Dazzled by bright lights, staring into the unblinking glassy stare of the camera. You hear a distant voice shout ‘ACTION!!” you open your mouth to speak annnnd…suddenly your mind goes blank. Sound familiar? Even if you’ve never been in the hot seat for a video interview, we all know how it feels to be in the spotlight, under pressure to perform.
Unfortunately when nerves kick in, our brain – right when we need it the most, seems to abandon us, leaving us in a slurry of ums and ahhs and confumbled sentences.
It seems our fight or flighty brains can’t differentiate between the threat of being eaten by a tiger, and having to answer questions under the unwavering stare of a camera lens. This is a very normal reaction to a very abnormal situation, and something I’ve seen countless times when filming video interviews.
Fortunately there are a few ways to prevent fear and anxiety from taking the driving seat in these situations, both from a interviewer’s perspective and as an interviewee. I hope you find them helpful!
1. Be Present
This is a big one. In any stressful situation our thoughts tend to turn inwards on ourselves, and we can become overly conscious about how we look, what we’re saying and how we’re saying it. All these extra thoughts cloud our thought process, and we tend to start rigorously screening everything we say in our heads before we say it.
This is a problem, because self criticism and over-thinking is the number one way to kill your conversation flow. Staying present in the moment means paying attention to your environment, your key message and what the other person is saying – trusting in yourself that the words will come, instead of worrying about what you’re going to say next.
If you find this difficult, try focusing on something to ground you in the moment. This could be following your breathing for 2 minutes, noticing the weight of your body in your seat or even just making conversation with your interviewer, which will also get you into the flow of talking.
Ultimately we are at our most confident when we’re not even thinking about ourselves. Get passionate about your topic, and let that be your focus.
2. Don’t Over-Script (or script at all)
This is something I see quite a lot. When faced with an unknown outcome, such as what is going to come out of their mouth when asked tricky questions – the coping mechanism of most people is to over prepare. This means people will arrive to a shoot with a 3 page length document with every word meticulously scrutinised to make sure it is selling them in their best light.
One of the problems with doing this is that we don’t speak how we write. Trying to read out a script that doesn’t match our natural speaking style can feel stiff and forced, and often lacks the passion and personality that we’re ultimately trying to get across.
Secondly, over-scripting comes back to staying present in the moment. When your mind is anticipating every line you have to remember, you’re not thinking about what your saying in that instant.
It’s a bit like driving a car, you shouldn’t be thinking about the right-turn and hasty reverse manouvre in a later part of your journey, you should be instinctively adjusting and reacting to what is happening in the moment.
It’s not to say scripting is wrong or shouldn’t be used, as for some people a lot of practice can eradicate a lot of these issues.
You should however see what technique works best for you and your style, whether this means a script, simple bullet points or no prompting at all.
3. Get Comfy
It’s important to feel confident and comfortable when being interviewed, and a strong posture will also translate better on camera. Take time to get comfortable – for some people this might be standing up, which gives you a bit more freedom to move your arms and position your feet.
Some may prefer to be seated, which does tend to look more relaxed, but just be aware to avoid slouching. Be mindful to adopt open, confident poses. This means not crossing your legs, and arms, and using wide open gestures when talking.
Don’t be afraid to get expressive. 90% of your message will be translated through body language, and this is what will help keep your viewer engaged and interested in what you have to say.
4. Be Clear On the Objective
It’s really important for both the interviewer and interviewee to be on the same page. If you have an objective – a certain mood, angle or style you want to get across, discuss this with your interviewer. That way you can be guided on whether what your saying is hitting the mark and addressing the points you want covered.
5. Include the Question In Your Answer
For ease of editing you will usually want to include the question in your answer. This is a good safety net in case the subject you’re discussing is not clear in the context of the whole edit, and also gives the editor something to refer back to later when details may not be so fresh.
It’s also worth considering whether it’s ok to mention specific names of products or people, or if there are subjects to avoid in your answers before beginning.
6. Be Passionate
When someone is passionate about their subject, it makes you care about it too. Think about your tone of voice, your pacing and the way you can express your message with your body. Visualise having the conversation with a close friend and how that might go.
Having energy and passion on-screen is vital to an engaging interview. Start speaking at an energy level of 120%. This may feel strange and forced at first, but if you watch it back you’ll notice that this translates much better on camera, and is actually perceived at more like 100% to everyone else.
When faced with a camera it’s common for people to suddenly switch personalities, and become the stiff BBC new presenter type that they think people want to see. This style may be great for the news, but if you’re selling yourself or the personality behind your business, you want to be just that – yourself!
Take a deep breath, smile and remember that you’re really just talking to one person at a time behind their screens.
So there you have it, a few tips to help get you looking and feeling great on camera! If you’re considering having interviews filmed for your business but are apprehensive, get in touch today for a free consultation (and pep talk!).