Speak on Camera: 7 Strategies to Build Confidence & Engage Your Audience | Karim Darwish | Skillshare

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Speak on Camera: 7 Strategies to Build Confidence & Engage Your Audience

teacher avatar Karim Darwish, Theatre Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (38m)
    • 1. Welcome to the Class

    • 2. Identify & Manage Your Fears

    • 3. Know Your Target Audience

    • 4. Build Engaging Content

    • 5. Learn Eye-Contact Styles & Facial Expressions

    • 6. Use Hand Gestures & Body Language

    • 7. Practicing Techniques to Boost Confidence

    • 8. Overcome Your Inner Critic

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About This Class

Speaking on camera can be stressful and intimidating. If you want to reach your audience, inspire your followers, or grow your online business through video marketing but feel stuck because of your fear of the camera, you are not alone. This course will guide you through strategies and tools that will help you overcome your fear and feel confident about getting on camera and connecting with your viewers. 

In this course, you will learn:

  1. How to manage your fear of speaking on camera.
  2. How to sound more natural on camera.
  3. How to connect with your audience.

Who is this course for?

  1. Content Creators who want to build a personal connection with their followers.
  2. Business owners who want to connect with their customers and boost their sales.
  3. Teachers who want to create online courses and join the growing online education field.
  4. Anyone looking to grow their on-camera speaking skills. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Karim Darwish

Theatre Artist


Hi! I am Karim, an actor, educator, and content creator. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting and over 7 years of experience in video production. I am bringing my love for performing arts and filmmaking together to create quality online education content on performance and communication skills.


My goal is to empower you to go beyond your comfort zone, find your voice, and express yourself with confidence so that you can become more successful and make the world a slightly better place being alive in it here and now!


