Do you hate the idea of watching yourself on video? Most people do. But in our courses it’s one of the most powerful tools for helping people reduce their fear of public speaking. Watching yourself give a presentation can actually give you a tremendous confidence boost.
That’s because the way that you come across is often better than the way you imagine you come across. While you can feel your nervousness, the audience can only see it or hear it. Mike Bogle from the TechTicker blog writes:
“In listening to the recording I was amazed how relaxed I sounded relative to the whirlwind of anxiety that was actually going on inside my head.”
So your audience is not nearly as aware of your nervousness as you are.
There’s only one way to prove this to yourself and that’s by watching yourself present on video. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to watch yourself. So here are some tips to not only survive watching your video but to give yourself a boost of confidence:
1. Watch with an honest and compassionate friend
Choose a friend who was at the live presentation when you were videoed. That’s because there are some things which stand out in a video that the audience wouldn’t have noticed during the live presentation. Your friend can guide you as to what was noticeable during your live presentation. Otherwise there’s a risk that you may get fixated on something you think you did wrong – but which the live audience didn’t notice.
2. Be aware that it can be a little weird
“Aargh! I look like my mother”
Most people find watching themselves on video to be a little weird. Watching yourself on video is very different to seeing your reflection in the mirror – you see different angles of your face, you see yourself moving. And you may suddenly realize you look just like your mother, or your brother or whatever!
“I hate my voice!”
Your voice also sounds different. You probably already know this from hearing yourself on your recorded messages. The explanation for this is that when you hear yourself normally (i.e., not recorded) you’re hearing yourself through your skull bones and your chest cavity. Therefore your voice sounds deeper and more resonant to you. The way you hear yourself on the video is the way that other people normally hear you…sorry!
3. Get over it!
Give yourself a few moments to notice these weird things – and then realize that these things are only of any interest to you. Your audience doesn’t care whether you look like your mother, and they’re used to hearing your voice. Your friend will corroborate this – ask them.
4. Don’t get concerned that you’re waving your hands about
On video your gestures look bigger than they do in real life. That’s because of the frame provided by the video. That amplifies your body language. It’s most likely that your gestures were fine during the live presentation. Gestures add energy and show enthusiasm. Ask your friend how your gestures came across in the live presentation.
5. Don’t get hung up on little things
You may notice things (scratching your nose, saying the odd um and ah) that were not that noticeable in the live presentation. Again, when you notice these things, pause the video, and ask your friend whether it was distracting in the live presentation.
6. Pretend it isn’t you
Now I want you to have an out-of-body experience. Imagine the person you’re seeing on the video is not you. Imagine it’s a colleague. And answer these questions:
a) How nervous do they look?
If you had no knowledge of this person would you think they were nervous? Now you may know that your voice felt shaky – but don’t listen for it. If you were an ordinary member of the audience would you feel at ease with this person as a presenter? If you’re not sure – ask your friend.
b) What are they doing well?
Your instinct is going to be look for all the things you could improve. You’ll notice these things anyway. So discipline yourself to look for what this presenter is doing well (you’re still pretending you’re watching someone else). If you’re having difficulty finding positive things ask your friend and then take the time to really notice them.
If you watch your video with these tips in mind, you’ll see that you don’t look as nervous as you feel. Enjoy the confidence boost.
About the Author:
Olivia Mitchell is a presentation skills trainer with Effective Speaking consulting firm in Wellington, New Zealand and author of the Speaking About Presenting blog.