How to be calm and influential on camera during an interview


As video continues to trend, you’ll find yourself in front of a camera more often than not.

In order to give your best performance, you have to be calm and act natural. This is tough. And like anything else, it takes practice.

In this post, I put together 5 tips that will significantly improve your performance. As a result you’ll become more influential in front of a camera and gain more traction with your videos.

Here's a video that covers most of the information in this post (you'll find more detail and links in the written post):

Giddy up...

Tip#1 Calm the nerves.

We all get nervous, it’s natural. This is a performance after all.

I’ve found these things to be helpful:

-Commit to a Superman pose for 20 seconds immediately before the interview. This will open your body language and build your confidence. There’s a reason why Superman did that.
-Play with something in your hands. I prefer a stress relieving foam football but anything will work. The idea is to focus on something else than your performance.
-Take 3 deep breaths and don’t worry about anyone else in the room. Close your eyes and get in a meditative state for a few seconds. People will wait, they want you to perform at your best.
-Focus externally rather than internally. Instead of thinking “I don’t want to screw this up”, think “I really want to help my customers understand how our product works”. The more you can think about others, the better your performance.

Tip#2 Don’t memorize, unless…

Have you tried to memorize a speech before? Well then you know; it’s not easy to speak naturally if you haven’t practiced a lot. How much? To the point of internalizing the speech.

I’ve made this mistake and my performance suffered, I was like a robot!

Being on camera is like giving a speech, but easier. The editing will take care of the transitions for you. Which means you can look at your notes for key bullet points.

You’ll still have to practice your responses. But practice using bullet points, not memorization.

Tip#3 Play the part.

You are on film to show your audience an authentic performance that gets them engaged. Yes, this is not easy.

Hopefully the interviewer is skilled at getting this performance out of you, but don’t depend on it. Act like you’ve never heard the questions before and pretend the interviewer just met you.

If you’re looking at the camera (addressing the audience directly rather than looking at interviewer), it’s important to look at the middle of the lens. This takes some practice, so before the shoot talk to your webcam or any camera to get comfortable with the process. Pretend the camera is someone specific: a customer, a passerby, a bartender.

Notice I mentioned “pretend” twice. That’s the key. You are an actor/actress now, it’s time to play the part.

Tip#4 Editing is Magic.

Films get MADE in the editing.

The editor will take bits and pieces of your interview to make the film. So it’s not as important to transition between thoughts. Take a pause, a deep breath, and then start with your next thought.

If you need to redo, it’s easy to pick up where you left off. Make sure to look at the interviewer, pause for a moment, then respond.

Tip#5 Use your hands.

Research has shown, that the TED talks that have the most hand gestures have the most views. It establishes trust with the audience, makes your performance more powerful, and makes you more attractive when you have open body language.

Vanessa Van Edwards is the master of body language, here are a few good reads:

Psychology of Attraction

5 Secrets of a successful TED talk

So use your hands, often.

Remember that not everyone will hear what you’re saying...

Want them to unmute the video player? Get them engaged through your body language.

Let’s wrap it up...

Here are the main points:

-Stay calm.
-Don’t memorize
-Pretend you’re in a different setting (aka not on camera).
-Pause and breath.
-Use your hands.

Being on camera is like any performance; the more you practice, the better you’ll perform. So implement a few of these tips in your next video and keep creating content that matters.

I want to hear from you, what routine do you use to calm the nerves? Tell us about it in the comments below.


Lance Miller

Level Set Films, San Francisco Bay Area

Lance Miller is a filmmaker and owner of Level Set Films, a video production company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He also teaches what he's learned about business on his site Freedom Everything.