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1. Welcome to the Class: Speaking on camera can be intimidating, especially if you're new to it. You may feel anxious, awkward, and unnatural. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. If you want to market your business online and reach your audience with video, but find yourself dreading putting yourself on camera, it is normal. Fear of speaking on camera is common and you can learn how to manage it. This course will help you achieve the following on-camera skills. Number 1, identify and manage your fears. Number 2, speak more naturally, and number 3, connect with your audience. I'm Karim, I'm a theater artist and content creator, and I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting. I have acted, spoken, and taught on camera so many times. The first time I spoke on camera, I was nervous, I was talking fast and I didn't know what to do with my hands. Even now, after gaining experience, I still get nervous and feel intimidated by the cameras staring at me. If this is you too, do not get discouraged. I will share with you the steps that have helped me be more confident and natural on camera. I want you to feel empowered to share your work and inspire your audience. This course is for content creators who want to produce online videos, business owners who want to boost their sales with video marketing, teachers who want to create online courses, and anyone who wants to grow their own camera speaking skills. Each lesson in this course will introduce one step and we'll have a short activity for you to complete. I highly encourage you to do the exercises to practice what you learn in the lessons. By the end of this course, you will identify your fears of speaking on camera and manage them, find your target audience, build your content, understand different eye-contact styles and on-camera facial expressions, understand how to use your hands and body language on camera, learn different practicing techniques and manage the voice of criticism in your head. When you are ready, I will see you in lesson 1. 2. Identify & Manage Your Fears: Why is the camera intimidating? What is it that makes speaking to a camera scary? We need to know what the source of this fear is so we can address it and manage it. In my experience, there have been four reasons why people feel intimidated by the camera. Your reasons may be similar or they may be different from these, and that's okay. The camera just stands there and stares at you, it captures your slightest expressions. You feel under the microscope and that everything you say and do is captured forever, broadcasted to everyone in the world. It's the feeling of being watched and judged. As a content creator, you are in control. No one can see your content if you don't want to. You are not being watched or judged. If you're broadcasting live on camera, then yes, the truth is that some people will be judging you, and that is okay. It is part of the deal. Have realistic expectations and know that no matter what you say or do, someone will still judge. Don't focus on the negative voices, focus on the people who need your content. The people who will learn, grow and be inspired by what you have to say. Those are the ones you should be making your content for. We will talk more about that in future lessons. As a solo content creator, you often will find yourself talking to a camera alone without anyone else with you. Hearing only the sound of your own voice in an empty room feels awkward as if you are talking to yourself. It can make you more self-conscious and will keep you from being natural. You are not talking to yourself and you're not talking to the camera. You are talking to your audience through the camera, focus on your audience who will benefit from your content. Picture your viewers looking for a solution to their problem, which your content can offer. Remember that it's not about performing, it's about connecting with your audience. The same is true even if you have other people in the room watching you talk to a camera. Maybe there are crew members or other workers or live audience. Make sure when you speak on camera to focus on the person you want to reach. Picture them sitting in front of you. When you speak to a camera you don't get instant feedback like talking to a live audience, you are in the dark. You don't know if your content makes sense, if your jokes are funny or if your audience is bored and falling asleep. Hopefully not. With a live audience, however, you have interaction, you can adjust your delivery as needed. The live audience may laugh, clap, or you may see them physically falling asleep in front of you and know that you need to change something. On camera, you're on your own. Yes, you will not be getting instant feedback, but you will be getting a delayed one. You will be getting comments on your videos, messages on social media or reviews in one form or the other. Be open to feedback as long as it's constructive and respectful, and make the necessary adjustments to your future content. When we talk to a live audience, it's one and done. We don't have the option to pause and repeat or delete a performance we didn't like. On camera, we have the chance to watch back our recording. This is a challenge to a lot of people, myself included. When I see my recording, I start judging my performance, and my picky overthinking gets me to record myself again and again until I get it just right. This adds way too much stress and wastes a lot of time. It keeps me in my head and my performance ends up looking rehearsed and unnatural. We all want to look our best on camera. It's okay to re-film yourself a couple of times if you need to fix something or want to make sure your content is clear. Just remind yourself that it's not about you, it's about your audience. Focus on sharing quality content, that will be of value to your viewer, and don't get stuck on how you looked or sounded. If the content is good, clear, valuable, and your delivery helps the viewer understand and benefit from it, release it. Don't end up spending hours filming or not releasing anything at all. Your activity for this lesson is to write down all the reasons keeping you from getting on camera. List all of your fears of speaking on camera, no matter how silly you may think they are. Feel free to share your responses in the project section of the course or the comments with other students. Community feedback and support are very helpful in overcoming our fears. In the next lesson, we will talk about knowing your audience before meeting them and how to tailor your speech to their needs. 