How to Act Natural on Camera: 7 Pro Tips

Stepping in front of the camera is a daunting experience, to say the least. The bright lights, the silent anticipation of the crew, and that quiet little voice inside that questions, “Am I doing this right? Do I look silly? What do I do with my hands?!” 

Being on camera is an intimate experience, and it’s you, raw and unfiltered, sharing a piece of yourself with the world. Yet, a certain magic unfolds when you can harness those nerves and channel them into genuine authenticity on screen. The world needs you, your message, and your energy. 

Our team at Rock Creek Productions has helped many first-timers, and folks who consider themselves camera-shy, perform well on camera. It just takes a little confidence and direction. In this blog post, we’ll share strategies that we’ve seen help people embrace the spotlight, act naturally, and connect with their audience meaningfully.

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare

90% of your performance on camera will depend on your preparation. As you practice your script, record yourself and watch yourself – where are you fumbling? Where are you slowing down? Do you have a tic like “uh” or “um” that you say too much? Take notes and circle the parts of the script where you run into trouble. Once you’re confident enough, maybe bring in a loved one or a close friend to provide you with constructive feedback and encouragement.

2. Focus your attention on the lens 

When you get on set, get your bearings  – there will be a lot of equipment. Find the camera and get comfortable with it. While speaking, focus your attention on the lens and smile. If you’re having trouble with looking at the lens, study the camera itself. Pay attention to its details, its shape, and its size. It will distract you from the awkwardness of speaking to a faceless object.

There is a situation where this rule doesn’t apply, though – and that’s when you’re doing an interview, where eye contact is not desired. In this scenario, you’re meant to have a conversation with the interviewer directly, instead of an imaginary person. In this case, just be yourself! Imagine the camera isn’t there.

3. Pay attention to your breath

Breathing is an underrated aspect of your on-camera delivery. Many people tend to breathe very heavily when they’re anxious (as they tend to be on camera) and the microphones and boom mikes easily pick this up. Practice some deep diaphragmatic breathing techniques before it’s your turn to speak to slow down your breathing. This will help you ground yourself, dispel nervous energy, and ensure a steady voice. Remember, speaking on camera should be reminiscent of a chat with a close friend – relaxed and composed.

4. Be mindful of your posture

Posture, while often overlooked, plays a pivotal role in how your message is received. Standing or sitting up straight doesn’t just portray confidence and authority, it also makes you feel like the expert you are. It also ensures that the audience focuses on your words rather than any distractions a poor posture might introduce. It’s a delicate balance to strike—appearing relaxed yet attentive, ensuring you neither slouch nor come off as too rigid.

5. Show your hands

Hand gestures can be a tricky aspect of on-camera presence, but they are essential. Science of People analyzed thousands of hours of TED Talks and found one striking pattern: The most viral TED Talkers spoke with their words AND their hands. If you ever find yourself unsure of what to do with your hands during a shoot, consider holding a prop. Props can guide your gestures naturally, ensuring you avoid potentially closed-off postures like crossed arms, which can make you appear unapproachable or defensive. And remember not to touch your face. Constantly touching your face can be a distraction to viewers, pulling their focus away from your message. Habitual face-touching can also be perceived as a sign of nervousness, uncertainty, or discomfort.

6. Don’t rush your words 

Lastly, the pace at which you convey your message is crucial. Rushing through your words can lead to confusion and might cause viewers to miss key points. Instead, aim to speak at a steady, natural pace. As we mentioned above, think of your on-camera speech as a casual conversation with a friend over the phone. This approach ensures clarity and comprehension and makes the content engaging and easy to digest.

7. Don’t chase perfection 

Authenticity resonates far more than perfection. Embracing the imperfect nature of being human can, paradoxically, “perfect” one’s on-camera demeanor and make you more appealing to an audience that is saturated with overly polished presentations.  Relax and be confident. Your audience will sense your genuineness and appreciate it. Remember, if you falter, there’s always another take, and the Rock Creek Productions team is always there to cheer you on. 

Take Your On-Camera Journey with Rock Creek Productions

Whether you’re a nonprofit building a video marketing strategy, or a tech company about to launch, Rock Creek Productions is here to help you spread your message. Our team of experts comes with decades of experience working with clients like National Geographic and Habitat for Humanity. We’ve filmed many people who had never been in front of a camera before making a video with us, including children, so we know how to get the best out of our stars! 

Have a video you want to make? Reach out to us today!

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