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In this article I’ll show you how to can improve your YouTube presentation skills.
In fact, I’m sharing 15 tips that have helped over 580 of my real-world clients and thousands of my online students. Enabling them to speak with confidence and clarity when previously they thought, “I can’t speak on camera“.
Almost all these tips will cost you nothing. But when you apply them, they will bring you actual results.
So, let’s get started.
The most common reason for people not making videos is that they are nervous about turning the camera on themselves. It’s a frequent problem. And it’s easy to convince yourself that you can’t speak on camera.
That’s why I have 15 strategies to calm your anxiety in front of the lens to improve your YouTube presentation skills. At the end of the article, I also have a video that features many of the video presentation tips I will be talking about.
In a Hurry? Click on any of the items in the following list to go directly to that tip.
- Be prepared and know your subject.
- Use a teleprompter.
- Keep things as normal and familiar as possible.
- Slow down. Don’t rush to try to get to the end quickly.
- Avoid strenuous exercise immediately before filming.
- Do one or two stretches and warm-up exercises to loosen up your shoulder and neck muscles.
- Don’t worry about being judged. Ignore haters and embrace your fans.
- Imagine that you are speaking to a friend who is behind the camera.
- Use the chocolate bar method of filming. Record one chunk at a time and you’ll soon finish it all.
- Practice and familiarize yourself with the script before recording.
- Don’t try to be a TV presenter, just be yourself.
- Make changes to the script to make it your own.
- Comfortable clothing will help make you feel less awkward.
- Get a friend to join you in front of the camera.
- Accept that you don’t need to be perfect.
1. Be prepared and know your subject
The first and the most important tip of all is to know your stuff.
If it is your area of expertise, you may not need to do as much preparation. But if the topic is less familiar to you, make sure you brush up on the subject so that you can speak confidently and not worry that you can’t speak on camera.
Whether you are an expert in the field or a relative novice, always prepare a bullet list of what you want to say.
It does not always have to be a written list; it could just be a mental note to yourself. But I prefer to work with a physical list placed close to the camera lens.
Often, I sellotape a sheet of paper to the bottom of my lens hood. If you have an assistant, you could even use cue cards.
The bullet list is a kind of security blanket, allowing you to calm your presentation nerves. You will know that you will cover all the necessary points and in the correct order.
The list assures you that the structure of the video is as you intended rather than in the order you remembered the points.
Knowing that you are on top of your subject matter and properly prepared will give you confidence in front of the camera.
A natural consequence of knowing your stuff is that you will be more likely to smile and appear relaxed. Both will go down well with your viewer.
If instead, you are unprepared and you know you are going to have to fill your video with fluff and repetition, subconsciously that will make you feel uncomfortable and nervous.
So, prepare, know your stuff, and give your viewer value with the quality of your content. Adopting that approach will help calm your nerves in front of the camera. This really will help you with your YouTube presentation skills
2. Use a teleprompter
A written script is a step up from a bullet list. It is a huge help if you find it difficult to speak unprompted or if you need to use precise technical words or phrases.
It can be stressful trying to remember your lines, but a teleprompter makes the process a lot easier.
You could go down the route of getting a professional teleprompter with a beam splitter, but it really isn’t necessary.
Provided you have at least 6.5ft (2m) between you and the camera, you can use a teleprompter app on an iPad.
Place the iPad next to or above the camera lens and at 6ft or more. At that distance, no one will notice you’re not looking directly into the lens.
Download a teleprompter app that is either voice-activated or has a remote control. This will ensure you will be less stressed.
With this kind of teleprompter, you won’t have to worry about keeping up or running out of words.
If you feel you can’t speak on camera, getting a teleprompter will go a long way to change your mind.
3. Keep things as normal as possible
Making videos may be a whole new world to you. But if you can keep things as normal as possible, you’ll find it a whole lot less stressful.
In other words, rather than stepping into an alien world of video production, try and bring video into your world.
Shoot your video in your office or lounge.
If possible, avoid lots of fancy lights that can be distracting and off-putting.
Choose clothing and makeup that you would normally wear. It will help normalize the situation.
Little things can make you feel a lot more comfortable. So, take time to incorporate them into your preparation for the shoot if you want to up your YouTube presentation skills.
4. Slow down
One huge giveaway that you’re nervous is speaking quickly, or at least quicker than normal.
