First of all, don’t listen to the so-called experts who advise you not to watch yourself “if it makes you anxious or nervous.” Baloney. Even after speaking as a pro for years, I’m always amazed at how much I learn by watching videotape of myself. In fact, videotaping yourself at home with no audience can have at least three major benefits:
1) When the camera is rolling and you’re trying to make eye contact with the lens, it’s a pretty good simulation of speaking to an actual audience, because you know you’re being recorded and feel a little pressured to do the best you can. Feeling pressure of any kind at this stage is exactly what you want so it won’t be a totally alien emotion when you deliver your first speech.
2) Every time you do your speech or even parts of it, you’re getting more familiar with the material, so your videotaping sessions become valuable rehearsal time. You’ll be thrilled at how quickly some parts start coming naturally to you, and you’ll start improvising, finding better ways to say something or even more effective stories to tell. Really, it’s amazing how the act of speaking gets your brain moving in a creative direction, i.e., “Oh, yeah! That reminds me of the inner tube story! That’d be great right here!”
3) And last but probably most beneficial: Like me, you’ll probably be amazed at what you learn when you watch yourself. Do you remember the first time you heard your recorded voice? If you’re like me you were stunned! “That’s not me! It can’t be!” I thought I sounded like Johnny Cash, when in fact I sounded more like Barney Fife! It was an eye-opener, and watching yourself can be enormously beneficial and cut days and weeks off your learning curve because you’ll see things to correct that would never even occur to you unless you saw yourself on tape. For example, it’s very common for inexperienced speakers to talk too fast because they’re nervous and want to get it OVER with. Watch the video and see if you’re talking so fast that you’re jumbling your words and looking frantic. Also, use the tape to TIME your performance so you’ll know if it’s in the parameters you want it to be in. If you’re supposed to give a half-hour talk and are done in ten minutes, somebody’s going to be disappointed—not a good thing.
Even more helpful than recording yourself in the basement, of course, is videotaping a speech in front of an audience because it’s the real deal. Watching yourself might make you squirm, even embarrass you, but that’s a good thing because it means you’re spotting mistakes to eliminate or weaknesses to work on. You’re learning something and getting better, and the better you get the more confidence you have. And obviously, if stage fright is an issue, the more confidence you have the better chance you have of ridding yourself of that horror.
You’re also going to need videotape of yourself in action as a marketing tool later. To see a short video on getting video of yourself,