprompter!  Finally, work with a good director, who can spot when you are being authentic and call you on it if you aren't. -Jeff

I think an authentic on-camera persona is best created by taking a relaxed, not-in-yo-face attitude. Talking to the camera like it's one of your friends (it's easy with Lavigne back there!) makes you feel comfortable, and when you're comfortable behind camera it's tough not to come across as authentic. -Max K.

- It's all about getting comfortable with the fact that you're on camera. And not being afraid to laugh at yourself when you screw up.
- Trust in the person that is editing the video that it's in EVERYONE'S best interest to use lines and takes that reflect you in the best light.
- Lighten up! Don't overthink the line.
- If you're reading off of a script or a pre-scripted line, think about the meaning of what you're saying, not just the words. If you actually believe in what you're saying, then say it like you mean it.
- Did I mention lighten up? Don't be afraid to go way overboard with emotion, because you can always back it down. -Chris L.

Pretend you're talking directly to a customer instead of talking to the camera or a large audience. -Ben

- Try to have a conversation with the person doing the shooting.
- Watch your first take or two to see what the camera sees ... and how inauthentic you sound. Then try again.
- Don't listen to me because I'm still learning. (Oh, stop it!)
- Keep your lines short and don't worry about hitting them word for word.
- Do something fun between takes to distract yourself; I pick up random stuff and try juggling it. It helps me go from super nervous to marginally nervous. -Ezra

I'm not great on camera (again: oh, stop it!), but I like to imagine I've just stepped into a room of people who really want to be my friend.  Also, I don't know what the sciencey word for this is, but using expressions as a feedback loop is awesome - happy, excited people open their eyes wide, lean forward, smile wide and move their lips more when they speak (vs. mumbling), so if you try to manipulate your face like this it actually makes you feel happier, excited, and more engaging-Joe

- Eye contact (with the camera).
- Actual/honest facial expressions that you'd use in any conversation with another person.
- Move... don't stand still.
- Don't speak in a monotone.
- Get your hands in the frame somehow. -Adam

You shouldn't fight your personality, way of speaking, and vocabulary. It's tough to write a script in your own voice, so instead first focus on getting the major points across. Once you've nailed the points, read your lines aloud or to somebody else. You goal is to make your presentation as natural as possible. The closer the performance is to the real you, the easier it's going to be to be authentic. Viewers want to see your personality shine through. That's one of the things that makes video so interesting. The closer you can get to using your real voice in the script, the more authentic the performance is going to feel. -Chris S.


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