Behind the break-neck pace is the thought that the quicker you go, the sooner you’ll be finished.
The faster you got, the more likely you will stumble over your own words.
So don’t do it.
Keeping the pace relaxed will make it easier for you to get the script right. Plus, your audience will also find it easier to follow what you’re saying.
So, before you start, close your eyes, and take a couple of deep breaths. Now open your eyes and look up into the lens of the camera. You’ll be more relaxed and can start speaking calmly and at a measured pace.
5. Don’t overexert yourself before filming
If you’re still worried that you can’t speak on camera, my fourth tip is not to overexert yourself just before filming.
Your pulse rate, respiration, and perspiration will be elevated after strenuous exercise. None of which will help you relax.
You’ll be conscious of heavy breathing, being flushed and perspiring and you won’t be able to appear calm in front of the camera.
If you are in that state take a few minutes to relax, cool down, and get yourself looking good.
Only then should you roll the camera.
6. Do a few warm-up exercises
Strenuous exercise is out of the question, but you can do some light warm-up exercises.
A few stretches will help you relax.
Rotate your shoulders and neck to loosen up.
Then try some breathing exercises. Close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly, concentrating on the rise and fall. Don’t try rapid breathing, you’re not trying to hyperventilate.
7. Don’t worry about being judged
You may be getting anxious because you think your viewers will judge you. I would like to say that they won’t, but they will.
The way you look, sound and dress will be noticed. It’s going to happen whatever you do, and there’s nothing you can do about it. So, if you can’t do anything to prevent it, don’t even worry about it. Just try and get over it.
So, if someone makes a negative comment, don’t get anxious.
You’re never going to please everyone.
Develop a thick skin and accept that some people will hate you. Then embrace the viewers who love you because they WILL want to hear from you.
You will never please everyone, so don’t try. If you do, try to please everyone you’ll become bland and boring. You’ll no longer be the remarkable voice that you are.
So, chill. Relax. Be yourself. Your fans will love you for it.
8. Imagine you’re speaking to a friend
I’ll admit it. When I first had to speak at a seminar it was a little bit daunting.
So, I can understand that the thought of speaking to a large video audience can be scary.
Instead of thinking that you’re talking to a huge video audience, imagine you’re speaking to an individual behind the camera.
Better still. Imagine the individual is a friend, and you’re explaining something.
That’s a much less stressful situation than imagining you are talking to a huge crowd. After all, you have conversations every day without getting stressed. So, you CAN do it in front of a camera.
The truth is that it’s easier than real-world conversations. If you make a mistake in front of the camera you can stop and start again.
9. Use the chocolate bar method of filming
The more complicated you make the video shoot the more worried you will become.
So keep it super simple.
For instance, don’t give yourself too much to remember, whether that be what you have to say or do.
This especially applies to your first few videos where you are just learning how to do the basics.
Your video is likely to be at least a minute or two long. That can seem like forever and intimidate you into not starting.
But what if your video was just 10sec long?
I bet you could manage to record something as short as 10sec.
Now, if you can do a 10sec video, you can do a minute, five-minute, or ten-minute video. Moreover, it wouldn’t be any more stressful than doing a short 10sec video.
I know. You’re thinking, how’s that possible
It’s quite simple and relies on the fact that viewers, unlike traditional video professionals, don’t care about jump cuts. That’s where you seem to shift position between lines.
So, break up your script into short 5 or 10sec sections, that’s about 12 – 25 words respectively. Then record your video one section at a time or one chunk at a time.
You’ll feel a lot less anxious knowing there are just one or two lines to record at a time. That removes the pressure of thinking you must get to the end of a long script and be word perfect.
Record your script as short paragraphs or even phrases.
I call it the Chocolate Bar method of filmmaking.
You bite off one chunk at a time and you’ll get it all finished in no time.
When you come to edit your footage just cut the sections together.
Sure, there will be small jumps in your position, but your audience won’t care. It’s your amazing content they want, not Hollywood production values.
Record in short chunks and relax. It’s just like eating chocolate.
10. Practice and familiarize yourself with the script
We worry if the future is uncertain but feel happy and relaxed if we know what’s coming next. It’s the same when you’re presenting your videos.
Because you’re unsure of what’s coming up that gets you anxious. The greater your anxiety the more likely you’ll make a mistake and convince yourself that you can’t present your YouTube video.
