It’s maddening: you place me in front of a complete stranger and, as long as it’s just us, I can talk for England about pretty much any topic I have some kind of grasp on.
But take that same topic, that I feel confident in my expertise, and put me in front of a CAMERA?
I become a closed clam.
Not a happy one at that.
So what is it about the camera?
I like to think of that episode of Friends, when Chandler has his ‘fake smile.’
Anyway, despite being a camera-shy introvert (or may be because of it) I was determined, at the start of this year to overcome my fears… and start LIVE STREAMING.
So why live streaming? Surely a regular video where I can cut and chop and edit the heck out of my awkward moments, would have been a smarter choice?
Yes. But that’s not what interested me. I personally think that live streaming is going to stick around for some time — and whether it’s Periscope, YouTube Live or Facebook Live — if you want to reach more people, then it’s worth diving in.
Ok, so onto my tried-and-true tips for live streaming (even if you’re a camera shy introvert):
1.Talk to yourself
You might already know I do this every morning as part of my confidence-boosting morning routine, but I actually made it a habit when working on my camera shyness.
Particularly when live streaming, we’re usually looking at ourselves when talking into the camera. That in itself can be seriously distracting and off-putting if you’re not used to it.
It was for me anyway. I would grow even MORE self-conscious just by looking at some stray eyebrow hairs or the way my mouth moves.
Getting used to watching ourselves can be just as painful as getting used to the sound of our own voice — and both become easier (I promise) with practise.
So, make it a habit — before even getting on camera — to have a chat with yourself in the mirror. Time yourself, and try to extend it by 10–15 seconds a day until you can talk, relatively painlessly for at least 5 minutes on the trot.
2. Observe others
Assuming you’re already watching live streams, pick 3–4 of your favourite broadcasters to tune into regularly.
Make notes: what are they doing that appeals to you? What about them makes you feel comfortable, at ease when you watch them?
Now I am NOT suggesting you copy them directly — but I do recommend this in order to learn what appeals to you, and what qualities you want to have when on camera.
It’s also a great way to learn the ‘etiquette‘ on your chosen live streaming platform.
For example, a good practise for Periscope might be to introduce yourself to your viewers as many watching won’t know who you are: they might have found you whilst browsing the live feeds.
But your Facebook Live audience are more likely to already like your page — that’s why they can see you. You also have less attention time on Facebook compared to Periscope, generally.
What does this have to do with camera shyness? Well, would you agree: the more you know about what you’re going into, the more comfortable you feel about it?
I know when I’m scared of something, I learn. I learn how it’s done whether it’s by reading about it, watching others, asking experts questions… Knowledge may be power, but it’s also confidence.
There’s also another bonus that comes from watching live streams: when you watch live, you can get involved.
When you start showing up and supporting the broadcaster: answering their questions, adding comments, sharing the broadcast with your followers — you feel more engaged, almost like being in the front row at the theatre or a comedy gig.
It takes a bit more balls, if I’m honest, because you’re not just watching: you’re being watched by the performer.
Practising this is another way of getting more comfortable with being ‘on show.’
3. Practise in advance
This was a total game-changer for me.
About a week before I ever got on Periscope, I started to make faux-scopes on my phone. Pretending I was live, recording my self, rehearsing my script* felt surprisingly nerve-inducing even though I wasn’t going live.
But it meant I could watch myself back, and pick up on any ‘umms’ or ‘errs’ that I’m inclined to pepper my speech with.
Doing this for a week definitely gave me the balls to finally go live: plus, it had become a habit, so I was far more inclined to get on Periscope daily (which is what I was shooting for at the time — if you’re using another platform like Facebook, you might adjust this to 1–2x a week.)
Now, when I’m feeling a little shaky about a particular topic, I run through the whole thing in advance on my phone, and iron out anything I might have tripped up on otherwise. It’s amazing the difference it makes.
4. Make a script
*Now I don’t recommend making a hard-and-fast script that you reel off like you’re in a school play.
I mean have a rough outline of topics, so you know how your video is going to flow.
For example, a typical script for me on Periscope:
- Say hi, acknowledge replay viewers, introduce myself
- Ask for shares/hearts and outline topic for the video
- Go into point 1
- Give examples, ask a question
- Go into point 2
… repeat until end of topic
- Close with a final ask
Doing this makes sure I don’t get super-distracted and go off-topic if I’m getting questions from viewers, or random comments from Russian sexbots.
I keep it nearby in a note on my desk, or wherever my phone is set up.
5. Announce it
Now, I don’t want to give the typical ‘just hit record!’ advice, because honestly: I know it isn’t that easy.
But if you have followed the tips 1–4 you might be feeling ready to go for it… you just need one extra shove onto the stage.
I’m not very forceful myself, so have very little ‘shove’ in me when I try to do this for myself.
That’s when I recruit others.
You do this by announcing to your friends, followers, email subscribers, everyone and aaaanyone who will hold you accountable for hitting record, and live streaming.
Set your date, time and ANNOUNCE IT.
One thing I’ve been doing is having a mini-series each week: I pick a ‘theme’ or topic for the week, and each day I give some advice or ideas around that topic.
Just by naming my broadcasts as though they are part of a series, helps me keep on track and go live daily. If I miss an ‘episode’ I feel terrible… so I don’t.
Appeal to your OCD nature, your upholder nature, whatever it is that will make you DO THE THING and go live.