How do I get more comfortable speaking to a camera?
September 13, 2020 10:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning to record some math tutorial videos for university level math. Whenever I try to record a video, I come across as awkward and unnatural and I don't sound as good as when I'm talking to someone face to face. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can sound more natural when speaking to a camera?

Several years ago, I worked as a math tutor at my local university. I was pretty good at it and it was my full time job for several years. At the time, I had wanted to create a website with videos that students could purchase access to as a more affordable option to hiring a tutor. At the time, the technology wasn't really easy to use and I didn't get that far. Now, I think the technology is there and I also think it's a good time to do this when many students will be limiting their person-to-person contact and therefore may be hesitant about meeting a tutor. Therefore, I was planning to record some tutorial videos and sell access to them for a low fee. The problem I'm having is that I find it considerably more awkward to teach the material to a webcam than to a face to face person. When I try record myself, I feel like I come across as stiff and awkward and I don't sound as natural as I do when speaking to someone face to face. I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas for how I can get more comfortable speaking to a camera.
posted by NoneOfTheAbove to Technology (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is there someone in your household who can sit off camera (or on camera?), so you can teach that person? That would re-create the face to face energy your current recordings lack.
posted by Spacelegoman at 11:27 PM on September 13, 2020


Talking into a camera is definitely not natural for most of us but a lot of this is fake it til you make it, i.e. practice a lot until it starts to feel normal.

Also, watch a lot of tutorials online, even YT ones on basket weaving, and figure out what the people who are appealing do right and what the people who come across as stilted or just boring do wrong. Practice doing the right things.

And consider your microphone and camera/light setup carefully. This will make all the difference to how natural and warm your voice sounds and also to how professional and present you look on camera.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:45 AM on September 14, 2020 [2 favorites]


Do you have an easier time when you can see your own face, like in video chat? If so then I'd use a camera/display setup that lets you look at and speak to "yourself".
posted by trig at 2:35 AM on September 14, 2020


Are you able to go on to campus and record in an empty lecture space? I think speaking to an imaginary class is easier than right in front of your laptop or webcam. All my academic colleagues have been struggling with this.
posted by biffa at 3:53 AM on September 14, 2020


Making those videos is a performance, and doing it well means rehearsals, even for experienced pros. Give yourself a break for being a newcomer! Developing good speaking skills in any environment is very valuable. Doing it well on camera is a little harder, but with screen-recorded tutorials, you have do-overs!

Watching good instructional videos is good for assessing good, relaxed delivery. The best podcasters and news readers are worth listening to as well. One key is to enjoy it - that will come through to your audience. Genuine enthusiasm (not overdoing it) offers your audience a good connection.

Try this: read and record a few of your draft scripts with a friend or two listening, and then continue recording yourselves discussing what in your delivery worked for them. Later, listen to the recording and compare how you sound reading the scripts vs in the conversations. This is a model of how you sound when you're speaking informally. That's the tone you're going for.

With enough practice you'll be able to listen to kind of assess yourself as you speak. You'll come to hear the awkward phrases or pauses and learn to deliver more conversationally and comfortably.

Great good luck to you!
posted by conscious matter at 8:59 AM on September 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


Practice. Set up a camera and talk to it, then watch the video and make a few notes about details you want to focus on. Repeat. (For example, I've learned that I have a tendency to look down and away after I've finished a thought, and I'm trying to work on keeping my gaze on the camera instead.)

Here are a couple of YouTube videos about this that I've found useful:
Peter McKinnon: HOW TO FILM YOURSELF
Daniel Schiffer: How to Talk to the Camera!
Cathrin Manning: HOW TO BE CONFIDENT ON CAMERA: Tips for talking to a camera as a small YouTuber
posted by Lexica at 9:51 AM on September 14, 2020 [3 favorites]


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