How to not be #awkward on video

We all want to be authentic and natural on camera but nerves often get in the way. Nerves can make us hold back. Nerves make us do strange things … awkward things, like repetitively moving our hands or head or body; or standing stiffly and staring at the lens blankly, with no movement at all (both are awkward); or sending our voice up into our head and speaking in a pitch that is not our natural voice (cartoon character voice = no power), or speaking super fast (think of a chipmunk … do you really listen to that voice?).


Yikes! Time for a self check.

Lets take a look at three of the most crucial points to impactful speaking, whether it is on video, in a webinar, podcast or from the stage.

1. Body language and movement

Excessive or repetitive body movements are not gestures.  They are awkward “go-to” habits used in an effort to overcome discomfort or help you find the words when your head is going too fast for your mouth.  We established these “go to” patterns years ago, and usually, we are not even aware we are doing them until we watch ourselves back on video. And what that amounts to is …

Everything is 25% bigger on camera, not just the size of your butt waist!

So watch your hands, try holding both hands in front of you and clasping one finger with your other hand. Once you can still your hands, we can then introduce them again later, one at a time, only to support your message though. Also, glue your elbows to your waist. Don’t let them come unstuck. And lastly, make sure you do a test record. Get someone to watch you and interrupt you every time you start with your old “go to” habit.

I recently saw the “bobbing head” habit! And it was a tight frame, so the persons head filled the entire screen. #awkward! It became a huge, annoying bobbing head!! If you can’t control your head, pull back on the frame and at least have something else in shot for your audience to look at!

Speaking of framing and body movement ….um, how do I say this? (INSERT WHISPER). If you speak with your hands, it’s dangerous to film with a tight frame, because your body will be jiggling, but we can’t see your hands. It looks a little bit like seeing movement under the doona cover but only seeing two heads on the pillows!


The way you get around that is to pull back on the frame and make sure we can at least see your hands come into shot from time to time! WINK!

2. Pace and pausing

Another “go to” habit is speaking without pausing or speaking too quickly. It’s like writing without any punctuation! We don’t write like this, so we shouldn’t speak like this either.  Your message will be so diluted, it wont even be worth sharing.


This habit comes from feeling that we need to fill all of the space.  When it’s only YOU behind the lens, and you stop talking, the silence is deafening. But don’t fall for believing it’s awkward – it’s not! It’s natural.  People need time to absorb information. And because people are so self focused, they like to think about how your information applies to them and their situation. So you need to allow them time to do that. Controlling your pace is crucial. In general, most of us need to slow down (it’s nerves that make us speed up). And learn how to use pauses intentionally for impactful speaking.


Pause before and after an important word or phrase.

Your key word or phrase MUST NOT be delivered in the same way as the rest of your content. It must be given space and it must be injected with a different energy (vary volume, pitch, pace, tone, inflections). Check out Bill Clinton’s address to the nation over the Monica Lewinsky affair, and his effective delivery of his key message here.

Don’t be fooled by thinking you must go bigger by being louder. With speaking, often the opposite can be true. Next time you want to make something bigger – as in, more impactful, go quieter and go slower. Whisper even. It will draw your audience in to you.

Speaking is an inner game. The more conscious and deliberate you can become, the more eloquent you will be. Slow down, and value every word – no two words are the same so don’t treat them the same. Know what you are going to say and why. Ask yourself what each phrase will add and what emotion it must convey. When you can do this, you can own your power. You are in control, and you own your words. There’s absolutely nothing awkward about that.

Give it a try and let me know how you go!

Sam x