The obvious answer is to read your script in advance.
Don’t read it in your head, read it aloud. You’ll understand where you need to slow down, where to add emphasis and what you need to stress.
You’re not trying to learn your lines; you just need to know what to anticipate. Consequently, you will feel more relaxed and present the script, so it sounds more natural.
Having had a practice, you will feel much more confident when the camera starts to roll.
11. Just be yourself
You’re not a TV presenter, so don’t try and be a fake one.
Some of your audience may even know you and think it’s weird if you put on a completely different persona.
Pretending to be someone you are not takes acting skill. Unless you’re an actor make it as easy for yourself as possible.
Just be yourself.
You know how to do that, so you’ll find presenting is much easier and you’ll be less awkward in front of the camera.
12. Mark up the script and make it your own
Make the script your own, especially if someone else has written it for you.
This is a YouTube presentation skill that’s about reading someone else’s words making them your own.
Adjust the words and phrasing so it sounds natural to you.
Speaking in ‘your own voice’ will seem easier and be more comfortable while presenting to camera.
Don’t include words that you wouldn’t normally use. It won’t sound like you and you’ll feel awkward and uncomfortable speaking that way.
So, make slight changes to the script to keep your performance natural and real.
13. Comfortable clothing with make you feel less awkward
This is one of those YouTube presentation skills that’s about making sure you feel comfortable.
Choose clothing that you feel comfortable in. Clothing that makes you feel good and confident.
If you feel awkward wearing a jacket collar and tie, that will show through, and you’ll appear awkward on-screen.
So, wear what you feel comfortable in to help dispel your anxiety.
14. Get a friend to help boost your YouTube presentation skills
You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘there’s strength in numbers’. Well, it can apply to your performance in front of the camera.
If feeling nervous about filming is a problem, remember that a problem shared is a problem halved.
Invite a friend to join you in the video. Do the video with a co-presenter or even as an interview.
If you decide to work with a co-presenter, it’s easy to get out of situations when you feel yourself drying up. If you feel stuck for what to say next, hand over to your partner. Do it in a natural way rather than just stopping though
Just like a script or cue cards are a safety net for you, having a co-presenter can work in the same way. If necessary, they
With a co-presenter, you don’t have to work to a fixed script.
The video could be recorded as a kind of conversation between the two of you. Each of you contributing your opinions on the topic you’re covering.
Or you could get your friend to interview you. Whether it’s a conversation or interview it will be easy to talk or answer questions because you know your subject.
Another advantage of working with someone else is that if either of you starts to ramble, the other is there to bring the conversation back to the topic of the piece and drive the video forward.
You will also potentially come up with more ideas for videos and how to do them if you work with another presenter. You can bounce ideas off each other and constructively criticize each other. It’s a fast track to boosting those YouTube presentation skills.
15. Accept that you’re not perfect
Finally, my fifteenth tip to improve your YouTube presentations skills is to allow yourself to be imperfect. Allow yourself to make mistakes.
By accepting that you don’t have to be perfect, you will make fewer mistakes. It may sound strange, but the acceptance of imperfection lifts a huge burden from your shoulders. You can then get on with presenting the video without it turning into a terrifying experience.
If you insist on getting everything right, you will keep stopping and become frustrated by every tiny mistake. In the past I even found myself stopping mid-sentence because in my head I thought I was about to make a mistake.
Incidentally, what you think is a mistake will often go unnoticed by your audience. As creators, we care about every detail. But the audience is not as critical as us. Furthermore, they aren’t looking for your mistakes. What they really want is your content, that’s what matters to them.
So just do your best, ignore any stumbles, and keep going. Knowing you can carry on will keep you calm, relaxed, and more productive. Being natural and real will be easier for you and your viewers will appreciate it.
Watch my video to help with YouTube presentation skills
As I mentioned at the start of the article, I’ve also recorded a video about improving your YouTube presentation skills and calming your presentation nerves.
Tosh Lubek runs an audio and video production business in the UK and has been using the Canon EOS R since it was released in the Autumn of 2018 and the Canon EOS R6 in 2020. He has used both cameras to shoot TV commercials broadcast on Sky TV, promotional business videos, videos of events and functions, and YouTube creator content. He has also won several international awards for his advertising and promotional work. You can meet him by visiting his “video booth” at HashTag Business Events across the country.
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