The Wistia Guide to Being on Camera

February 25, 2021

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Jenny Coppola


Lisa Marinelli


Raise your hand if you want to star in your company’s next business video! Chances are that unless acting was a missed calling of yours, your hand probably isn’t shooting up into the air. In fact, the mere thought of being on camera might even cause your palms to sweat.

For many marketers, being in front of the camera isn’t as easy as it sounds. When it comes to mustering up the courage to star in a video at your business, most people need a little help in order to nail their performance (and feel comfortable while doing it). That’s why we’ve written this guide all about being on camera. Next thing you know, you’ll be walking into the studio with the confidence of Brad Pitt.

From addressing and understanding the science behind your stage fright to learning what colors are most flattering on camera, you’ll walk away feeling more assured and ready — even eager — to get in front of the camera!

The marketing benefits of being in a video

What if we told you that showcasing the people who work at your business is actually a strategic tactic marketers can use in their videos? And what if we told you it was proven scientifically? It’s true! The warm, friendly folks who work at your business — not actors — are the best people to feature in your business videos. Your viewers are more likely to trust your brand when you’re able to share information in an authentic way with video. Learn how featuring real people in your videos has a psychological impacts on your viewers:

“Your viewers are more likely to trust your brand when you are able to share information in an authentic way with video.”

Why Videos Featuring Humans Are Easier to Trust: It’s easier to understand and trust your business when viewers can see the human behind the voice in your video. When you take the time to consider all the aspects that contribute to this phenomenon, you’ll be better equipped to make a video that connects with your audience. In this post, we take a closer look at the science behind speech perception, how it relates to trust, and how to make your next video more convincing.

Your Business’s Videos Should Include Faces. Here’s Why: Ah, the brain. Such a complex part of the human anatomy. As it turns out, your brain is hardwired to respond to human faces. From the moment you’re born, you constantly seek out faces with the hopes of understanding social cues. In this post, we explain why the brain loves faces so much, and how you can use this to your advantage in future videos.

Web Psychology and Video: An Interview with Nathalie Nahai: We talk to Nathalie Nahai, a web psychologist, author, and host of The Guardian’s Tech Weekly podcast, about the link between behavioral sciences and the digital space. From the biggest mistakes businesses can make with video, to tips for getting in front of the camera, Nathalie covers it all.

Why being on camera is so scary

In order to succeed in nailing your on-screen performance, it’s helpful to understand why it’s so scary to be on camera in the first place. The truth is, it’s human nature.

The intense nerves people often feel in front of the camera are one of the most common reasons they don’t want to make videos in the first place. But by understanding where this fear comes from, you’ll be able to rationalize that terrified gut-reaction a little bit better. Here are some posts that can help you zen-out and put it all into perspective:

Why We Get Stage Fright When We Turn on the Camera: If you dread getting up on stage, talking in front of large groups, or even standing in front of a camera, you’re not alone. From a scientific perspective, when you start to feel anxious or get stage fright, you’re not just simply forgetting your lines — your brain holds you back from even thinking of the words. Here, we break down where this fear comes from and provide a few pointers for overcoming those fears and delivering your best performance.

Say What? Why Your Voice Sounds So Weird in Videos: “Is that really what I sound like?” We’re betting that you, like countless others before you, have uttered that exact phrase at some point. Why is it that what we think we sound like and what we actually sound like are so different? You guessed it — our brains are playing with us again. Learn the science behind those perplexing tricks in this auditory deep-dive.

The Science Behind Why Your Gestures Look So Awkward: It’s hard not to be your own worst critic when it comes to viewing yourself on camera. When you watch the take you just shot, it’s all-too-common to feel horrified by what you’ve just witnessed. Instead of letting those awkward gestures overwhelm you, you can learn how to use your body language to make yourself feel more confident on camera. Better performances are within reach!

Getting comfortable with your script

What’s one overlooked facet of performing for a video that can contribute to those pesky jitters? Familiarity (or lack thereof) with the script. Whether or not you’re actually responsible for writing the script, it’s crucial that you feel comfortable with the tone and flow of the words you’re responsible for delivering. If you’re the person directing people on camera, review the script beforehand and have production meetings with the talent to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

If you’re the talent, engage with the script and make a roadmap for yourself! Read your script out loud alone or run lines with a friend. Jot down notes when it’s helpful, especially if this is an unscripted scene or show. Giving the script a quick once-over before it’s time to shine is rarely enough to feel truly comfortable with your delivery.

Thankfully, these posts can give you a much needed confidence boost when it’s time to perform:

“It is crucial that you feel comfortable with the tone and flow of the words you’re responsible for delivering.”

The Table Read: Reading your script out loud before heading into the studio will not only save you time, but it’ll also help you feel more confident in your performance well before you hit the record button. Before the day of your shoot, talk through the scripts at a table read with the whole cast or one-on-one with your producer. Rehearsing can help you work out any kinks, and it gives you time to rework the script with the writer if anything feels unnatural. Here are our best tips for conducting a productive table read, including how to edit your script to sound more natural on camera.