3. Know Your Target Audience: To speak naturally and with confidence, you will need to first identify who you are talking to, who is your audience, and why should this audience listen to you. Here are five questions you need to answer to identify your target audience. Who is my audience? What does my audience want? What problem does my audience have? What solution am I offering to help my audience solve their problem? Why do I want to help? Your relationship with your audience should not be about a performance or a sale, your relationship should be about building a connection. When we talk to strangers, we are not entirely ourselves, we perform and we speak so professionally; there isn't a deeper connection. But when we talk to family, friends, coworkers, or people we are familiar with, we don't perform, we are natural and we have a deeper connection. You need to bring the sense of familiarity and deeper connection to your relationship with your audience. Here is how. First, you need to identify who is it that you want to reach. Create an audience persona or a profile and answer these questions. How old is your audience? What's their gender? What's their nationality? Where are they located? What are their interests? What are their beliefs? What job do they have? What education do they have? What is their social status? Answer as many of these questions as you can. Second, identify the level of expertise your audience has on the subject you will be talking about, are they total beginners or are they advanced? Example. You are a health and wellness coach, you want to reach individuals interested in healthy meal planning. Your audience profile may look like this. College students ages 17-21 on a budget, or vegan college students 17-21 on a budget, or busy parents interested in a gluten free diet, or Italians over 50 interested in a low calorie Mediterranean meal plan. If you don't know who your audience is yet, let them be your younger self. Think of where you were in life 5-10 years ago. What were your interests, your goals and challenges, and your level of expertise? What problem did you have and what solution were you looking for? Your audience should have a clear goal they want to achieve and your content should be their guide to that goal. Identify the goal for your audience. What do they want or need? For example, our audience are college students who want to eat healthy, but they have a busy college life. They don't have time to cook and no budget to keep eating out. The goal for this audience then may be looking like this, I want to prepare quick and easy healthy meals on a budget. There is a challenge in the way of your audience. This challenge is keeping them from reaching their goal. This is why they are looking for a solution. Identify what is the challenge your audience is facing. Does your audience lack resources, or are they looking for education? Maybe they are challenged by fear of failure. For example, the audience lack experience and resources, they don't know how to cook quick, healthy meals that are low in cost. They want to learn recipes and they want resources on best places to shop for groceries and money saving tips. How will your content help your audience overcome their challenge and reach your goal? What solution are you offering? Make sure your content is built around helping your audience. They are the heroes of your story, you are there to guide and support them. For our example, your content is offering tools and steps to prepare healthy, affordable meals fast. This question is very important to your success as a content creator. Your answer will keep you focused and on track. It will keep you connected to your audience and will prevent you from getting lost in your fears and doubts. This is your why, this is your driving force, this is what will pull you back up every time you fall and it will push you forward every time you feel like giving up. Your why has to be mainly about your audience. Your why should not be to make money or to be famous. There is nothing wrong with wanting success and financial advancement, it just can't be your main focus. You have to listen to your audience and care for them. Be so good and valuable to them that they want to pay you and use your services. Every time you find yourself lost in fear and self-doubt, overthinking your performance on camera or unable to sound natural, remember your why, think about your audience and why you are helping them. Imagine your viewers watching your videos and being inspired by your content. Focus on helping your audience. This will help you get out of your heads, be more confident and sound more natural on camera. Your activity for this lesson is to complete the audience profile worksheet for your target audience. You can find the sheet under the Resources tab for this course. Feel free to share your work with me and other students by posting it in the project section if you would like to get feedback. In the next lesson, we will talk about building your content and knowing it too to become more confident and sound more natural when you talk about it on-camera. 