By Christine Keys
So you’ve decided you want to make vlogs. You get all the gear set up. You sit down, press record, and then… Well, then it’s just awkward.
It’s weird, sitting down and talking to a camera. It’s weird when you first start doing it anyway. After a while, it doesn’t seem so weird anymore (and I’ll touch on why that is a bit later on).
My first sit down videos on YouTube are definitely cringe-worthy. I actually struggle to watch back on them. While the content was good, the delivery left much to be desired. I was suuuuuper formal, and very ‘bullet pointed’. It was like I was reading a script (which isn’t far from the truth!).
I’ve been doing YouTube for about 1.5 years now, and I feel like I’m way more comfortable in front of the camera. That didn’t just happen overnight. No, there were several things that helped me, and I’m going to share those with you now.
1. Talk to a Friend
This is really important. If you want what you’re saying to be heard and digested by the person watching you, you need to pretend you’re having a conversation with a friend. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, then you’re going to talk like you’re speaking to a stranger.
You’re more likely to be stilted, awkward, and standoffish.
If you can imagine that you’re talking to a good friend, then you’ll let your defences down a bit. I mean, is it not true that we don’t worry so much about impressing our good friends? I know I don’t. They love me for who I am, so I don’t have to put on many airs and graces when I’m around them.
Another idea is to ‘make up’ the person you’re speaking to. You can decide everything from their relationship status, to what their favourite meal is. If the ‘talking to a friend’ thing doesn’t suit, then make a character up that you would feel comfortable conversing with.
2. Know What You’re Going to Say
When you are first starting out with vlogging, it’s really vital that you know what you want to talk about. Just knowing your general subject is not enough. Stop and jot down several bullet points that you want to discuss. This will do two things. It will stop you from rambling, and it will help you to not forget things (the second reason is a biggie for me and my mum brain!).
I still use this tactic with 99.9% of the vlogs I make, and so far it is working well.
Knowing what you’re going to say will definitely help you appear more relaxed because you won’t be in your head so much, trying to figure out what you’re wanting to say.
As you get more confident with vlogging, you won’t need the bullet points so much, but if you want your videos to be concise, and not too ‘chit chatty’, then it’s an awesome habit to get into.
3. Don’t Use a Script
THIS! I know I just talked about making bullet points, but it is SO vital that you don’t make a script. If you’re going to appear relaxed behind the camera, you can’t be talking like you’re reading from a piece of paper. Your viewers will find it really difficult to engage with you, as there won’t be so much of the human element in your content.
Definitely, jot down bullet points, but then do some improvising. Allow your creativity to flow within the boundaries of your points.
4. Look at the Camera!
I cannot tell you how much it irks me when I’m watching a video, and the person in it either avoids looking directly at the camera or only looks at the view finder.
Eye contact is vital! You cannot effectively engage with your viewers without looking at them.
You don’t need to be super intense about it, which means it is OK to look away from the camera at times, but please make sure to focus on good, healthy eye contact.
Youtube is a way of connecting with people, and one of the easiest ways to do that, is to look at them.
Referring back to the first point…imagine you’re talking to a friend. If you were constantly avoiding eye contact, you’d probably lose their attention pretty quickly. Not least of all because they’d probably think you’re hiding something. It totally weirds me out when someone doesn’t look me in the eyes when they’re having a conversation with me. Just me? Surely not.
5. Don’t Rush
Now, I’m kind of preaching to myself here, but this is really important to note for when you’re just starting out. Don’t film when you’re in a rush. If you know you’ve only got 10-15 minutes to film a video, it’s probably a better idea to wait until you have a bit more time. Knowing that you have a deadline will immediately make you more tense, and remember, we’re aiming for relaxed.
Try to make a filming schedule. Fit it into a time slot that allows time for retakes, and setting up equipment. Depending on what you use, it can take a while to get the camera/tripod/lighting all good to go. Rushing all of these things can leave you with content that is far less than your best work. Youtube is growing by the hoards. You don’t have to have brilliant editing skills to be noticed, but your content does need to be on point. Rushing can seriously jeopardise that.
Set yourself up for success by providing yourself with adequate time to produce quality content. You will ultimately appear far more relaxed and personable in your vlogs.
That’s it, folks. Those are my 5 tips for appearing comfortable behind the camera. There’s one more thing that I want to note, though, and that is practice. You probably will be uncomfortable and awkward behind the camera at first. That’s normal, and nothing to be ashamed of. It’s something new, and it takes time to master it. Practice is your best friend. The more you practice, the easier it gets. It also gets easier as your following grows on YouTube. I don’t have a huge following by any means, but I have made some friends along the way. I no longer need to imagine I’m talking to a friend, because the reality is that I am talking to several friends, and that doesn’t feel weird at all. It really does make it easier to be comfortable in the conversation.
I hope you enjoyed these tips. A big thank you to Fern for inviting me to share this post with you all!
Of course, there are plenty of other tips that can help you to relax, so please feel free to share them in the comments below. YouTube is a community, after all, so helping each other to achieve success is key!
Christine Keys is a wife, mum of two, motherhood & lifestyle blogger, and vlogger. Christine loves eating chocolate and watching Grey’s Anatomy, while simultaneously scrolling through Pinterest. You can find out more about Christine on her website, Instagram, and by subscribing to her YouTube channel.