I am not a naturally gifted speaker. I have worked really hard to improve as a communicator. One of the areas I had struggled in for a long time was speaking directly to a camera.

If you have spent many years speaking to a live audience, then speaking straight to a camera in an empty room is quite different. When the congregation laughs at a joke or is audibly engaged in the message, it builds my confidence as a communicator. It also gives me momentum as the sermon progresses. This all goes away when preaching directly at a camera.

There is no bubbling audience, no laughter, no response. It’s just me in a room with no people, talking to a piece of equipment. It can feel very awkward, but with time and practice, you can become quite good at it. I put together a few tips that have helped me improve dramatically when speaking directly to a camera.

#1 – Use a Teleprompter

Have you ever wondered why politicians, news anchors, or the guys on SportsCenter can talk so eloquently all the time? It’s because they use a teleprompter.

There have been many times where I forgot something important during the sermon. A teleprompter can be a powerful tool to help you say things exactly the way you want and never forget your notes again.

I know what you are thinking…

“A teleprompter sounds expensive or in the very least, technical to set up.” While that may be true in some cases, there are some really easy and cheap ways to use a teleprompter.

I use an app called, Smart Prompt. It’s a free app, but I would recommend getting the Pro version. It’s not that expensive and gives you the ability to use your phone as a video camera and teleprompter at the same time.

#2 – Practice Makes Preachers Better

I know this sounds cliche but the more you talk directly to a camera, the more comfortable you will be. I have a good friend who is a really dynamic communicator on stage, but if you get him in front of a camera he’s a different man.

The only way to get over this hump is to practice.

Here is an exercise for you: Spend an entire week just filming yourself talking to a camera. It doesn’t even have to be sermon related. It can be you hanging out with your kids, taking a walk, or cooking dinner. The point is, to get used to a camera being on you. Get comfortable with talking to something that does not engage back.

#3 – Don’t Force the Single Take

Some of the most popular YouTube personalities don’t record their videos in a single take. If you watch them, you can see where they have edited their videos and spliced them together. Does it dampen the content of video?

No. In fact, it may make them more effective because everything is precise and focused.

While you can’t edit your sermon from a stage, you can edit your content when using a camera.

So relax. Take your time, and get it right!

#4 – Good Lighting Goes A Long Way

Pastor Jim Rion once told me,

People understand what they hear, but they believe what they see.”

Great lighting can be the difference in whether the viewer is fully impacted by your message. If your eyes are hidden or there are shadows across your face, the message may not hit home as much as you intended. You may have said everything perfectly, but if they can’t see you clearly, then it is a missed opportunity.

The good news is, great lighting is not expensive, and sometimes it’s even free.

Sitting near a window can give you a nice soft glow that is easy on the eyes. If you are shooting outside, the sun just after sunrise and just before sunset is what photographers refer to as the “Golden Hour” for great lighting.

If you want to create a cheap studio set up at your house or your church, Sean Cannell put together a really helpful video on budget lighting. Click here to watch.

People UNDERSTAND what they HEAR, but they BELIEVE what they SEE.” – Jim Rion

#5 – Change Your Dynamics to Fit Video

Traditionally, most pastors speak from a platform where there is some distance between you and the audience. This dynamic has shaped our habits as communicators. When preaching, you need to be extra animated to get the point across. The people in the back of the room might not “feel” it as much if they can’t see you well.

But when preaching to a camera, if you are overselling your points because you are used to speaking in front of a live audience, it can come across like a used car salesman. Watching a video of you preaching directly to the camera already has a more intimate feel for the viewer. This means you can relax, and talk directly to the camera like you are actually talking to the person in a one-on-one conversation.

You wouldn’t yell for a one-on-one conversation so there is no need to do it when preaching to a camera. In a large room full of people, this is appropriate but when the viewer is sitting on their couch watching from their phone, it doesn’t connect as well.

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