4. Build Engaging Content: Knowing what you are talking about will help you be more confident and natural on camera. You need to be comfortable talking about your content. Even if you're reading off a teleprompter, you need to understand and be familiar with your content and what you're saying to sound more natural. Here are four things you can do to make sure you understand your content so that you can feel confident speaking about it. Without a clear purpose, your content will be all over the place. It will not be focused, it will confuse your viewer. Make sure your content has a strong purpose that aligns with the needs and challenges of your audience. In a nutshell, the purpose of your content should be to provide a solution to a problem your audience has. You, of course, need to make that purpose more specific based on your work. You don't need to be an expert to add value to someone's life. This was my challenge for a very long time. I thought I had to wait till I have all the knowledge and expertise before I can create content. This is not true. Think of yourself as a guide, help that person who is a step or two behind you. You do need to do research, however. Research the topic you will be talking on. Use all the resources you can find, read online articles, books, watch videos, and talk to people with experience on the topic, if possible. Be so familiar with your topic that you can talk about it on the spot with anyone. It's also very important that you become aware of all the viewpoints of your topic. Be familiar with the viewpoints that support your claims and the ones that don't. This will give you credibility with your audience and you will sound more like an expert. A goal here is that you feel so comfortable when you get on camera that you don't have to think about what you are saying, you just say it, you become natural. When you are preparing your topic, don't rush yourself. Make sure you give yourself enough time to plan, research, and create your content. Allow yourself to grow with it, have your take on it, bring your personality and personal experiences to it. You don't want to appear as if you just read something two days ago and making a video about it, you need to be knowledgeable and comfortable with your content to sound natural. Feedback is key to success. As long as it's respectful and constructive, be open to getting feedback. Find someone you trust and feel comfortable with, like a family member or a friend, and present your work to them. Ask for honest feedback. Find out if your content is clear and easy to understand and if there is anything that needs improvement. This way, you will be more confident and natural on camera when you know that you've content is good. Now it's your turn to build your content and get familiar with it. Your activity for this lesson is answering the content worksheet and writing a simple content outline. It's okay if you want to use a different topic than the one you chose for the previous activities, but I highly encourage you to stick with the same topic and build on it with each activity for each lesson. In the next lesson, we will talk about eye contact and facial expressions on camera. 5. Learn Eye-Contact Styles & Facial Expressions: Now you are ready to get on camera. The 1st question is, where do you look? Do you look into the lens or do you look off camera to the side? Here is how you know. When you look at the camera, you are making direct eye contact with your viewer. You are communicating to your audience that you are having a conversation together. Looking into the camera is more intimate and can help you build a closer connection with your audience. However, looking at the camera can be more intimidating for you, especially if you're not used to speaking on camera. You may feel more vulnerable, but that's totally normal and you can overcome this by practice and experience. Looking off camera is used in narrative and documentary style videos. When you look away from the camera, you are not making eye contact with your viewers. You are inviting your audience to watch you, but they are not directly part of the conversation. Looking off camera may help you be more relaxed and natural, especially if you are talking to a real person behind the camera. Which style do you use? Looking at the camera or looking away? This depends on three factors. What works for your audience to be engaged and connected with you, what works for your content style to be effective, and your comfort level on camera Experiment with both styles and see what works best. Your priority should be clarity more than artistic choices. Maybe you think it looks really cool to look away from the camera, but it doesn't fit your content and disengages your audience. Then looking cool won't matter. Maybe you want to look at the camera and you think this will engage your audience, but your content may be sensitive or controversial. Well, not making direct eye contact with your audience may be the best choice for them. Some content creators use a mix of both. They have a main camera that they make eye contact with and another camera that films them from the side. See what works for your purpose and choose your eye contact wisely. Don't just randomly look on or off camera. Should you smile? Do you stay neutral? Does being serious make you look more professional? How do you have a natural facial expression? Well, the answer to all of these questions is to do nothing at all. Your face knows what to do very well. You just need to get out of your head and your face is away and let it do its thing. What expression do you have on your face when talking to people you are comfortable with about a topic you know well? You probably don't even know because you were not thinking about it, you were just being yourself. When you get on camera, don't think about your face, focus on who you are talking to and the message you want to communicate. For each section of your video, set an intention, not a facial expression. Instead of thinking of smiling, laughing or looking serious, focus on the intention. This intention can be something like to encourage, to inspire, to motivate, to educate, for example. How does each one of these intentions make you speak differently? How do they serve your audience and your content? Set your intention and your facial expressions will follow naturally. Emotions have to come naturally. You can't just force a smile, it will look rehearsed. The more you practice and speak on camera, the more you will get out of your head and not think about the face. Your activity for this lesson is a fun exercise called the isolation technique. In this exercise, you will isolate one part of the body and use it alone without the rest of your body. Using the outline you wrote in the previous lesson, record yourself saying it with just your eyes. No words, just talk with your eyes. You can also practice this in the mirror. Or if you feel like it, bring a friend and have them guess the mood and intention you were going for from just seeing you talk with your eyes. This is a theater technique used to help actors communicate deeper and not focus on what the body's doing. It's okay if it feels weird or silly, it's meant to take you out of your comfort zone. However, you know yourself and you know your limits. Do not do anything you are not comfortable with. If this exercise doesn't work for you, that's fine, don't do it. If you choose to do it, feel free to share your thoughts on it with other students in the comment section. In the next lesson, we will talk about hands and body language on camera. 