Before you can run a marathon, you need to train first; In fact, you need to train a lot. And that is also true regarding being more authentic when appearing on camera. To have opportunities to show your authentic self, you must master your messaging and basic on-camera techniques first.

So, what are we talking about when focusing on on-camera authenticity? It can be something as simple as a smile, how you laugh, your unique sense of humor, or your way of sharing stories. All of these things make you who you are, however, bad timing or forcing any of these traits can send an unintended message or worse, the exact opposite of your intent. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind BEFORE putting your unique personality on -camera, on stage, or during a video interview;

Never “Act”.

An audience can quickly sniff out a “performance.” A general rule of thumb is never to show something you don’t normally do during a conversation. For example, my media training clients often ask what they should do with their hands during a TV interview. My answer is that if you normally move your hands when talking, you should do the same on camera. This will ensure your physical animation is perceived as authentic.

Master your message first.

If you have not yet mastered your messaging, doing so will make authenticity easier. You know the saying, never put the cart before the horse… before putting your personality on full display, you need to be able to deliver your key messages effectively. Additionally, you should be able to successfully handle negative questions and use bridging techniques to navigate difficult or controversial questions. If you have not, your attempts to be authentic will fall flat, as you will not be viewed as credible.

Take baby steps when trying to be funny.

Sarcasm doesn’t always translate during on-camera interviews. Your attempt at being funny could backfire and send the wrong message. Experiment with very small attempts first, and make sure the subject matter and timing make sense before you launch.

Rich Dubek is an Emmy award-winning TV news reporter and President of the Dubek Media Group, based in Tempe, Arizona. The Dubek Media Group specializes in video production, media training, and on-camera coaching.