Written by Katie Freund and Karlene Dickens, ANU Online
In Part 1 of this coffee course in August, we discussed the value of lecturer-created videos as a strategy to build a sense of social presence and engagement within courses, and at how mobile devices can be used to create quick and effective video introductions. Much of the discussion involved the challenges of being comfortable on camera. In today’s post, we will build on these previous topics and look specifically at the practicalities of filming yourself, and share techniques you can use when presenting on-camera.
Planning your recording
As with anything, a bit of careful planning before can go a long way. Before you start recording, you’ll need to think about what you’re about to film and what is needed. Here are some of the key issues you’ll need to think about before you start the camera.
What will you say?
Depending on your presentation and speaking style, you may want to write a full script or notes with dot points. We’ll look at speaking style below, but in your preparation make sure you have sufficient information to cover all you want to say and stay on topic. It’s a great idea to practice at least once without the camera, and then once or twice with the camera, before attempting the final version.
Where will you film?
The environment, space, and framing of the video help set the tone for the type of video you are making. In previous coffee courses we’ve experimented with a few different styles for our videos, from more casual videos filmed in our offices (with notes as a helper only) to more formal videos filmed in a studio (using a teleprompter and a complete script). When choosing a location, consider if it is appropriate to the context of your video. Also, a well-lit space (preferably with some natural light) that is quiet with limited background noise is essential.
How do you look?
Obviously none of us are professional actors, but it’s important to feel comfortable with your video so that you can use it in the future. Wear something comfortable and that is appropriate for the type of video. For example, if you are appearing “in the field” you might be dressed differently than if you were in the office. Generally speaking, complex patterns or prints can be distorted on camera, and extremely bright colours can affect the camera’s colour balance. Jewellery or accessories can be distracting to the viewer. (There are great examples in this video: What colours to wear on camera.)
Using the right equipment
There are three dimensions to filming effective video: audio, video, and lighting. Here are a few things to consider before you film.
A quiet space is key. Reduce background noise by turning off fans or air conditioners, closing windows, and putting up a “do not disturb” sign on your door. The built-in microphone on your webcam or mobile device is acceptable if the space is very quiet, but consider investing in a separate microphone if you plan to do a lot of filming. Good quality audio can make a world of difference!
Most mobile devices and webcams usually capture high-definition video. Use a tripod if you are filming with a mobile device to prevent shaky videos, and avoid zooming in with the device’s camera as this reduces the quality of the image. Either move closer or zoom in during the editing process.
A brightly lit room is essential, and natural light is recommended wherever possible. Find a spot with clear and bright light near a window if you can. Try taking a picture of yourself in the spot where you want to film to see how well it is lit on camera before you start. Lighting from more than one angle can help reduce shadows.
A few small changes can make a significant difference to your video, as seen in the example below. These are all small changes made quickly right before filming.
Presentation and speaking style
In the video below, Karlene will talk about how to engage with the camera and provide tips on speaking style and body language.
View the transcript: Video recording.
Dealing with the awkwardness of being in front of the camera
It’s natural for many of us to feel self-conscious and awkward when we start recording on video and when we see ourselves on camera – as illustrated so well in this video: The science behind why no one likes to be on camera.
Some strategies to help reduce the awkwardness are:
- Practice – practice what you are going to say and how you are going to say it, practice with the equipment, practice in the location you plan to use. Record a few takes until you feel prepared, familiar with the equipment and what you are going to say.
- Record more videos – the more videos that you do over time, the more comfortable you will be.
- Smile and breathe.
- Focus on the narrative, the story and your target audience rather than yourself – this video explains this concept well.
- Keep hydrated.
- Try some warm up vocal exercises – (yes really!) such as shown int this video: Warming up your speaking voice. Or for a more light-hearted view watch this Vocal Warm Up.
- Read this for more ideas on how to present.
- Watch this video for tips on what to do with your hands on camera.
- Read this for tips to create engaging training videos.
Get expert advice and hands-on practice being on camera with this special training with ANU’s public affairs team, SCAPA. Join us Friday, 8 September from 12pm – 1pm in SCAPA’s professional media studio to learn presentation skills. You’ll get a chance to experience being filmed and get friendly advice on how to improve. RSVPs are essential. Please email Karlene.Dickens@anu.edu.au to join us.
Share some examples of presenters that you admire, whether it is colleagues, television presenters, conference keynote, or TED Talk. What makes them a good presenter?
Like everything, practice makes perfect. Try filming yourself! How did you find the process? Share your experiences in the comments. Did these tips help? We would love to see your videos if you are comfortable, and encourage everyone to provide constructive, friendly feedback as part of our learning community. Otherwise, ask a colleague, family member, or friend to give you some feedback.
Presentation and speaking style – (Version 2)
A colleague viewed Karlene’s video above, and provided some constructive feedback which Karlene incorporated into a new video using the same script.
Take a look, and consider what differences there are between this video and the first one that Karlene presented – particularly in terms of presentation and speaking style.
Production Notes on Today’s Videos
As part of making the video process more transparent, we’re going to share some reflections on the videos we make – as we did in Part One. The two clips above were filmed in the ANU’s One Button Studio in Chifley Library and Karlene practiced memorising the script beforehand. The original footage was edited using Premier Pro on a PC, although Camtasia would be better for quicker editing and for new users. For each video, the whole process in the studio took about 40-50 minutes to prepare and film (with multiple takes recorded and checked before deciding on a final version), and then another 20-30 minutes to edit and put on YouTube (and we are relatively familiar with video editing).