On-camera inertia, aka wooden-face syndrome, petrifies us all at some time 😆! Some skills are innate but more often than not new skills need practice, time, energy and effort.
When I’m coaching clients on how to create videos and overcome their nerves, I often liken it to working out. Your motivation might be muscle tone, fitness or mental health, regardless, when you do hit the gym, if you haven’t been for awhile, or ever ... it’s going to be uncomfortable!
You might get butterflies, you might undermine your ability and your strength and you’ll probably feel self-conscious. You might even have to admit to yourself that this new skill is really hard for you! I mean, who the b%&p invented burpees anyway!?
Resistance, inertia, fear, nerves… these are all totally natural when learning new skills—video and burpees alike! It’s not uncommon to experience discomfort or a level of self consciousness. Heck, we’re stretching out and away from our comfort zones—this is serious stuff! SO, it only makes extra smart common sense to plan for this and to identify strategies that help you commit to turning up and doing the practice in spite of those fears, aka ‘accountability’, or for some of us, ‘adulting’!
The more you work your video muscle memory, the easier it becomes. After a few weeks of doing something new, you’ll look back and think “OMG, I can’t believe how much easier this is now” or “That wasn’t sooo bad”? If you want video to be an easier part of your day and work-life routine then you need to explore strategies and put them to action by pressing record!
Here are my top tips to help you work with your nerves, minimise inertia and essentially, get over yourself and get on with the task at hand!
1. Camera Shy!
Practice in private. Do your video practice at home or book a meeting room at work. You don’t have to upload or publish your practice videos, retake with abandon until you’ve nailed the teleprompter and where to direct your gaze so you don’t look like a zombie.
You can review your takes as you go, in the editing stage or under ‘projects’ in the VideoMyJob app. When you practice, use the teleprompter settings and do multiple takes to get used to presenting and seeing yourself on camera. Give yourself time and don’t rush.
2. Buddy up
Learn with a friend or a colleague you trust—it'll help take the pressure off and you'll have someone to support and guide you. Two person videos can be a great way to get over your nerves. Putting your attention on your video guest, can help you take the attention off yourself. Review your videos together and remember it’s ok to laugh along the way and to make mistakes!
Shared learning experiences are a great way for colleagues to teach each other what they know, offer advice and overcome obstacles (like nerves) together. Courage is contagious!
3. Have a sense of humour and smile
The aim is not to ‘get it right’. It’s not a test. Bloopers do happen and will continue to happen! Embrace them - they’re funny! This is part of the journey. This is only your first week at the gym, so it’s going to feel a bit awkward. You might be really unfit so it’s going to take time and practice to improve!
Smiling is free and it takes less than a second to make your face do that smiling shapey thing. It can help you to zoom out (your perspective lens that is). Remember, your video has a purpose, so breathe, wriggle your toes, get comfortable and let that smile wash over you and help you to relax.
Fun Fact—when you force yourself to smile, its very hard to not then actually (and genuinely) smile so… try it, I dare you! As corny as it sounds, this may be the only strategy you need to help combat your inertia.
4. Keep your audience and your video’s purpose front of mind
The videos you create are often for people you haven’t even met yet, they don’t care about your nerves or your camera fears. They simply want to know what your message is, if it relevant to them (or someone in their network) and essentially ‘what’s in it for me’?
It’s so normal to have nerves because we care and caring is a great quality!! We just don’t want it to prevent us from starting because there are so many candidates out there whose day you are going to make with your video messages!
So, keeping your audience front of mind and walking a mile in their shoes (what would you want to know in a video job ad?), help you to focus less on you and more on your audience.
5. Imagine your phone is a human that you like
Sometimes when you see yourself on screen, your inner critic can get a little loud. You might get distracted by what your hair is doing, with your wrinkles and facial tics or by activity in the background.
When you substitute your phone for a person (i.e. in your imagination!) and pretend you are talking to a person that you like, instead of just talking to your smartphone, you can start to engage in a more relaxed and authentic way.
When you really activate your imagination, your focus moves to someone/something external and your nerves dissipate because you are no longer under the spotlight of your sensitive, self-conscious, “gotta get this perfect” self.
6. You’re so vain...you probably think this blog is about you!
Last but definitely not least (I could write a whole book about this) some of us are going to have to look vanity straight in the eye! You’re going to stare right down the barrel of your phone screen and work out a strategic way to move past your own vanity.
I completely get it, your videos may be public and shared widely, it’s natural to want to look and sound your best! Your videos have a purpose; engaging a new client, recruiting a role faster, welcoming a new team member. You must embrace (or at the very least, accept) who you are, understand the value you offer and be ok that your video skills today are a work in progress. That’s life! Learning is never finished and you’ll never be perfect.
Be aware that your perception is going to be different to others and that it is difficult to be objective. Your toughest critic is often you! Be open to accepting the encouragement and compliments of your peers and your network on LinkedIn as they start to see your videos appear. For some of us, getting on video does take courage and it’s okay to acknowledge the hurdles you’ve overcome.
Remember to break things down, step by step so you can hit your learning milestones and avoid giving up easily. Take pleasure in being a ‘beginner’! Beginners aren’t expected to know everything, so bring your video expectations down a notch (or 5) in those early weeks!
It’s your job to implement strategies that help you to stick to your practice and create videos. So get out of the way of yourself and remember this isn’t about you—it’s about your audience and kicking inertia in the A$$! Do the heavy lifting early on and a couple of weeks from now, you'll see the improvements. In time, your video muscles will remember what you’ve taught them, it’ll hurt less, it’ll feel more natural and heck, you might even feel proud of yourself!