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Why you should ditch the script

October 1, 2015

The thought of standing in front of a camera, representing your business, the thing you pour your heart and soul into everyday, can be an intimidating thought. 

 

Safe to say, I have yet to have a client that is comfortable with and looking forward to being on camera in the promotional video we're filming for their business. 

 

While in theory, talking in front of a camera should be so much easier than speaking to a room full of people, more often than not, when the red "record" dot turns on, my clients find themselves struggling to form a cohesive sentence. 

 

To avoid the frustrating fear of "freezing up" many plan to use a script. Whether they want to try and memorize it, put it up on a board, or use a teleprompter, they find a sense of safety in the idea of knowing exactly what they're going to say beginning to end. 

 

In addition to avoiding the fear of a freeze, they also like to plan out exactly what words they're going to use to represent their business exactly how they want to. 

 

So here's my take, based on my experience in front of the camera as a reporter/anchor, to coaching clients from behind the camera.

 

Ditch the script. Don't even think about memorizing what you want to say and scratch the teleprompter.

 

Memorizing

 

Reach back to Speech 101 in college. When your professor only allowed you to bring up a few notecards with bullet points to give your prepared speech. Remember why? Because inevitably, if we have every word written down, we'll try to memorize it. Miss a word, get distracted by someone in the audience or just freeze, and you're completely lost, trying to figure out where you left off. 

 

In addition, memorizing causes you to sound less smooth and natural because you escape back into your brain trying to remember the exact order of your memorized sentences. 

 

Enough reasons to skip memorizing? Ok, let's move on. 

 

Teleprompter

 

Many production companies offer the use of a teleprompter as a way to smooth out your on-camera presentation. But this strategy is also fundamentally flawed. 

 

It's safe to assume the average business owner, does not spend much time reading from a teleprompter, if he/she has even read from a teleprompter before. Without practice, you'll look jerky and unnatural.

 

When I was a reporter/anchor, it took a lot more than two takes to look comfortable and natural on camera reading from a teleprompter. Broadcast news reporters and anchors spend careers perfecting their on-air teleprompter presentation, meeting with consultants and analyzing their shows to improve their performance. 

 

To think you can master it to a level that meets your satisfaction in one afternoon is unlikely. 

 

What's the solution?

 

So, now that I've attacked pretty much every security blanket you thought you could reach for for your upcoming shoot, what's my solution?

 

It's really simple! Ditch the script, say no to a teleprompter and work with a production crew you trust to make you look good and tell your company's story well and correctly. 

 

In my experience, clients are most natural when we've planned and discussed which points they want to touch on and I formulate questions to help them naturally answer them and touch on each important topic. 

 

When you're looking just off-camera at a real person, answering real questions, all of a sudden that temptation to freeze begins to fade. 

 

Everyday you share about the great work you're doing with people; calmly, smoothly and confidently. When we replicate that as closely as possible, our clients find greater success and happiness with the finished product. 

 

As a side note for emphasis, it's important to trust the production company you're working for. When you have peace of mind that they are going to communicate your story effectively, you'll be willing to step back and let them help you sound smooth and natural on air.

 

While it can be intimidating to film a video for your business, there are ways to put your mind at ease and make sure you are happy with the outcome. 

 

So remember, ditch the script, skip the teleprompter and talk to your producer about your company just like you would anyone else. 

 

 

by Carrie Highman

Owner, Dream Lens Media

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