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9 Tips To Be More Engaging On Camera (For YouTubers)

When I created my first YouTube video, I became keenly aware of how much better other creators were than me on camera.

Over time I’ve gotten much better, and I’ve come up with 9 tips to help out first-time YouTubers get the most out of their videos.

1) Talk To The Camera Like It’s a Person, Not a Crowd

Many people treat YouTube like they’re talking to an auditorium of people (Despite nobody watching their videos).

Don’t do that! Pretend your camera is your best friend instead of a camera. Would your friend think you were talking weird if you spoke to her the way you talked to the camera? If so, you’re doing it wrong.

Talk to your camera like it’s a person and the people watching the video will feel like you’re speaking directly to them. It’ll come off as 100 times more engaging than addressing them like they’re a crowd.

2) Position The Camera Like It’s a Person

I get it; you think you look thinner filming yourself from this really crazy angle. Or you think a straight-ahead shot is a little bit boring, and you want to spice things up.

While those things may be true, it also feels weird to your viewer if you’re talking to them like you’re Spiderman and they’re Mary Jane (upside-down kiss scene anyone?). Put your camera at an angle an actual human-being might look at you from in real-life. It’ll come across much better.

3) Learn To Edit Video

Editing video is hard, so I understand that this tip is easier said than done.

That said, if you cut out any parts where you screw up, the fear of screwing up goes down to zero. That lack of fear will make you so much more relaxed on-camera. It’s incredible what a little bit of editing can make look good.

4) Cut Long Audio Gaps

Audio gaps are the thing that makes what you’re saying seem boring. When you cut them out, suddenly it’s like you’re a fast-talker on crack. Even if you talked very slowly while filming it will come across as very engaging.

On my first pass editing, I simply look at the waveform and cut everything where there’s a large audio gap. This instantly cuts the amount of footage I have to edit in half! It’s a big time-saver.

5) Write a Script for Your Videos

I don’t think you should come up with a word-for-word script for your videos. Instead, outline a bulleted list of talking points. Maybe come up with a few demonstrations or jokes you want to include to break up the content. Once you have your bulleted list, do the following.

  1. Read your bullet point.
  2. Think long and hard about what you want to say.
  3. Record it in one take (try to keep this to 5 minutes max).
  4. If you screwed up bad, repeat step 1.
  5. If you didn’t screw up, stop the recording (so that all your good takes are at the end of a recording), then move on to the next item in the outline.

6) Look Into the Lens, Not At Yourself On The Viewfinder

I struggle with looking at the viewfinder instead of the lens, so I definitely relate to this mistake. But, looking at the viewfinder for too long while filming is a very bad habit. You will come across much better if you can spend most of your time looking into the lens.

7) Dress Comfortably, preferably in layers

Fashion that looks good on-screen is very different than what looks good in a dimly lit bar after 8 beers. And unless you’re in impeccable shape your skimpy outfit is just going to look gross and uncomfortable.

You want the opposite of this. Think layers and comfort. Sweatpants and Jackets. The sweatpants to make you feel relaxed, the layers to make you look more 3-dimensional. On-camera shadows are what makes you look 3D. A hooded sweatshirt or something with a giant collar is actually perfect to showcase how 3-dimensional of a human-being you are.

8) Avoid Substance Abuse

When I got started, I was nervous talking to the camera. It felt incredibly uncomfortable. I thought I’d feel more relaxed and talkative after 2-3 beers, so I gave that a try one time.

What a disaster that was 🙂 . Not because I wasn’t more relaxed, the problem was I misspoke too often and couldn’t stay on topic. It tripled the amount of editing I’d normally have to do and ruined entire shots. And this was only after 2-3 beers, I can’t imagine recording drunk.

The other side of the spectrum is that I’m also addicted to coffee. And it’s not that coffee can’t pep you up a little bit, I’m not saying to avoid caffeine altogether. But, if you still feel anxious on camera a ton of coffee is going to do the opposite of what you’re hoping it will accomplish. You want to look relaxed, not wound up tight.

9) Embrace Outtakes

When you screw up on camera, it’s an incredible gift in disguise. Why?

  1. It’s usually hilarious
  2. Your Audience can relate to your screw-ups way more than the fake “I have it all together” image you portray.

If you have a really good outtake, LEAVE IT IN YOUR VIDEO. I cannot stress that enough. Funny outtakes are some of the best content you will ever produce!