Maybe it’s just me, but it seems we all are increasingly busy, with shorter and shorter attention spans. Video is becoming the medium of choice for communicating a message, and generate compelling content on a website.
How can you be effective on video?
Your first decision is whether you will speak directly into the camera, or will film using an interview-style, where both you and your interviewer are shown on camera.
Speak into the Camera
This option works best if you want to connect to your audience, as if you are speaking directly to the person watching the video. You are having a conversation.
When you use this approach, make sure you continue to focus on the camera as the other party in your conversation. In face-to-face conversations, we often have a habit of looking away from our conversation partner briefly, so that our eyes don’t glaze over, or because we are concerned that we may stare down the other person. That brief moment of looking away does not translate well on camera, and has the effect of making you look nervous.
If you are not comfortable looking directly at the camera, a popular trick is to position a friend or colleague directly next to the camera, making sure their eyes are at the same level as the lens. You will still appear to be speaking to the camera, and you will feel more natural.
If you are filming yourself, place your camera on a tripod. Sometimes webcams are an alternative, but be careful – they are very close to your face, so your entire head may fill the screen, distorting your appearance.
Speak to an Interviewer
This is an ideal option if you want to show interaction, and works well for longer pieces to add more variety. You can structure your appearance as an interview or a conversation.
In this situation, think of the camera as eavesdropping on you. Since you are filming an actual conversation, your best bet is to ignore the cameras. If you have one camera, it will look awkward if you shift your focus between your conversation partner and the camera; the only exception is giving an opening and closing statement.
In professional environments and television studios, there are typically three cameras. The camera positioned in the middle takes wide shots that show you both, while the other two cameras each focus on you and your interviewer individually for close-ups. Ultimately, the director will decide which camera shot to air, and trying to follow the “red light” of the camera that is live is distracting, and will cause your head to jerk. Focus on your conversation partner.
Most of all: relax and enjoy the experience – and then share that video!
District 4 Toastmasters speak on cable access TV: http://www.d4tm.org/Newsroom/bay2bay.php