One of the things I hear from people is that they are uncomfortable speaking in front of a camera. Many of these people are comfortable if they are having a conversation with a person and even giving a public speech. But they tend to freeze up or become stiff when they are speaking in front of a camera. They don't look the same if you ever see these people speaking to you about a topic and then watch their video. Most of them you never will since they will not record videos. It is hard to find this out. The reason I know this is because I mentor Coursera's "Introduction to Public Speaking" course and I see people bringing this up when they record their introductory videos.
Speaking in front of a camera is becoming very important for success since cameras are everywhere, and videos are one of the best ways to get your message across quickly and with impact. Also, videos are an excellent way to gain exposure and be viewed as a thought leader. Today you need a social media trail if you want people to trust you and do business with you. You can't hide your way to success today.
But speaking in front of a camera is hard since it is just you and the camera. The camera can't give you any feedback on how you are coming across. You can't feed off any energy coming from a camera. You have to provide all the energy and hope it resonates when the video is viewed by others either live or recording.
What to do?
I have some tips that may help you become more comfortable in speaking to a camera. You have to do a good job with your recording since the people watching it have to work hard trying to make sense of what you are saying. Your job should be to make it easier for them to follow your message. You have to act like they audience is there in the room.
This way you can pretend that there is someone listening to your speech. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has been using an empty chair during business meetings to represent a customer, so everyone in the meeting knows who they are serving. Similarly, an empty chair can represent an audience member you are serving in your speech.
2) Have a conversation by asking questions
You should do this when there is an audience, but it is something you must do when you are speaking in front of a camera. You have to guide your audience when you are speaking. If you are not guiding your audience, then you are getting them lost. The speaker who does this well is Bill Clinton. I did a speech analysis of Bill Clinton's 2012 DNC speech where he has a conversation with a large audience. You want to focus on how he guides the audience in his speech. You can learn a lot from watching his entire speech.
If you have someone who is willing to work with you, then have the person in the room or over the phone state the question. After hearing the question, take a brief pause (so you can edit it in the video) and repeat the question and answer it. By stitching together few questions, you will come across like you are having a conversation. You want to practice this till you can naturally come up with the question on your own.
3) Meditate so you can focus on the camera
Speaking in front of a camera is harder for some than speaking in front of an audience since you have to look right into the aperture. You can't look away from the camera since it can be distracting to the viewers. By doing meditating exercise, you can learn to focus on the camera.
You have to act when you are in front of a camera. Once the camera is rolling, you are acting whether you like it or not. If you are acting, you might as well be a good actor. What makes speaking more difficult than acting is that you can't take your eyes off the camera. Actors don't ever look at the camera; they act like the camera is not even there.
You have to be well prepared before you get in front of a camera, so you look natural. The video is a cool medium in a sense that the person watching have to watch it closely if you are teaching them something. It takes me a long time to do a good job with reviews.
The one thing you do control over is that if the video is not to your satisfaction, you can always re-record the video. Look, the camera does not lie. It will pick up everything you are doing. You have to practice this skills since videos are here to stay. The only choice you have is to become good at it. But you don't want to overdo it by making the video perfect. I suggest you err on quantity instead of quality since you don't know what others think. Until you get genuine feedback from people you trust, you are going to have to be your best judge of your videos. And what I have found is that you don't want to be too hard on yourself since others will not be as critical as you are.
Here are two videos that I made on this topic:
How to get comfortable in front of a camera - Part 1
How to get comfortable in front of a camera - Part 2