Recording videos and vlogs can be an uncomfortable experience for a lot of people. There’s no doubt about it that presenting on camera is a skill. And because it is a skill it can be something that you can learn. One of the deciding factors as to whether someone looks good on camera is how “natural” they appear to other people. Sounding natural is something that can be practised but it is actually not about acting the way you would normally act or talk- there are a lot of tricks on how to sound natural on video.
Here’s we’ll go through all of the things I have learned from over 300 daily vlogs posted to LinkedIn and YouTube.
Sounding natural on camera is a mixture of acting natural and then acting so that you appear natural. Becoming aware of what you need to do to sound natural will come from watching recordings of yourself and others to work out how best to move and speak to look natural. It’ll take a bit of time to find out exactly what works for you but smiling, pace and intonation all play a role in making yourself sound as natural as possible on video!
Use these approaches as a guide to find out what works for you. Ultimately there will need to be a learning process where you’ll find out what works and doesn’t work for you.
Take the time to review the videos you create and think about what worked and didn’t work. I know that it can make you cringe, lot’s of people don’t like the way they sound or look on camera, but it is going to be this level of brutal honesty that will enable you to get better and look more natural on videos that you produce!
So let’s start with the big one:
Don’t read from a script
Actors train for years to transform a script, and words written bu other people, into engaging and natural-sounding dialogue. Unless you want to train as an actor you probably don’t want to rely on a script to guide your video.
Instead of a script create a series of points that you want to hit and the order that you want hit them. This can be considered more like a map than a script.
This map will help you navigate through the video and allow you to speak like you normally would if you where speaking with a friend, colleague or client.
If you must script every single word – then you need to memorize the script and read it aloud as if they are your own words. Reading something becomes immediately obvious to the person watching.
It can feel like the “right” thing to do – especially if you are nervous about talking on camera. But be warned – you’ll end up sound much less natural than you think you do!
Move more than usual
This one is a tricky one to grasp until you have seen the results of moving as you normally would captured on camera.
The truth is that moving naturally on camera is actually not about emulating what you do naturally while not recording. Looking natural on camera actually requires you to move more than you typically would. ‘
In my experience, it is somewhere between moving like you would on stage for a big production and moving like you are talking to someone across the road. I hope those two reference points are as clear to you as they appear to me while writing this article.
Moving your head a little more while you speak, using your hands to punctuate what you say is really important if you are going to look as natural as you sound.
It isn’t going to feel natural – and that is the point.
Speaking on camera reduces the magnitude of movement that the audience perceives.
The only way to get a feeling for how much you should move is to do a trial run. Record some trial footage where you move as much as you do when you are moving normally. Then up the movement by 50% and watch the difference it makes to your footage.
You’ll quickly get a feel for what makes you look natural – and what makes you look like you are performing Shakespeare at the globe theater!
Record your voice well
OK, make sure that you get some professional (and I don’t mean expensive, necessarily), audio equipment to record your video.
Having great quality audio means that you don’t have to worry about talking loudly to the point that it is like shouting!
There are a few options for capturing the sound of your voice but I think that laving a lavalier microphone or shotgun microphone are the best options when recording video.
Here’s a quick run down on both sorts:
Lavalier microphones are known by a range of other names: lav, lapel mic, clip mic, body mic, collar mic, neck mic or personal mic. They are a great way to get close to the source of your sound and reduce environmental sound!
They are a small wired microphone that is clipped on to clothing normally on the chest or neckline of the person speaking. The cord can be hidden in the clothing and given that they are quite small they can barely be seen!
To improve the sound captured by the lavalier microphone they are normally shipped with foam microphone covers and/or a furry cover for high wind situations.
Getting the best from a lavalier microphone
There are a few techniques for getting the best sound possible from your lavalier microphone:
- Wind guard – use a wind guard as it will help reduce the distortions caused by wind. If it is really windy consider using a furry microphone cover. It’ll change the sound a little but it is better than the rumble caused by the wind!
- Avoid fabric rubbing against the microphone – The biggest issue I have encountered when using a lavalier microphone is the sound of clothing fabric against the microphone. Mount in a place where there is not a lot of fabric moving around!
- Chest mountain makes it base-y – As a general rule, placing the mic on the sternum will give you a nice balance of close proximity and natural sound reproduction.
