I know you don’t want to hear it, but video is eating the world!
Video is everywhere. It’s taking over everything. Video even killed the radio star!
Vlogging; sales promo videos; skype; online video workshops; Facebook feeds; Youtube; Instagram; Facetime; webinars; Periscope; video conferencing. There’s no getting away from it.
At some point, you’re going to have to get comfortable giving a video presentation – even if you hate the way you look on camera and you cringe listening to the sound of your voice played back to you.
Fortunately, like most things public speaking, you can go a long way with some careful technique, eliminating silly mistakes, and good old fashioned practice.
To warm things up, how about a short clip in how not to do video. Take a minute to watch ‘Little’ Marco Rubio’s painful delivery of the official Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union address in 2013. It’ll make you feel better about your own struggles.
(Keep the FREE CHECKLIST – 19 Video Presentation Tips to hand for the next time you’re on camera)
So, now that you’ve had your own sip of water, let’s begin:
There’s basically three key aspects to giving a great video presentation:
- The Technicalities.
- What you say.
- How you say it.
So, you’re going to speak on video. Just pull out your camera or smartphone and start recording, right? Wrong!
Before you even think about hitting the record button, there are a whole load of technicalities you should sort out first.
1) AUDIO – Get a damn good microphone
As counterintuitive as it may sound, the single most important factor in a good video, is the audio quality. People will readily watch a shaky, grainy, amateur video with good sound, but force them to struggle to hear what’s being said and they’ll switch off in seconds.
A good mic is a great investment.
For video, a lavalier lapel mic is excellent as it sits close to your mouth so picks everything up strongly. I personally use the Rode Smartlav+ Lavalier Mic as it’s pretty cheap, plugs into my iPhone, but still gives good sound. For a USB mic to record straight to computer, I love the Blue Yeti USB Mic, which has great sound and a cool old school look.
2) ELIMINATE AMBIENT NOISE – Close the windows
Still on sound, you want to find a quiet spot to do your recording. Close all the windows, and ask your neighbour to turn the music down or suspend the lawn mowing whilst you record. You’d be surprised how much environmental noise gets picked up.
3) DON’T OVER WORRY ABOUT THE CAMERA
Despite the fact that people often get consumed by the type of camera to be used, this is actually one of the least problems you will have. Nowadays cameras are just so damn good you are almost always guaranteed to get decent HD footage.
I do all my recordings with my iPhone 6 and it’s sufficient for my needs. Any half decent smartphone, or camera, now records nearly as well as the highest spec video recorders of yesteryear. So, unless you need to shoot at Hollywood blockbuster levels, just find a camera that isn’t too old and consider that box ticked off.
4) LIGHTING – not overhead!
Do think about lighting.
Next to good audio, it’s another one of those big technicalities that can have a big impact on the quality of your video. (Amazon have some good options like this one)
Don’t put any lights or windows behind you. They’ll mess with the light levels on your video. Don’t stand under your room spotlights – especially if the top of your head gets really shiny like mine!
Go for bright, soft lighting coming from behind the camera to light up your beautiful face.
5) BACKGROUND – not just a white wall, please!
White walls are boring. Have something innocuous but discernible in the background. Don’t be afraid to show your natural environment e.g. bookcases, plants, painting – as long as they are not too distracting.
I love my podcasts and video blogs, especially anything done by Pat Flynn of the Smart Passive Income.
He does his videos in his office with books, pictures and files in the background.
6) FRAMING – don’t put yourself dead centre.
You may want to be the centre of attention, but don’t put yourself bang in the centre of your video. It’s a neuroscientific thing, but basically, you want to be slightly off centre to the left or right, rather than directly in the middle of the frame – again check out my man Pat above. He’s ever so slightly to the left of centre. It also leaves a nice space for any text overlay you want to do.
7) CAMERA HEIGHT – don’t show us the inside of your nostrils
Your frame should be slightly off centre, but the camera height can be dead centre.
Be careful of the angle though. The lens should either be directly level or be pointing ever so slight downwards towards your face.
Try to avoid the Blair Witch Project ‘up the nostrils’ approach.
It’s just not a great look.
So, those are the technicalities. Now for the sexier stuff.
(Did I mention the Checklist that goes with this article?)
WHAT YOU SAY
8) PREPARATION – yes, you’ve heard it before but I’m saying it again!
What can I say? If you take one thing from all my articles combined (though I hope there are other things of value that I’ve said), it will be this: PREPARATION. PREPARATION. PREPARATION IS EVERYTHING. Fortunately, I’ve got you covered with this handy checklist called the Ultimate Speech Preparation Checklist
Don’t start speaking til you know exactly what it is you want to say.
