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Loosen Up! Here Are 6 Ways to Get More Comfortable on Camera. Time is limited, and attention spans are short. Make a smart move, and use video to capture your audience and tell your story.

By Tami Brehse Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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As of the start of 2016, 65 percent of senior marketing execs cited visual assets, like video, as critical to telling their brand's story. What does that mean for you as a businessperson? It's time to get comfortable in front of the lens. Embracing video opens up a whole new realm of ways to reach your target audience, from media appearances to new social staples like Periscope. Here are six ways to feel more at home on camera.

Related: How To Make Your Business Messaging Effective In The Age Of Video

1. Don't wing it.

Even if you're the type who excels at flying by the seat of your pants, I beg you -- don't wing it the first time you're going to be on camera, especially if it's live. I've seen many a cool cucumber melt into a blubbering mess when a camera lens is shoved in their face, This can be avoided with a bit of preparation.

2. Wear something comfortable and camera-friendly.

If you don't typically wear a three-piece suit, it's probably not best to don one during your on-air debut. Wear what you're most comfortable in while still looking polished. A pressed button-down in a solid, jewel-toned color feels easy-breezy and looks great on camera.

Related: What to Wear When You're In Front of the Camera

3. Don't give the death stare.

Your natural instinct will probably be to stare directly into the camera lens. This is a normal urge, but it looks totally awkward if you never break your gaze.

Instead of giving the death stare, think of it as having a conversation with a friend. You'd make eye contact, but you wouldn't stare them directly in the eyes the entire time. It's the same on camera. There are natural breaks when you might look away from the lens as you speak or listen to someone else speaking. Practicing in advance will help make this feel more natural.

4. Go in with a game plan.

If you're appearing on camera for something pre-recorded -- say, a promotional video -- it might make sense to write and follow a script. But if you're being interviewed by another person or are appearing on live television, it makes more sense to go in with a basic outline of what you want to talk about rather than a word-for-word script. Your responses will sound more natural.

On an index card, write down five to 10 high-level bullet points with key words and phrases that will jog your memory of what you want to talk about. If you lose your train of thought, you can easily refer back to it and move on to the next point.

Related: Let Customer Get to Know You With Video

5. Don't be afraid to pause and collect your thoughts.

When appearing on camera, it's not uncommon to lose track of what you were saying or go down a verbal rabbit hole that leads nowhere. If this happens, try not to get flustered. Simply take a breath, collect your thoughts, and begin again from the next bullet point on your list. Any pauses in speech feel infinitely longer in your head than they are in real life, I promise.

6. Avoid the urge to pick yourself apart.

If you're not accustomed to seeing yourself on camera -- or hearing your recorded voice -- it's easy to be your own worst critic. Go easy on yourself!

The tiny quirks you notice about yourself are barely a blip on anyone else's radar. Plus, no one gives a flawless performance on their first on-camera go-round. Practice makes perfect, and with a few trial runs you'll be a video pro in no time.

Want more actionable steps for getting more face time on camera? Check out my new course on securing media coverage for your business.

Tami Brehse

Marketing Consultant and Blogger at TamiBrehse.com

Tami Brehse is a freelance marketing consultant who works with small businesses. Follow her blog about social media, public relations and all things marketing at TamiBrehse.com/blog

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