6. Use Hand Gestures & Body Language: When you speak on camera, you are in a frame. The audience cannot see your whole body like you're talking on stage or in person. The first thing you need to do is to be aware of your framing. How much of your body is showing on camera and how much is not? What's in frame and what's not? If the framing changes, how much of you is visible in the white frame? How much is visible in the close-up? If you are filming yourself, I suggest having a flip-out screen or connecting your camera to an external monitor to see yourself, otherwise, ask the camera operator about your framing. The other thing to be aware of is your movement. You don't need to make any big gestures like you would on stage. It will be distracting on camera. You need to be more subtle. Talk like you are in a one-on-one conversation with someone sitting in front of you. Just like with your facial expression, your movement needs to come naturally. You shouldn't plan every hand gesture or neck rotation. That is the opposite of naturally. Instead, focus on the audience you're talking to and on the intentions that you set in the previous lessons and your body will move naturally. But what if you still feel frozen and don't know what to do with your hands or body? Our bodies have their own memory. They remember how they moved and felt during different situations. Next time you're talking to family and friends or anyone you are comfortable around, be aware of how your body is moving, how you're using your hands, how you are standing or sitting, how you gesture. Recall that memory on camera and trust that your body knows what to do. You don't need to interfere. You already know how to speak and move when you're in your comfort zone. You just need to free yourself in front of the camera. This will come with practice. Even with experience, you may still find yourself not knowing what to do with your hands. That is totally normal. Here are a few tips you can follow. Have a comfortable resting place that you can bring your hands to whenever you catch yourself thinking about your gestures. This can be holding your hands together off frame or placing them on a table or surface if you have it. Keep your hands busy by holding an object like your notes or a microphone if it makes sense to your content style, or just keep your hands off frame and don't worry about using them too much. The more you speak on camera, the more comfortable and natural your hands will move. These tips are for speaking on camera, they won't work well if you are speaking on stage or in person. The framing of the camera, however, allows you to control what the audience sees. Live audience can see your whole body. But that would be for another class. Speaking naturally to a live audience. There are a few things to keep in mind when speaking on camera. Keep your movement to a minimum. As we mentioned before, too much movement on camera is distracting. The camera is right there with you and be aware of any repeated patterns. This can be a hand gesture you do a lot, it can be swaying, it can be clapping your thighs without realizing. When we're nervous, we tend to fall into these distracting patterns which tell our audience that we are not confident. Your activity for this lesson is to repeat the isolation technique. This time, instead of talking with just your eyes, you will use just your hands. I don't mean sign language. I mean talking as you would to a friend, but without words, only your hands. Use your outline and record short 30 seconds to a minute video introducing your topic to your audience. You don't have to show this video to anyone if you don't want to, but it would be good for you to have a clip that you can look back at, and reflect on to track your progress. As always, you are more than welcome to post your activities in the class project section for feedback, and feel free to use the comments section to engage with other students in class. I will also be happy to answer your questions about the lessons. In the next lesson, we will explore some fun practicing techniques to get you out of your head and be more comfortable on camera. 7. Practicing Techniques to Boost Confidence: Practicing is so much fun. This is your workshop where you get to play around, explore new ways, and make mistakes, and laugh at them, and where you are not afraid to look silly. The goal during practice is to go so big and exaggerate our performance so we can explore what's beyond our comfort zone. That's where you discover a lot of cool things about yourself that you did not know about. It's also easier to tone down an exaggeration and make your performance more specific after your practice, and starting from a smaller scale and having to work harder to get to a level of performance that is engaging. Here are some fun practice techniques that will encourage you to go out of your comfort zone. Everyone is different. These may not work for you and that's okay. Push yourself as far as you are comfortable and drop it if it's not working for you. This is another theater technique where you imagine the camera is someone you know. In this technique, you will pick 3-5 people you know. They can be a parent, a sibling, a friend, a coworker, an ex lover, anyone you want. The technique will work best if your choices are not too similar to each other. Don't for example, pick people who are similar to one another. Once