No matter your political leanings, it was difficult not to empathize with Senator Marco Rubio during his State of the Union response this week. Though he did not succumb to his thirst until about halfway through his speech, it was apparent by his incessant lip smacking leading up to his desperate lurch for water that he was suffering from a severe case of cottonmouth. While we admit we giggled a bit, we’ll go easy on Senator Rubio and simply use his understandable, yet preventable, gaffe to share a few friendly reminders that will keep you from making a similar faux pas.
1. Obey Your Thirst
How could this tip not be at the top of our list? Whether we’re nervous, filming in a dry location, or simply not used to speaking so much, anyone can fall victim to dry mouth. If you want to avoid needing to quench your thirst in the middle of filming, the keys to are prevention and preparation. Be sure to drink plenty of water before you begin filming and during breaks throughout the production process. If that’s still not enough, consider working a sip “break” into your video; if timed correctly and done in a relaxed manner, taking a small sip of water can give them an extra second or two to do just that after you have just said something particularly profound.
2. Think Arctic vs. Tropical
While we certainly don’t encourage filming in a parka (unless, of course, that makes sense for your video), we do suggest you keep the temperature of your filming venue on the chillier side. With the heat of lights and the fact that even the most confident of us can get a little nervous under pressure and sweat, keeping your thermostat set to low can help you keep your cool.
3. Every Video Star’s Drugstore Shopping List
Despite the fact that it is now 53 years old, most are familiar with the sweaty, uncomfortable look sported by President Richard Nixon during his debate with President John F. Kennedy in 1960. Do not walk into this easily avoidable, and yet still all too common, blunder! Unlike Nixon, who refused to wear foundation, Kennedy understood the importance of appearance when your audience can see you. Simply apply powder to avoid glistening on camera. While picking up powder at the drugstore, don’t forget to grab anti-frizz hair serum to tame unruly fly-aways and Chapstick to keep your lips properly moistened while speaking.
4. Distractions, Be Gone!
Before starting the filming process, turn off your cell phone, take loose change out of your pockets and clunky jewelry off, choose a stationary versus rolling/rotating chair if you’re seated, and banish from the room all people and pets who are not directly involved in the production process. You will have improved concentration and feel less pressure if it’s just you and those equally invested in the filming process.
5. X Marks the Spot
Generally speaking, you do not want to move around in a video because it can be distracting for your audience and difficult to control your background scenery. However, if you must walk from one spot to another, make it easier on yourself. Using chalk, draw an “X” on the floor of the spot(s) to which you’ll need to move. It may seem silly now, but when you’re speaking on camera, remembering even small details like where to stop can prove challenging. In most cases, your feet are not being filmed so your viewers will ever know the difference.
6. Enemies in Disguise
Solid green and blue can look fantastic on camera but before you don either of these colors, ensure that you will not be using chroma keying front of a green or blue screen… Unless the floating head look is what you’re after.
7. Speaking of Attire…
Stripes and small or busy patterns look awful on camera and can even hurt people’s eyes. Don’t be that guy (or gal). Additionally, stay away from whites, pastels, nudes, reds, and blacks as these colors have a difficult time allowing the camera to capture the natural curves of the human form if your ensemble is not form-fitting. In other words, you’ll look like a blob. Rich shades of blue, purple, and green (as long as you’re not working against a green screen) stand up well on camera.
8. Video Au Naturale
We know you know how important it is to sound like you are talking to your audience rather than at them when you create your video. What you may not realize, however, is how rehearsed and unnatural you may sound if you memorize a script word for word. The same is true if you rely on a teleprompter: You run the risk of sounding like a robot. To avoid this, either write your own script or have a hand in editing it to ensure that you include language rolls right off your tongue while filming. Then, rather than memorizing your script, rehearse it and perhaps write a bulleted list on a piece of poster board (held up behind the camera) to reference during filming, ensuring you stay on track.
9. Sharing the Camera
If you are not the only star of your online video, take time to rehearse and remain open to creating a different version of your original script if it makes sense. Camaraderie is difficult to fake so if you and your fellow video talent are familiar with one another’s speaking style, it will bode well for your final product. Additionally, through your rehearsal interaction, you may find that you better deliver a line initially written for them (and vice-versa).
10. Have a Good Time!
Relax. Smile. Laugh. Blast your favorite song and dance around like a maniac to shake off your nerves (even if this is done using ear buds and alone in your office)! Your viewers are watching your video not to critique you but because they like what you have to offer so don’t work yourself up.