Fear, of being seen

It’s normal to be nervous when faced with the prospect of being seen. The camera sees and magnifies all – blemishes, inauthenticities, the secrets you’ve hidden all these years! Yet, the reality is it’s simply a mirror, a catalyst for those things that are in the way of us simply expressing ourselves.

Further on, I’ll share some practical tips for engaging with the camera, whether that’s with a phone or otherwise (the principles are the same).

But before we get there, let me offer what I see as the underlying reason for this fear.

I too have dealt with the fear of presenting to camera. No, really. I’ve actually found public speaking much less confronting and although I’ve been in video production and even camera coaching for clients, I’ve continually avoided getting in front of the lens.

Here’s a video of me from a few years back. Note: immediately before this video, I was experiencing peak discombobulation – I couldn’t finish a take. Instead of giving up, I decided to muse on the origins of this fear to camera.

I believe this practice, instead of reaching for an A+ in presentation, of being both curious and sharing before you’re ready is both a fulcrum of success, and so much more effective for getting the results that you seek, than said “presentation skills”.

While there are many ways to overcome nervousness, and while many hawk the time-tested method of simply practising (coz it’s true), having clarity about your underlying purpose, your Why, your True Story makes a real difference. It’s because of my belief and commitment to this principle that Screen Coach exists.

A recent example expressing both my Why, and What I do, in 30secs – that’s >90% less rambling! (if I can – you can too!):

An excercise – Start presenting to camera, today:

  1. YOUR CONTENT: brainstorm as many possible thought pieces that you could share to camera, things that you value, close to your heart. Things you care about, that you know matter. Write them all down, don’t censor yourself.
    1. ELIMINATION: what subjects solve a need/provide value? Cross them out.
    2. Drill down to 2-3 key points you want to express (no more!).
  2. Find a well-lit mirror to practise in front of. Set a timer to under a minute and practice sharing your 2-3 points, and choose an alarm you don’t mind hearing on repeat! While different types of presentating videos work at longer lengths, A) a personal intro video should be short, and B) we all need to practice to succinctly articulate messages.
    NOTE: a key reason we are uncomfortable seeing ourselves on screen is that we are used to seeing ourselves in the mirror. We are used to seeing a mirror image of ourselves. It is what we recognise as “myself”. Yet, this mirror image is NOT what the rest of the world sees – they, and the camera, see you, unreflected. When we see this image there is an immediate disconnect – we know it’s ourselves, yet something is wrong here. To get over this we simply need to re-train our brain, by watching ourselves, to become accustomed to this new image of ourselves as we actually are!
    Pay attention to:

    1. Your expressions
    2. Your hand gestures
    3. Your body movements
    4. Your voice.
    5. Your speaking rhythm.
    6. Are you welcoming? Trustworthy? If not, how are you being? Can you clarify exactly what value you have to offer? Find a rhythm that you’re confident and natural with.
  3. Repeat #2 with a smartphone (you can even tape to the same mirror!). Watch back this video – what was missing? Take notes. Share with friends and family, and get (honest) feedback.
  4. Rinse and repeat.

Remember – if you’re not used to watching yourself on camera, it’ll be uncomfortable to watch, because as stated above (if not accustomed to presenting) – we’re accustomed to our mirror image! Also, we’re accustomed to our voices reverberating through our skull, while others hear it projected at them. So, another thing you’ll be familiar with is your voice!

All this will simply become comfortable and natural through practice. Speaking as someone that was very uncomfortable watching myself – I can attest to that a day will come when watching your real-world visage, and voice, occurs as natural.

If you're someone that provides value, then you can scale this through presenting to camera. Share on X

It’s completely normal to initially feel you’re getting it all wrong, with the accompanying mad-monkey-in-your-brain-talk-back. Yet, again, persist, back yourself, and these thoughts and feelings do fade.

At ReelM our focus is much less on “presentation skills”, and more on your Purpose, and your message. Rather than focus on you and “camera skills”, we focus on your Value, and your audience.

We stand behind the principle of knowing your value, that offering it isn’t about you, that it’s actually about your audience as fundamentally more important than what (we can) is superficially worried about on screen.

It’s not about looking good, you’re not out to win a Tv Presenting contract, you’re out to offer value and win prospects – it’s about being real and engaging your audience!

Ultimately, nervousness fades, sometimes it doesn’t, yet with the above practice, your ability to express yourself, know your own value and engage an audience definitely will.