Times have changed rapidly and technology has become the saving grace of education and community connection. For those of us in fields and vocations which are typically dependent upon human connection and transmission of information through personal contact and relationships, here are a few tips for shifting to sharing your gifts virtually.
Remember when you first started standing in front of a group and felt your heart pound and words garble in your throat? This was much like a kind of stage fright. Take comfort that you have been through this before and probably had a slew of tactics you used that still apply! What you experienced before was much like a stage actor and now you are shifting to a similar venue, just more like a film actor. What's different and what's the same? Check out these suggestions below.
TALK TO A PERSON, NOT THE CAMERA
Though staring at a screen may seem impersonal, there are people on the other side aching to connect. They want your personality, your unique-isms, and to feel your presence. Look at the camera whenever you are positioned to do so. Imagine a person standing behind it whom you are speaking directly to and interact. You might even choose a person in your life to imagine, someone who you crack up with, are fully yourself with, who loves your quirks.
SET THE LIGHTING
Test it out. Bounce strong lights off of walls or floors, or even the walls behind the camera to show as much detail on your face as possible.
SPEAK SLOWLY AND VARY YOUR VOICE
Rhythm is engaging. Like a good song, people may step away from the screen but if they hear your voice punctuated, slow, articulated, and with rhythm, they are more likely to hear your content and remember it like their favorite song. Do you tend to speed up or trail off on your words when you are nervous? Remember to speak slowly. Another common tendency (I'm guilty of this one!) is the monotone tendency when nervous. If you catch yourself falling asleep to the sound of your own voice, just remember how much range is possible. I love to sing my voice up and down before teaching to remember the range of expression possible.
SMILE BUT DON'T GRIMACE
There's a spectrum of nervousness where either the face becomes expressionless or one might grimace/ ear to ear smile which our evolutionary friends apes use to say "please don't hurt me" (joking no joking). Just remember a smile now and then -- When you are having fun, others will too.
OPEN BODY POSTURE
If much of your class is taking place facing the camera, open your shoulders, feel free to use your hands and arms while speaking (without flailing). Relax and breathe.
Dry mouth much? Consider keeping a little water with you to take a sip when you need.
BREATHE and FEEL YOUR SEAT or FEET
I remember being in school and getting the advice to picture the audience in their underwear as a way to stay relaxed.... Somehow that didn't relax me:) There are many other ways to overcome stage fright. And the best one I know is BREATHING. Stay connected to the ground. Exhale and feel what touches the earth, anytime. You can even invite people to do it with you. There's nothing wrong with mentioning it if nerves overtake you the first go round. Breathing is the best way to stay relaxed and natural in front of the camera or anywhere.