How to Overcome Fear and Put Yourself Out There On Camera

Scared of putting yourself out there on camera?

I get it. Like, really get it. Because I’ve done it. 

I’m not going to sugarcoat this for you. I was terrified to do my Why story video. Even though I make a living telling people to do it, I didn’t want to.

But there was this pesky little problem. I fully believe what we preach. Because I’ve seen it work. Video makes personal connections. It helps people get to know you, feel more comfortable with you, and it accelerates relationship building. So, it was time for me to practice it.

Step 1: Scripting the Story

I scripted a first draft, got feedback from someone I really trusted, revised it, and then did that process all over again. A few times.

When I felt I had something that reflected who I am, would be comfortable for me to deliver, and most of all, would connect with the people I was trying to connect with, I stopped messing with it.

Could it have been written differently? Sure. Could I have kept revising it? Probably forever. Would that have helped me get it done and out into the world where it could start making an impact?

Nope.

It doesn’t need to be everything you ever wanted someone to know about you. It just needs to be a great start.

I felt more comfortable with this step than other parts of the process because I’ve been a writer and storyteller my whole life, professionally and personally. There’s a nuance to script writing, grabbing attention and keeping it, keeping it short while hitting the right notes, and making it relatable to your audience.

If that’s not in your wheelhouse, get help from a professional. 

You wouldn’t suggest someone do their own financial plan if they aren’t a financial planner.

Step 2: Shooting Your Story

Once the script was ready, I rolled from mild apprehension right into abject terror. It all feels a little abstract until you step in front of the camera with your hair done, a nice top on, and the light shining in your face.

Luckily, I had a leg up here. I’ve been around on-camera talent my entire career. I spent nearly 20 years as a TV news producer, which means I spent many hours in a control room talking quietly into the earpiece of a news anchor, feeding them cues and breaking news information. And I got the chance to observe their style night after night. 

As many times as people may tell you to “just be yourself” on camera, it’s more of a performance. In real life you don’t read from a teleprompter, position your body just so, and try to remember to smile through every line. 

This is where performance coaching is invaluable. If you haven’t done it before, get help from a professional

Actors don’t step on stage on opening night without having spent months rehearsing and being coached by the director.

Step 3: Using Your Video

After scripting and shooting the story was handed over to our expert editors. And then came the cold, hard realization: “I actually have to watch this now.”

If I thought the prior steps were challenging, I had no idea how hard it would hit me when I saw my face on camera. 

I want to break it to you, it will probably never be a comfortable feeling, and that’s just science

The Mere Exposure Effect proves what is already a pretty easy-to-understand principle, that we are more comfortable with things that we are already familiar with. “But I’m familiar with how I look because I’ve been looking at myself my whole life,” you say? Well, not really. You’ve been looking at a mirror image of yourself. And I hate to burst your bubble, but no one’s face is perfectly symmetrical. Nope, not even Brad Pitt’s. So the version of your face you’ll see on video will be ever so slightly different. Can you say… ‘awkward?!’

You’re also not used to hearing how your own voice really sounds. Others are hearing your voice through air conduction, from your mouth to their ears. But you’re hearing it through air conduction plus bone conduction, from your own mouth to your own ears and also from inside your own head. Essentially you’re getting it from the outside in and the inside out.

Add all that up, and it’s what my teenagers would call ‘cringe.’

The cringe of watching my own video practically had me hyperventilating in the fetal position.

So at this point, I made a decision to be like Elsa and let it go. (Is that overused? Oh well. Whatever helps you through it, embrace it. If that’s a Disney song, I will not judge you.)

Here are 2 realizations that helped me: 1. I show up every day, on Zoom calls and in in-person conversations, the same way I did in the video. The difference is that I was seeing it from the other side for once. And 2. I knew that video was more valuable being used than hidden away.

Would you decline a face-to-face meeting with a prospect because you were afraid of how you would look or sound? No! Your video is just another extension of face-to-face time with that person. 

And you just can’t get the same feeling from text. Here’s one more piece of science: visual cues generate more reaction and retention. Our brains process video 60,000 times faster than text. Wow!

If you’re not going to turn down a meeting with a prospect or client, then don’t turn down sending them your video.

I’ve accepted it and you can too. 

To prove it, here’s my video. Go ahead, watch it. I know you won’t judge it nearly as harshly as I already have, which is one more piece of comfort.

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