by Susan Murphy
Many people are hesitant to work with video, and understandably so. Video has the perception of being complicated, time consuming, and expensive. For many years, the world of television and video production was seen as mysterious, and best left to the pros.
The advent of inexpensive cameras like web cams and Flip cameras, along with easy editing tools like iMovie and Windows Live MovieMaker and free publishing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, have given even the novice videomaker the tools they need to get started with creating video. While there is a time and place to call in the professionals, the good news is, creating video is becoming more accessible to everyone than ever before.
Perhaps you are considering incorporating more video into your web presence, but you’re still a bit concerned about the amount of time, effort, and money it will take, and whether communicating in this way will ultimately pay off for your customers. This is where grabbing a few simple tools and experimenting on your own can come in handy.
Everyone has a story to tell.
Everything about you and your business is part of your story. Deciding how to best tell that story to your audience so it has the most impact is critical to being able to engage, inspire, and motivate. The written word is one way to do this, but sometimes, making that connection through face-to-face contactwith your audience is a good approach too. However, if you’re never done video before, it can be a bit daunting.
One way to get started with video is to just do a simple web video where you are talking straight to the camera, and sharing a few minutes of wisdom with your audience. The simplest way to do this is to create a free YouTube account. When you click the Upload Video button, you’ll have the option of recording via your web cam straight into YouTube. All you need to do is click record, say your piece, then fill in a title and description information and save. YouTube does the rest. You can then embed the video into your web site or post the link in your next email newsletter.
While posting a video may be easy, you do want to make sure that what you’re putting out there is the best quality possible. So here are a few pro tips to help you get the most out of your video efforts.
1) Keep it simple.
Your first video efforts don’t have to be feature films. Doing something very simple, such as a video book review or a couple of industry tips, can be a really effective way to share your story with others. Come up with an idea, and then get ready to hit the big red record button.
2) Plan what you’ll say, and practice it.
Before you do hit that record button, spend a bit of time planning what you’re going to say. Break your talk into a list, like “Top 3 Tips To Save Money”, and then practice it a couple of times before you start recording. But whatever you do, don’t read off a script. It doesn’t look natural and your audience may have a hard time believing you. Practice, yes, but talk naturally, as if you were in a conversation.
3) Quality is important.
You don’t have to be a professional videographer to have good quality video. Here are a few things to look out for:
Lighting – it’s really important to have good lighting, our your video will look grainy and dark. Make sure you’re in a well lit room. Natural light is best, so if you can position yourself next to a window (but not right in front of it, or you’ll look like a silhouette!), or at least turn on a few more lights in the room, that is ideal.
Sound – make sure you turn off all fans, background noises such as TV sets, and send the kids outside to play before you start. Background noise can be very distracting so try to get into as quiet an environment as possible.
Camera angle – put your camera lens as close to your eye level as possible so you are looking straight at it. If you are looking up at the camera, it can make you seem small and insignificant. If you’re looking down at it, it can make you seem intimidating. Eye level means you’re talking to someone on their level.
In the end, it’s all about trying new things. Give video a try, and see how it works for you. Eventually, you may want to call in the pros to help you produce something more extensive, with graphics, animation, music, interviews, or demonstrations. But you’ll be surprised what you can do with just a web cam and a great idea!
[photo credit: Thomas Hawk on Flickr]