Unless you’ve been living in a cave (er — scratch that — aren’t we all, in the midst of this pandemic?), you know that video is prolific these days. In our Facebook and Instagram feeds, we’ve been seeing even more viral videos, ads from marketers, and personal videos from our family and friends.

In fact, Hubspot predicts that marketers will continue to increase their use of video in 2021, and rightfully so. According to the annual Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing Survey, 68% of consumers say that the pandemic has affected the amount of video content they’ve watched online, with 96% of those consumers saying the number of videos they’ve watched has increased.

And it’s no wonder that with the restrictions of the pandemic, the number of people working from home, and far fewer visits with family and friends than ever before, we all crave the personal connection that video offers.

But even with this shift in communication and marketing medium and the benefits that come along with it, we all know that while consuming video is great, not everyone is as comfortable appearing on video.

I’ll admit that by nature, I am not the most eager person to be on video myself. I tend to judge myself way too harshly due to my analytical side. (I was an image consultant for 7 years and have worked in a number of analyst roles.) The critical left side of my brain often gets in the way of my more creative right, if I’m not careful. I pore over my every word, stumble, and pause. I worry that a strand of hair on my head might be slightly out of place. (Seriously.) It isn’t fun, but it’s my brain’s default.

I believe that many of the issues with appearing on video (and with appearances in general) can be attributed to a few factors: a type of OCD mindset like mine, issues with self-esteem, or the lack of the proper technical setup or know-how to shoot video (or a combination of those).

Luckily, there are ways to address those challenges and present yourself on video more easily and with confidence. Since the issues can result from either internal or external factors, I’ve split up the tips into two categories…

Tech tips for creating videos more confidently

  1. First, know that you don’t have to have fancy, expensive equipment to get a good video. Whether you’re setting up for a Zoom meeting, Facebook Live, or creating a prerecorded video, a smartphone or webcam, earbuds, and good lighting (like daylight) are all you really need to get started. (Interested in learning more? Subscribe to get notified of our upcoming training course on how to create amazing videos with your smartphone.)
  2. Good audio is key. Studies show that audiences are more likely to tune out of a video if it has bad audio than if it has bad video quality. Earbuds come highly recommended because they prevent your voice from sounding tinny or boomy. This can simply be the cheap wired kind that comes with many phones, or you can opt for a wireless pair such as Apple AirPods.
  3. Experiment with a few practice rounds. In the past, I’ve set up a Zoom test meeting with myself, hit Record, and started talking. I’d do separate recordings with different lighting, mic setups, and webcam angles, then play back the videos later to see which ones looked and sounded the best. Once you have a handle on this, you’ll know what setup works best for you and can replicate that for future videos.
  4. It does help to have some additional equipment, like a tripod for stabilizing your camera, which reduces shake and allows you to get a good camera angle. But if you’re just starting out, it’s better to get yourself out there rather than waiting for the perfect setup. You can improve as you go.
  5. For videos that you are pre-recording and uploading later, be sure to trim off the beginning and end (where you might be setting up, turning your camera on and off, sitting down or standing) for a more professional look. You can use a simple free movie-editing tool, like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, to trim the ends. You can also add title slides as you feel comfortable and see fit.

And now, for the more interpersonal stuff…

Tips for feeling more comfortable on video in your own skin:

  1. Practice on your own. As I mentioned in the tech tips, it helps to take a few practice recordings. And this isn’t just to check your equipment setup — it’s also about paying attention to the cadence and rhythm of your voice, the volume of your voice (are you too loud, or too soft?), and how much you’re actually looking at the camera (and ultimately, your audience).
  2. Practice with a friend. Ask someone you trust and feel comfortable with to spend a few minutes on a Zoom call with you as you practice a presentation or talk, or send them a quick practice round recording to review. Don’t be afraid to hear their feedback, both constructive and positive. This insight will help you move forward and perhaps give you some tangible goals to work towards. (Want to learn our method for practicing and feeling more comfortable on video? Enroll in our online Video Shy course here.)
  3. Smile. When you smile on camera, it makes a huge difference in the way you look and sound, as well as in the way you reach and affect your audience with your energy and vibes. Of course, you don’t want to put on a fake smile throughout your video, and especially if you’re speaking about a more somber topic. But I would encourage opening and closing with a smile — if not for your audience, for yourself, as smiling can help you feel more confident and excited to speak on camera.

The biggest tip I can give you on feeling more confident on camera is to simply