Don't think you got what it takes to be beautiful on camera? Not everyone is! Look at these tips and tricks on how to get your face (or at least your message) on video and not scare the children.
Tip #1: Plan Your Content
I worked for over 30 years in marketing, including writing and producing ads for TV. Although being spontaneous on camera can be fun, sometimes it just doesn't work to "wing it" and you can end up with an awkward presentation. Better yet, prepare what you are going to say ahead of time! Also, practice it so you won't just be reading it off your teleprompter, computer, or notes. (Although there are some apps out there that put your notes in front of you on your phone while you're filming, so you might want to try those). There is nothing worse than knowing someone is reading a script, though. That's where a little bit of acting, and maybe even a bit of improvisation, comes in. You want to look natural but you also want to get your message out there in a clear, concise way.
Tip #2: Watch Your Background
We've all seen those posts with the hysterical background flubs - the business woman on Zoom who has the naked boyfriend walking by in the middle of the meeting; that "questionable" object in that selfie; and let's not forget that romantic wedding photo with the dog doing his business in the backdrop!
While those images will get laughs, they definitely won't get you clients and students who respect your work as a professional.
There are a number of ways to get around the bad background mistake. For really professional videos you should simply set up a great "set" similar to a TV studio. This could be simply a desk, a couple of photos on the wall, and maybe a plant and a computer. The key here is KEEP IT SIMPLE. Nobody likes watching a video with lots of clutter in the background - it's just confusing and takes away from what you are presenting. Also, shy away from putting awards and lots of accolades behind you on the wall. Nobody is really that impressed by where you went to college or what awards you've garnered in the past.
Don't have a spare room to set up a good background? No worries. You can simply film yourself against a solid-colored wall or use a Green Screen and we can edit in a background for you. We have a number of really cool backgrounds ranging from fancy offices to homes you would die for.
You can also record yourself on Zoom and choose a background, but make sure you use that solid, light color or Green Screen, otherwise you will experience what's known as "disappearing syndrome" when the Zoom background swallows you up (which is really hilarious if you've ever seen your Zoom friend suddenly lose their arms and head when they move too fast - okay, maybe that's just macabre, but I think it's funny).
Tip #3: Get Yourself Some Decent Equipment
There's nothing more annoying than watching a video where someone is bouncing all over the place because they're holding their camera and you can't even make out what they're saying. But, you can't invest thousands of dollars in pro-quality video recording equipment. So, how do you get started on a budget?
First off - you don't need to invest a ton of money in a pro camera. Your smart phone will usually do just fine, just make sure you have a solid tripod so you aren't bouncing around on camera. The biggest mistake I see course creators make is using the microphone off their camera, though. A camera mic has a tendency to record at very low levels and your voice turns out sort of fuzzy-sounding, plus it picks up everything in the background, including the neighbor's annoying dog barking at the UPS man.
I recommend those getting started to invest in a "bundle" of newbie video equipment. You can easily find these on Amazon by just typing "video recording bundle" in your search bar. A good one is the Movo VXR10 bundle, which includes a tripod, phone grip and portable microphone and is priced under $100 at the writing of this blog. There are many others too, some including ring lighting and other great stuff that will make your videos awesome!
Which brings us to...
Tip #5: Put Yourself in Your Best Light
I love getting on a Zoom with people and they have their kitchen window behind them with the sunlight glaring. It puts them in a black silhouette and makes them look like they're in the witness protection program! While it's fairly obvious you need the light in FRONT of you, not behind you, there are some other tips you should know. First off - ring lights are awesome. They sell tiny little ones that clip directly on your laptop of phone, all the way to great big ones that stand over in the corner of your room on a tripod. I like the ones that allow you to adjust the different levels and types of light, so you can go from dim to bright and different hues of color in an instant. What light works best? Practice filming yourself in your home studio and decide. Avoid flourescent lights at all costs - they will make you look yellow! Again, Amazon has some great deals on lighting kits starting at about $25.
Tip #6: Film Yourself in Small Segments
I once read where the average person has a 3-minute attention span. When I used to make commercials, of course we kept them at 30-60 seconds, not just because the client couldn't afford more air time, but because it's widely known that short pops of information work better than long, drawn-out, boring explanations that put you to sleep. For my clients, I recommend videos no longer than 3 to 4 minutes, max. It's better to chunk a bunch of short videos together than film one long one. Or, if you want to film in one long clip, we can take that raw video and clip it, or add text or animation to make it more fun. View My Work for examples of this.
Tip #7: Not a Hemingway? Hire a Copywriter or use AI
While you're wanting to be as natural as possible in front of the camera, if what you're saying goes round and round in circles or makes no sense whatsoever you will lose your audience. That being said, a canned speech doesn't work well either. So, where is the middle ground?
We already talked about planning your content in Tip #1, so I won't repeat myself but I have to drive home that if you're just not a great content writer you need to HIRE one. In broadcasting we never went on air without a script. There are some amazing copywriters out there that can make your pitch (or class) sound like gold, and your students can move from module to module with ease and understanding. Our copy writers can take your course and shorten, lengthen, and just generally punch it up so it sounds like you've been doing this your whole life!
Also, AI is pretty amazing and can write great copy for you with just a couple of suggestions on your part. Try Bing AI for free and see how you do!
Tip #8: Hate the Way You Look? There are Solutions
Okay, ladies. Let's get down and dirty here. When I'm reviewing a video for a client, the absolute worst thing I hate to tell them is, "Honey, you've got a great course here. But you just don't have a face (or personality) that the camera loves." They usually hang up the phone at that point and immediately call their plastic surgeon.
I'm not trying to be mean. While I appreciate authenticity, some people just shouldn't be in front of the camera. It's not just looks - it's presentation, poise, and a ton of other little nit-picky things that go into being your best on camera. When I was in broadcasting we often used spokesmodels in our commercials. That can be a bit pricey, not to mention your clients want to see you, not someone who looks like they popped off a magazine cover.
So how do we handle that? Easy - we use slides. We feature a short welcome video with your face, even you petting your dog or playing with your kid if you really want to put that personal touch on it. Then, we switch to slides for your presentation. Slides can be fun, bouncy, and even include random photos and videos to really snazz them up. With advanced video editing techniques it's easy to pop in slides in your courses, and then you can poke your pretty little head in there from time to time and introduce the next module!
So, those are my 8 Tips for Making Better Videos. As always you are most welcome to contact me with any questions, comments, or a bit of advice. I also offer a FREE (notice that word - FREE) 1-hour video review and consultation where I will be blatantly honest with you, kind of like that old friend that you always call for advice because she's the one who will be a straight shooter. This is over 30 years' of video making experience too, so I may have something more to offer than that great friend!
Contact me today!