How to Look Professional On Camera

Everyone is producing video nowadays. If you want to stand out and get views, you’ve got to look good on camera. Fancy editing tricks, spammy social media, and blackhat SEO marketing might give you a slight advantage in the video-centric internet space, but most viewers who “click off” a video will do so within the first 15 seconds. If you want to have success with online video, then you need to know the steps to look professional on camera. In this blog, I’ll outline 9 steps to help you look professional on video.

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Preparing for the Shoot

1. Have a Shooting Plan

Confidence in your content comes across clearly on camera.You need to have a clearly written down shooting plan to organize your shooting objectives for that session.

  • Bullet pointing the order of your points is a great start. Oftentimes with business owners we see the “I know my content so well I don’t need to write it down” syndrome. However, when the lights go on and the camera starts recording, you’ll find that your memory doesn’t work so well.
  • A shooting plan is a shot list (or checklist) of what you want to accomplish in your video. More broadly, a shooting plan also outlines what videos, photos, and other media you want to capture during your video shoot.

2. Diet

Coffee belly and gurble guts are embarrassing and can negatively affect your confidence in front of the camera. Plus–if it’s loud enough, it may even pick up on the audio.

  • Limit your coffee intake and avoid sugary creamers the day of your shoot. A jittery mouth full of sugar generates a lot of gummy saliva (think about eating Skittles when you were a kid). Saliva gathers in your throat and the corners of mouth causing massive spittle and an irregular speaking rhythm. Drink tea that day if you need a little caffeine, otherwise water.
  • Have snacky carbs and fruit on hand. Shooting for a full or half day takes a lot of energy and it’s important to recharge. I like to pack granola bars, fig bars, and bananas to a video shoot.

3. What To Wear On Camera

People who look good on camera often stand out from their background. Wear clothes you feel comfortable in, but still match your profession. This will vary depending on your business and your location, but here are some things to consider…

  • Office space or walls – when shooting in an office, we often see browns, taupe, and blank walls. Wear brighter colors to liven up the scene and definitely DO NOT wear colors that match the office space walls – even if you love the outfit. Also try to not to clash with the background colors if there is some color in there.
  • Outdoors – Shooting outside can cause a variety of issues for audio, lighting, and distractions. I’ve actually had people walk right through my set!! If you find yourself shooting video outside you’ll want to be aware of brightness, darkness, and busy streets. Make sure to wear clothes that CONTRAST the environment. A busy shirt against a busy street with trees will just look like noise.
  • Stripes – Avoid stripes if you can. Stripes cause spatial aliasing, an effect that causes different signals to become indistinguishable (or aliases of one another) when sampled. You might be ok if you wear a jacket or a vest over it, but in general, go light or nix the stripes.
  • Green— DO NOT wear green if you are using a green screen. This may seem obvious, but if you wear green shirt against a green screen, your upper body will disappear along with the green screen.

4. Voice Warmups

Warm up your voice and lips with vowel exercises. Really use your lips, teeth, and tongue to pronounce all the vowels. This might seem silly at first but shooting videos without lip warm-ups is like trying to crane kick a Kobra Kai without stretching.

  • Recite Tongue Twisters to get your brain and mind working together in harmony. The more warmed up you are before beginning to shoot video means the less stumbles and slurring when you’re on video.

Presenting Yourself on Camera

1. Over Smiling

It’s important to smile the entire time you’re on camera. It might feel unnatural, but you have to make a conscious effort, because today’s video quality is High Def and in some cases 4K. That means that even a non-smile looks like a frown. If you watch TV commercials and interviews you’ll notice that the on-screen talent always has a pleasant look on their face. You need to look amiable to appeal to the widest base of clients.

2. Hands

Knowing where to place your hands is so important I prep all my clients to have a “home – base.” This is a natural resting place for your hands. Whether you’re fine with your hands or your hands feel like rocks on camera, a home-base will solve your problem.

  • A great home base is above the waistline, with all fingers touching like a spider on a mirror. It’s normal, authoritative, and easy. For some, home-base might be hands clasped behind the back or on the waist. This is fine as long as it looks natural.
  • Keep your hands away from the groin area and never rest your hands below the belt line. You want people focused on your eyes; the above can be distracting.

3. Where to Look

To look good on camera, you should always look at the camera when you’re speaking (unless you’re doing an interview). Memorization is tough, so instead, shoot video in bursts. This is the process of shooting small chunks together in small bursts, looking away to remember your lines, bursting again, and so on. You can edit it all together seamlessly afterwards. With bursting you can look at notes and then back to the camera again and your audience will never know. The key to bursting is to be very punctuated in your movements, facial expressions, or gestures– leaning in for this line, gesturing with your hand in another line, etc.

4. Bloopers

When you or your client messes up, restart from the beginning of the sentence or the thought. Do it quickly – don’t dwell on or laugh about mess ups for one-second longer than you need to or they will steal your whole day.

Mentally, mess-ups can steal your mind too. The more you mess up at a certain word – the more YOU WILL mess up at that word. This has to do with our neural pathways and the way we remember things. Because of this, you need to push through the SCRIPT, even when you mess up. Remember, you can edit the blooper out. Just try again asap.

Try saying this to your clients –

“Even when you mess up I want you to finish the whole sentence. Once you get through the sentence, you’ll restart.”

This way, you’re reinforcing the whole sentence and you’re more likely to get through it faster.

5. Consistent Video Formatting

Imagine watching a sitcom where every week the theme song changed, the actors changed, and the set was different. It probably wouldn’t last too long and the same is true of your videos. So figure out what you want to use for each of these and keep them consistent across your videos.

  • Consistency creates trust with your audience, so make your videos similar to each other. Establish a rhythm for your show that makes shooting video systematic. Your audience will grow faster and you’ll be able to shoot videos faster.
  • Think of your format like a skeleton or a checklist for writing content. Follow the same basic check list every time. You’ll notice all my videos follow a format where I ask for subscribers after the first joke.

Want to print out a PDF checklist of these points? Get the whole checklist on my website and don’t forget to check out the where business owners and creators learn how to professionally launch a YouTube channel that works!

Get the “How to look good” checklist here!

Owen Hemsath

Owen Video is a YouTube Marketing Consultant, video creator, and host of the Business of Video Podcast. He has made over 1,000 videos for the web and has a YouTube channel with more than 1 million minutes of watch time. Having recently defeated cancer in the same year he doubled his business, Owen is uniquely qualified to show you the pathway for making money with online video no matter what stage of business you’re in. Join him on social media below and start making an impact with your online video. Website: Podcast: Facebook: YouTube: LinkedIn: Twitter: TechSmith is thrilled to work with talented guest bloggers to bring valuable and interesting content to readers. Have a topic suggestion? Tweet us @TechSmith!

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