- Turn the mic upside down – When placing the lavalier on the chest area, mount it upside down inside the mic clip. This will reduce plosives (the wind produced when saying hard T, P and B sounds), which can cause distortion and clipping – where the audio maxes out the levels.
Now let’s have a look at the other style of microphone – the shotgun microphone.
Shotgun microphones are not as scary as they sound. Shotgun microphones are long and the shape helps capture sound from only one direction.
It is not as easy as the tube simply blocking unwanted sounds from entering the microphone. All shotgun mics use a standard directional long tube with a hollow, slotted surface. Known as an interference tube.
The idea of the interference tube is that the wanted on-axis sound passes straight down the length of the tube to the capsule diaphragm unobstructed, but the unwanted off-axis sound has to reach the diaphragm by entering the side slots. Since this unwanted sound will enter multiple slots, and the distances from those slots to the diaphragm vary, the off-axis sound will arrive at the diaphragm at different times and cancel one another out. This type of interference is used in sound reduction headphones too. Canceling out the sound using sound arriving at different times!
For an android device, the tube isn’t super long but still does the same job. Here’s how you can get the best sound from your shotgun microphone if you decide to buy one for your android device.
Getting the best from a shotgun microphone
There are a few techniques for getting the best sound possible from your shotgun microphone:
- Point it at you – the microphone needs to be pointed to the source of the sound.
- Get it close but out of the path of your mouth – no more than 10″ / 20cm, no closer than 3″ / 75mm.
- Mount it from above or below, if you can – detaching it from the camera and getting it pointed at your chest from above or below is best.
- Be in an environment that has lots of soft furnishings – (to reduce echo), such as a bedroom. Carpet and curtains, are important. Never record audio in a kitchen or bathroom (hard surfaces create more echo, which sounds terrible).
- When recording, watch the VU (Voulme Unit) meters – they should be peaking at around 0dB (ie, when you say the loudest part of the sentence, they should flick up to 0dB, but be below 0dB otherwise).
Here’s a video that can really help you get the best audio from your shotgun microphone:
Help your voice sound natural on camera
Intonation of your voice
To discover an appreciation for the way that people use their voice you must listen to expert speakers and listen carefully to how they are using their voice to show emotion and express themselves.
This video is for people leaning English but is a really nice insight into and explanation of finding the pitch variation in your voice.
This is about understanding what emotions are coming across in as you are speaking, whether you intend them to or not.
If you want to work out how to sound natural on video you need to have a deep understanding of the emotions that you are trying to convey while you are talking!
This is about practicing all the areas that you voice can cover – it’s like an instrument and it’ll get better with practice.
Vary the speed of your voice
A lot of people, myself included, talk fast when they are excited. In fact, talking fast when on camera is common because filming is actually quite exciting!
But using your voice to back up the
When to change your speed:
- Fast: indication of passion, urgency, excitement, and emotion.
- Slow: indication of importance, sadness, confusion, the seriousness of a point or the introduction of new ideas (use to help the audience grasp what you are saying)
When you speak quickly it can be very exciting for an audience but if it goes on for too long – it can quickly become overwhelming and disorientating for an audience.
Speaking slowly will also grab the attention of an audience, at first. But if you are speaking slowly for a long period of time it will simply bore the audience.
We’ve all been there – right?
The trick is to mix it up!
Keep most of your talk in the natural speaking range but add emphasis my going faster or slower at ket points during your recording so that you draw an audience’s attention towards an important take-home message.
It can be daunting to just start talking to a camera. Bit smiling help remove the uncertainty that you may be feeling – it adds a friendliness to your voice and a confidence that an audience member can feel.
Just keep in mind if the topic is sad – you shouldn’t be smiling through it. Use your best judgement – but if in doubt keep that smile turned on and you’ll feel much more confident!
Get moving before filming
The final tip is to move a little bit before talking! It really helps you get up the energy and feel like you are getting ready for something important!
Tony Robbins bounces on a mini trampoline before going out on stage to speak to his hundreds of audience members.
Do a little jog, jump up and down or moving in some other way will really help with your energy when needing to move more and speak in an engaging manner!
there are all of the ways of how to sound natural on video!