I interview Grant Swanby, a producer, actor, and acting coach that has been in the industry for over 25 years. He’s the Academic Head at Act Cape Town Film Acting Academy, as well as the Producer at Haas & Kaas Productions.
We discuss overcoming performance anxiety in front of the camera, authenticity, how to “make love” to a camera, and his framework for communication: L(isten), O(bserve), V(alidate), and E(nthuse), or L.O.V.E for short. He provides some great insight and effective communication skills for business people who find the whole webcam thing a bit much!
Whether you want to be an actor or simply appear more confident on your webcam, Youtube videos or online meetings and conferences, there are a few important key factors to take into consideration that may help build your confidence in whatever virtual or online engagement you find yourself in.
Grant Swanby, producer, actor, and acting coach shares his tips on how to be confident in front of a camera. He starts with a simple acronym – L.O.V.E, provides some guidelines for effective communication skills, and gives his top 3 tips for anyone whose afraid of their webcam!
Share the L.O.V.E
In the acting world, it’s all about engagement or conversation, if you will. If it becomes one-sided, people are going to want to switch off, which is exactly what we don’t want in a virtual engagement.
That’s where L.O.V.E comes in:
L – Listen. Part of effective communication skills is really listening to what the other person is saying because when you start listening to them, then you understand what they know.
O – Observe. Observe body language, check if your audience or the person you’re communicating looks engaged. If not, start to engage them a bit more.
V – Validating. Make people feel like they’re a part of it. People want to be liked. They want to feel like they are engaged, they want to feel like they’re being heard.
E – Enthuse or Excite. Make the other person feel that they’ve gained something from your interaction, so they feel empowered to then move on and share whatever they’ve learned.
How do you overcome your anxiety or performance anxiety?
It’s a misnomer that actors or people that stand in front of the camera are completely confident. Everyone gets nervous. We feel self-conscious, scrutinized, and that people are going to laugh at us.
You may think your anxiety levels are pretty high, but you’re probably at the same level as most people. If you have severe stage fright, and it’s impossible for you to get up and speak well, go and see a professional about it, like a psychologist or a hypnotist, it really does help.
Don’t make it about yourself. Make it about whatever it is that you’re doing, the subject matter, or the people that you’re talking to, that helps, and is probably the best thing to do, other than breathing exercises, and don’t forget to make it about your audience.
What are the secrets to making love to a camera?
It’s about being okay with who you are because it feeds into our self-consciousness negativity about ourselves. Stop judging yourself all the time, and be okay with who you are. People don’t care what you look like. They want to know what you’ve got to say, sell, or share with them. And that’s what’s important.
In online meetings, how do you get maximum engagement from a customer, client, colleague, or a group of colleagues?
If your audience feels that you’re being honest and authentic, then you’re going to have buy-in. If you don’t, you’re never going to have it.
How can you easily change your state to become more energetic, sad, angry, or happy?
Take a good look at the way you think, what makes you think that way? Find out what your triggers are, and you can start to deconstruct your behaviour. Whether you grew up as an only-child, or had parents who fought, were alcoholic, or religious, you can use all these experiences. You may even gain from it from a self-improvement perspective.
What should the ‘size’ of your performance be for a webcam?
With regards to the calibration, I think if you go for the honesty part. You will automatically reach the optimal ‘size’ for working on a computer, or for people watching the computer. When people are lacking the authenticity that they tend to hide behind their performance and they won’t get buy-in from whoever’s watching.
There’s a basic guideline you can follow regarding mid-shots, medium closeups, and extreme closeups – The general idea is that the more people you’re speaking to, the wider you should go with your shot.
Grant’s top 3 tips to master if you’re afraid of your webcam:
- Breathe. As soon as you start to get nervous, your breathing starts to become increasingly shallow. You start to hyperventilate and you can’t think clearly. Combat this by breathing into your stomach.
- Be authentic. Honestly believe what you’re talking about. Really communicate what you’re talking about with other people as a subject expert.
- Be enthusiastic. Be fun. Allow people to really want to engage with you, and hopefully, that’ll make you a more effective webcam host.