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Understanding Why You’re Uncomfortable on Camera and How to Overcome It

behind interior design digital marketing for interior designers how to create a personal brand marketing tips for designers tips on being on camera tips on video content Jun 14, 2023
how to overcome your fear of being on video

I recently published a new guide on getting started with videos for interior designers. As I created the content for that free guide, I thought about what keeps us from creating videos. I am going to be honest; it is nerve-racking. Guess what. You are not alone if you are uncomfortable in front of the camera. There is a perfectly good reason for this discomfort, and it is a psychological condition called cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is the perception of contradictory information and its impact on our psyche. In other words, what you think you look like in your head and what you actually look like on video are completely different. Therefore your brain freaks out a bit. As a result, we often change our behavior or shy away from the task. In reality, we bring those two contradictory situations closer together to help reduce our mental stress. 

 As a young child, I stuttered due to a hearing problem I had as a toddler. My parents sent me to specialists to help me; however, recording my voice and listening to it helped me speak more clearly. Though I occasionally stutter, especially after a glass of wine – or two- listening to my voice and practicing helps me.

I remember being completely freaked out when I heard my voice on the tape recorder – yes, it was the 80s; give me a break; we didn’t have cell phones. I didn’t recognize my voice. Fast forward to 2020, and suddenly, I saw myself on camera, and again, it was a mind-blower. How I thought I talked and gestured during meetings and class lectures was completely different than what I thought. I end up watching myself rather than focusing on the lecture or meeting. Please tell me you do that too.

The problem is that cognitive dissonance can cause some people to shy away from recording themselves on video. But, as an interior designer, video is important if you are trying to grow your career or business.

If this is a psychological condition, then how do we overcome the anxiety it creates for many of us. Theoretically, we want to bring those two views and align them more closely. This is done in four different ways.

  1.  Change the behavior
  2.  Justify or accept the behavior
  3.  Justify the behavior by adding new behaviors
  4.  Ignoring or denying the conflict

Changing the behavior might mean eliminating your hand gestures and keeping your arms to your side. However, those hand gestures you didn’t know you did allow the viewer to engage in what you are saying. It is a sign of expression.

We can justify or accept the behavior. Instead of beating ourselves up for the hand gestures, we look at them more positively. For example, if you watch Ted Talks, often the speaker isn’t just standing there, not moving around or using their hands and body to tell a story. If they did, we would be bored. So instead, we accept the idea that these movements help tell the story. It is the same with you.

The third way is to justify the behavior by adding a new behavior. For example, I talk fast; I didn’t think so, but apparently, I do. When I first started teaching, a couple of students mentioned that they were struggling to keep up. When I see myself on camera, I notice I speak a bit fast. I now make a cognitive thought on slowing down. I also take deep breaths between key ideas to allow the information to digest before I move on. It feels awkward to me; however, it helps the student process what I am teaching.

The last option is to ignore it as if it doesn’t exist. I could just not watch the video after I recorded it and then deny there was a problem. However, how will I get better if I don’t continue to evaluate and adjust?

In the “Getting Started Creating Video Content” guidebook, I give tips on preparing yourself to be on camera. I encourage you to download it, as there is a lot of other great information to help you get started with video content.

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