Wistia’s Scripting Tips: Many companies describe scripting as a big pain point in the video production process. And it’s true — there’s a ton to consider when writing a script. One component to script writing that can make all the difference for the on-screen performer is the type of language that’s used throughout. Keep it clear, conversational, engaging, and avoid buzzwords. This guide will help you get the ball rolling on a script that suits your brand’s tone of voice.

Nailing your on-screen performance

Once you feel comfortable with your script, it’s finally time to do the darn thing. At Wistia, we’re firm believers that being on camera is all about being yourself. After all, your viewers will be able to tell if you’re over-acting (think flailing hands) or under-performing (think glazed over zombie-face). Delivering your lines in a way that’s both natural and engaging is a key component of being on camera. These blog posts will give you a better understanding of how to give a performance that’s just right:

Creating an Authentic On-Camera Persona: Keeping it real on camera is easy — said no one ever. That’s why creating an authentic on-camera persona is fundamental for conveying the right message to your viewers. Practice in front of a mirror or take it a step further, record yourself, and then watch the playback! Get a better idea of what gestures look natural. In this post, we share eight go-to tips for establishing a voice that will make both you and your audience feel comfortable and confident.

Bringing the Right Energy to Your Videos: Finding the right balance between giving it your all and not giving enough can be tricky. Too little energy and you’ll come across as disinterested and boring. Too much energy and you run the risk of coming off as disingenuous, or worse, scaring off your audience. Play around with our interactive energy slider and watch how varying levels of energy can impact the viewing experience.

Get Loose — Being Yourself on Camera: None of us at Wistia are actors, and for many of us, it’s taken a lot of time to get comfortable on camera. Luckily, anyone can get through their first video shoot with some proactive coaching and words of encouragement. Ultimately, the key to a natural on-screen performance is to not take yourself too seriously. Watch our video for a bunch of ideas for getting loose on camera!

It sounds cheesy, but the key is to be yourself. If you’re not a professional actor, don’t act — do you. Now, there’s something to be said for honing your skills, developing your talent, and aspiring to be the best version of yourself on camera. For anyone, it can be instructive to watch some similar videos for inspiration on what to do (and what not to do!).

How to look great on camera

One crucial component to being on camera is looking (and feeling) your best. Often, these notions are closely intertwined: If you look good, you’ll feel good… and feeling good leads to a more natural on-screen performance! When it’s time to step in front of those bright lights, there are a few easy tweaks you can make to both your physical appearance and physical environment that will help you maintain your already flattering aesthetic on screen. Check out these super-actionable tips for looking great on camera:

“If you look good, you’ll feel good… and feeling good leads to a more natural on-screen performance.”

Dressing for the Camera: Most people have a hard enough time deciding what to wear on an average day, let alone what they should wear in front of the camera. Ultimately, if the goal of your video is to engage with your audience, your wardrobe choices should help you achieve that goal, not distract your viewers. Here are some ideas for choosing an outfit that’s equal parts flattering and appropriate for the big screen.

Look Great in Your Next Webcam Video: You want to look and sound professional in all the videos you create, right? Well, if you’re using a webcam to record yourself, you may have noticed that webcams aren’t exactly flattering. However, with a few simple tweaks, you can significantly improve how you look. In this post, our video producer walks you through some hot tips for looking your best on a webcam.

6 Quick Tips for Looking Good on Camera: Solid colors or patterns? Makeup or no makeup? These are all common questions we’ve fielded from on-screen talent. Luckily, there are some best practices that will have you looking and feeling your best on camera.

Tips for those behind the camera

If you happen to be the lucky one behind the camera, we’ve got more suggestions for you, too! Helping your subject build up their on-camera confidence is vital for landing successful takes, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to help them feel right at home.

Above all, do your best to establish a nonthreatening video environment. You’re responsible for setting the tone on set. It’s your job to make the actors (and everyone else on set) feel comfortable, pumped up, and excited to do their best work. When you make your subjects feel good, a stellar performance will follow. Follow the advice laid out in these posts, and you’ll have people begging to be in your company’s next video:

How to Direct Non-Actors in Your Next Video: At Wistia, we’re all about making businesses more human, so we like to encourage everyone in the company to get in front of the camera at one point or another. However, that can be a challenge for many businesses just getting started with video. That’s why we put together this guide on directing non-actors (AKA your coworkers!) so that they can nail their next performance. Check it out, then share it with your teammates!

Educating Employees about Being on Camera: Don’t just take our word for it: Bamboo HR’s video team put together this helpful video that covers all the key points for being on camera. They even email the video to every employee they schedule a shoot for, so that when they’re on set, the subject feels more confident about the entire process. Talk about efficiency!

Step in front of the camera today

With all of these tips now in your back pocket, you can feel empowered to take on your next big video shoot. As is the case with so many things in life, the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll feel. Practice makes perfect, so push yourself out of those cozy comfort zones and volunteer to star in the next video your business makes. You’ve got this!

February 25, 2021

Topic tags

Jenny Coppola


Lisa Marinelli


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