9) KEEP IT SHORT
If people are watching you on video, chances are they have many other distractions competing for their time and attention – that YouTube clip of the baby biting his brother’s finger; facebook notifications popping up every 30 seconds; that email from their boss that has to be answered.
Keep it short. Keep it engaging. If it’s going online, remember that anything longer than 3 minutes will experience a sharp drop off in audience viewing.
10) HAVE A POINT – the video will be around for eternity
Most speeches last minutes. Unless someone erases it, your video presentation will last a lifetime, so be sure to have a point to what you’re going to say or people will be watching your pointless video for generations to come.
Don’t ramble. Don’t waffle. Get to the point.
11) USE A STRONG STRUCTURE
However compelling the content of your speech, it will fall flat if it is not set within a strong structure that carries your audience towards a strong climactic conclusion.
And, you guessed it, here’s a Speech Structure Checklist to help you work out a great structure for your presentation.
12) SIMPLE WORDS
Video is no place for tongue twisters so use short simple words.
(Keep the FREE CHECKLIST – 19 Video Presentation Tips to hand for the next time you’re on camera)
HOW YOU SAY IT
In the iconic scene of one of my favourite films, Broadcast News, journalist Aaron, finally gets the chance he has been angling for his entire career, to present as a news anchor. What follows is movie gold, as he nervously sweats his way through the news segment to learn that there is a vast difference between writing and presenting.
Here are the things to consider about how you present on video.
13) WHAT YOU WEAR
No need to over-worry about what you wear as long as you avoid some basic mistakes. Don’t wear stripes or overly bold patterns (they look odd on camera). Don’t wear clunky jewellery. Do try to match your appearance to the impression you want to project about yourself i.e. dress formally if trying to convey a sense of professionalism; dress down if trying to look casual.
I don’t know enough about makeup to say what you should or shouldn’t do about it. If you suffer from shiny head and shiny face syndrome like me, then some powder apparently will dampen that down – never tried it personally despite my wife’s urging – so this is just what the internet suggests!
14) CONSIDER A TELEPROMPTER
How do you remember what you’re going to say? There are techniques you can use (as I’ve talked about before) but the great thing about video is that you can have an entire script in front of you, if you so wish.
I tend to forget my words when in front of a camera, so if recording at home, I love the Teleprompter app on my iPad, which just eliminates that particular worry.
Another trick I’ve used is to stick talking points up on a wall behind the camera in the right order to help keep me on track. And of course, there’s always editing if you are in charge of the video.
15) BE YOURSELF – only more
The camera is a microscope. It reveals authenticity and exposes fakeness. So be yourself, and no one else. But, be even more of yourself than you are in real life (if that makes sense). Dial it up a few notches so your true personality fills the screen.
Keep your energy levels up.
16) TALK TO THE CAMERA LIKE IT’S YOUR FIRST DATE
If memory serves me right (it’s been a very long time) you are on best behaviour on a first date, and you make every effort to look into the eyes of your date. Your own eyes are lively and smiley and you speak with an earnest intensity, as you try to interest and impress your date. (Ah, the fun of youth.)
You basically want to do that!
17) GOOD POSTURE – Sit up straight (like your mama told you)
What feels odd in person, looks good on camera.
Think about the way people pose for red carpet shots (like the ladies of the wonderfully uplifting Hidden Figures movie). No one stands like that in real life, but on camera it looks great.
Sit or stand straight, even if it’s uncomfortable. Don’t hunch over, don’t use odd angles.
I have sloping shoulders (again according to Mrs S) so when recording on camera I actually lift my shoulders up ever so slightly. It feels odd, even fake, but it works.
We are psychologically wired to be more accepting and attracted to symmetry. So aim for clear, straight lines where you can.
18) USE YOUR HANDS – but not too much
Movement is fine, but too much is distracting.
Don’t be afraid to use hand gestures (studies show that complex thinkers use more hand gestures). Just don’t over do it. The camera is a microscope remember. It amplifies everything.
19) PRACTICE. PRACTICE. PRACTICE
The other half of Preparation is Practice. There is no substitute for it.
Record yourself on camera and force yourself to watch it back (but leave a week between recording and reviewing it as you can’t be objective immediately afterwards).
Send it to a trusted friend and get their feedback. If you really want to go for it, give them a questionnaire to complete to get some dispassionate commentary e.g.
On a scale of 1 – 10:
How engaging was I?
How clear was my message?
How good was the sound?
How sharp was the video image?
How naturally do I come across on camera?
There you go! 19 Tips (and one Checklist)
Now, in case you are wondering whether I really do practise what I preach (and I seem to do a whole load of preaching), the answer is: I don’t! Got to be honest. No one gets everything right, however much we try. So here’s a video I recorded for a crowdfunding campaign I worked on for the charity The 100 Black Men of London.
Can you spot how many of the 19 steps I didn’t apply?