you pick your 3-5 people, set a timer for 30 seconds and talk to the camera as if it's one of those people. When the timer is up, repeat with a different person in mind. Do this until you have used all the people you chose. If imagining the camera being a person feels weird to you or hard, that's okay. Just imagine instead, that the person will be watching the video you are recording. For example, let's say you choose these people. Mother, brother, boss, best friend, nosy neighbor. You can imagine that the camera is at that nosy neighbor or you can imagine that you are filming a video that you will send to that nosy neighbor. As you talk to the camera as if it were different people, be aware of how your performance changes. Explore how talking to your parent is different than talking to your best friend. How talking to your best friend, different than talking to your boss. Be aware of what changes about the way you speak. Identify which person you imagined that made you the most comfortable on camera. You can always use that imagination when you are filming your actual content to get comfortable. You still need to address your audience though. You just need to recall the comfort level from your practice when talking to your audience on camera. This is another fun exercise. Think of 3-5 intentions you want to use when talking to your audience. Write each intention on a small piece of paper, fold all the papers, and put them in a bowl. Think of one or two lines from your content outline. Now, randomly pull one paper out of the bowl. Whatever intention is on the paper, use it to say your lines. When you are done, pick another paper and repeat until you use all the intentions in the bowl. This exercise is to get you out of your comfort zone, out of your head, and to help you stop overthinking. It will also help you build confidence and comfort speaking in general and on camera. Here is another bonus exercise. Combine the first two exercises. Use the imagination game with the intentions hats. Randomly select one person and one intention. Then, say your lines. Make sure to speak all your lines on camera to get more confident and comfortable with it. Your activity for this lesson is just to have fun and play around with the practice techniques we discussed. Feel free to make your own adjustments or use additional techniques. This is the time of exploration and trial and error. Do what you need to do to feel prepared and to get familiar with the feeling of being on camera. Please feel welcome and encouraged to share your thoughts and feedback in the comments with other students. Community of learning is a great way to grow. In the next lesson, we will talk about overcoming the critic in your head. 8. Overcome Your Inner Critic: Overcoming the critic in your head. The most successful people still get nervous. The most experienced still battle self-doubt and criticism. Meryl Streep, one of the most successful and experienced actors said, "Give me a character and I am perfectly fine. When I have to be me, then I am 13 and my lip starts to wiggle." If you have a voice in your head constantly saying that you are not good enough, first of all, you are not alone and that voice is lying to you. I don't know if we can get rid of that voice completely, but I do know from personal experience that you can manage it and keep it in the background so it doesn't stop you from reaching your goals. Here are a few thoughts that have helped me manage that self-critical voice, and I hope they can be of value to you too. You have done your work, you studied, you practiced, you did your research, you just need to trust in the hard work you did and that it will pay off. If you didn't do any work, then yeah, that won't be good. Every time you get lost in self-doubt and criticism, reflect, redirect your attention and focus on your why. Why are you creating your content and helping others? Your why needs to be bigger than you and your fears. You are working towards a larger purpose. When we set unrealistic expectations such as I will succeed from the first time or I will get everyone to like me, we get disappointed and discouraged when these expectations fail. We need to set realistic expectations and understand that facing challenges is part of the journey. We don't like to fail. Everyone want to avoid failure at all costs. The truth is, not all failures are bad, some Some are great lessons that you wouldn't otherwise learn. A lot of the successful people in the world got stronger and reach their success because of the failure early in their lives. Have dreams, go big, but don't be afraid to fall, and if you failed, look for the lesson in that bigger time to process and pick up your left and keep going. Rejection is hard. We want everyone to like us. In reality, however, no matter what we say or do or who you become, we will never get everyone to agree with us. You can't and shouldn't try to impress everyone. If you try to impress everyone, you end up impressing no one and disappointing yourself. Don't try to be everything for everyone, focus on your values and your stories. Stay true to yourself and you will attract the right people to your life. It's okay for people to disagree with you as long as it's respectful because a difference of opinion can help you grow. You don't want only to hear the opinions that agree with you. As a content creator, you will get disrespectful comments. It's part of putting herself online. Do not be distracted by that. There are way more constructive and supportive people out there then the rude ones. If someone is disrespectful to you, that's on them. Feedback is so important for your growth. Be open to feedback and ask for it. Ask for what works and what doesn't work. As long as it's constructive feedback given with respect, take it and learn from it. Well, thank you so much for completing this course. I am so humbled you stayed with me till the end. I hope you feel empowered to overcome your camera fear and create content that will inspire others. If you have any questions or comments about the course, feel free to leave them in the comments section, and I will be happy to respond. Thank you and all the best to you.