How To Get Over Camera Shyness

Start Improving Your Online Videos With These 5 Daily Exercises

Is the camera lens an intimidating beast you struggle to be yourself in front of?

Does the thought of being judged by public onlookers or your online viewership paralyze you from even setting up your camera?

Is that camera anxiety manifesting itself as an unnatural version of yourself as soon as you press record?

If so, this camera shyness is keeping you from expressing your unique voice to the fast growing online space of YouTube and social media. Your views are a valuable contribution to moving the zeitgeist in the right direction, but you’ll never have a voice if you can’t overcome the fear of sharing your digital self.

I still suffer from these red light challenges myself, but through my own experimentation, I’ve developed a set of 5 exercises to help dissolve camera anxiety so I can post my perspectives to those who care to listen:

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1. Start Your Own Daily "Captain's Log"

I used to watch Star Trek when I was a kid and the episodes always began with “Captain’s Log, Stardate blah blah blah.” The commanding officer recorded a personal video entry to capture the main points and thoughts of the day, much like a written journal.

Thanks to hot earl grey tea guzzlin’ Captain Picard, I got the idea to start my own “Captain’s (Video) Log” to make talking to the camera a low-pressure, daily practice.

Just rambling on about my day for 10-minutes helped me forget about the camera, learn to be unfiltered when speaking, and find a natural rhythm.

Also, I soon realised that reviewing these videos gave me personal feedback on how to improve my onscreen ambiance. I noticed that I tended to look at the screen and not the lens, which was a pretty obvious blunder, even for a novice filmmaker like me.

Tip: Look at the lens and not the video screen when talking to the camera.

Remember, the great thing about any video you create is that you don’t have to post any of it, but you may discover that much of it is actually worth keeping!

2. Have A Close Friend Sit Opposite The Camera To You

One of the best ways to get yourself into a natural, conversational flow in front of the camera is to either pretend you’re speaking to your best friend or actually have a close friend sit on the other side of the camera and watch you record.

If you run out of things to say, they can start lobbing questions at you, interview style!

This is a great method to cultivate that intimate feel veteran video content creators seem to give off naturally with their large audiences.

Tip: Talk to the camera like you’re only talking to one viewer...mono-a-mono (person-to-person). This helps build a strong relationship with your audience.

3. Become A Social Freedom Fighter

If you want to shoot video of yourself in public (like most vloggers seem to do with ease), you must become comfortable with social discomfort.

Don’t get me wrong, most socially calibrated people struggle with sticking their necks out in public...

...and nothing says “LOOK AT ME!” more than holding up an obnoxiously large camera lens to your face.

Your self-conscience mind needs to learn that…

Tip: NOBODY IS ACTUALLY WATCHING YOU, THEY’RE ONLY PAYING ATTENTION TO THEMSELVES.

Doing social freedom drills will free you from the socially crippling Spotlight Effect.

Here’s some easy drills to help give yourself the permission to be a weirdo in public:

  • In a safe space, where you won’t be trampled or run over by a car, lay down in the middle of a busy spot for at least 30 seconds (like a coffee shop line, a supermarket aisle or public square.
  • Walk up to someone and say: “I know this sounds weird, but, uughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…” and see how long they hang around before walking away. Sounds crazy, but it’s actually pretty fun!
  • Ask for a 10% discount on your next latte, just because you want one.
  • Do a crazy dance at a crowded bus-stop.

You get the picture...

Performing a few benign social insurrections will help make filming yourself in public like a stroll through the park.

4. Practice With Topics You're Passionate About

The best way for your personality to emerge and for your natural, expressive self to surface is to record yourself talking about the things that really light your fire!

If you have strong feelings about any topic (that you can talk about in detail), you’ll soon forget you’re in front of the camera and become engrossed in explaining your unique perspective...just like you would tell a close friend.

Tip: Make a list of all your passions or knowledgeable subjects and then make time each day to ramble on for 10 minutes about one of them.

5. Stop Aiming For Perfection And Just Hit Record

People resonate with authenticity. The reason that Vlogs, Blogs and Podcasts have become sooooo popular today is because they feel real, unpolished and raw.

People have been assaulted by filtered media their entire lives and are yearning for something unique, genuine and authentic.

Tip: YOUR voice, YOUR perspectives, YOUR eccentricities and YOUR imperfections will build an audience that looks forward to watching YOUR videos.

You’re building a trusting relationship with your audience and the best way to do that is to take action with the tools and skills you have now, analyze the feedback received from viewers, and then apply the lessons you learn along the way.

Tip: Don’t worry about the haters. The trolls don’t tend to arrive at your social media doorstep until you start making a dent anyways so don’t let a fear of criticism keep you from getting started.

If you’re waiting for perfection before you post, you’ll never get valuable feedback, you’ll never learn and apply important lessons, and most importantly, you’ll never cultivate your creative voice.

It’s A Work In Progress

If you’re like me, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in making online videos is taming the deep fear of judgement and uneasiness that seems to go along with recording yourself on camera.

With the 5 exercises described above, I hope you can cage those insecurities so you can continuously learn, improve and one day give off the smooth aura of an online video veteran!

Please let me know if these exercises helped you get in front of the camera or, if you’re already seasoned at making videos, please share your own video content exercises with me in the comments below!

P.S. If you’re interested in checking out some of my early videos (still a work in progress), you can watch my Euro Vlog travel series from one of my previous blog posts or my YouTube channel here.

P.P.S. Please subscribe to my email list so you can follow along to my 30-day, Copy Grinder Challenge!

About the Author Matt

Matt's a geologist turned online marketer and digital minimalist. He's a Modern Manimal on a mission to cultivate a high-tech, hunter-gatherer lifestyle within our exceedingly domesticated world. When away from his tech, you can find him studying complex human movement through random play or practices like Aikido, AcroYoga and Barefoot Running.

  • Mark says:

    Matt, these are great tips for overcoming camera shyness and perfection paralysis! I plan on practicing all of these techniques in the next few months. Would you mind sharing with me the name of the camera grip you used in this post’s featured image? (If you know the name of it…) I am on the hunt for a similar product. Many thanks for the great information you share on this blog!

    • Matt Totten says:

      Thanks Mark!

      The camera grip is one of the small Joby GorillaPods. I actually don’t recommend them since they strip and break VERY easily (I already went through 2 of them). I think it’s better to spend a little more and invest in the large version of the Joby GorillaPod instead…it’s a much better rig.

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