This is the second in a series on adding video to your website.
The most obvious type of video is yourself (or someone else) speaking. But it isn’t the only way and in subsequent posts, I’ll talk about ways to create video without putting yourself on camera.
Scary? Or not?
Many people are hesitant to be on camera; they’re embarrassed at how they look or speak. But video of you speaking is the most powerful way to connect to your audience, whether you’re trying to change the world or just connect with potential customers. When people actually see you, they feel like they know you.
Even more powerful is live video, that is, streaming video of you in real time. But in this series, I’ll be talking about recorded video. The nice thing about recorded video is that you can try again and again until you get it right. Believe me, the videos you see of me on this website and my larger website were not my first tries! Even at that, they aren’t very polished, but are still effective for connecting with people.
Another helpful point is that the video doesn’t need to be long. A minute or two is actually best because people often don’t watch a video longer than that.
So, are you ready?
How to shoot video
You don’t need an expensive camcorder! I don’t have one and have never used one myself, although I’ve had a professional use one to videotape me. Know what? The results, in my opinion, weren’t better than what I did by myself. Maybe the quality of the video was better, but I was more concerned with how I looked and sounded and that’s up to you, not the camcorder.
But if you have a camcorder, by all means use it.
Use a webcam
The arrangement that I use most often is a stand-alone webcam on a tripod. Here’s what it looks like. My Logitech Pro 9000 webcam is quite good, both for video and sound, so I get the best results. Here’s what it looks like:
That wire is connected to a USB port on my computer. The video on my larger site’s home page was done this way.
Use a digital camera
Most digital cameras take video. You should use a tripod and stay close to the camera, because in most cases, the sound is not very good.
Use an inexpensive pocket camcorder
There are a number of inexpensive camcorders available. You should use a tripod. Here are some that are well rated on Amazon:
Technical tips for high quality video
Creating video isn’t hard. Usually, you just press the Record button. But here are some tips that will help you get the best results without becoming a professional videographer.
Use the highest quality your device has. If you can create HD video, that’s best. But 1080 HD (the highest you’ll generally find) isn’t necessary. It might even stutter on your viewers’ computers.
Most video is widescreen these days, but that isn’t really an advantage. You’ll need to make sure that only what you want to show is in the video. Put the camera close to you to avoid including unwanted areas of your venue.
Use a tripod. It doesn’t have to be a fancy one, but having a person hold the camera or webcam will result in unprofessional movement.
Shoot several takes. Then choose the best one.
Learn the settings of your tool. For a webcam, you’ll have webcam software and it will have lots of settings. Light settings are especially important. In my experience, the automatic light adjustment feature hurts more than it helps. For a digital camera, use the HD video setting if you have one.
Use lots of light. Dark video doesn’t look good! The easiest way to get good light is to film where you’ll get daylight coming through a window onto your face. That’s what I do. But if you can’t arrange that, set up some lights so your face is well-lit. You can also check out the light settings on your device.
Techniques for looking good
Everyone knows how to look into a camera and smile, but fewer people know how to create video that looks good. After all, we aren’t actors. Here are some tips for looking good on camera:
- Spend the time to make yourself look as good as possible. Comb your hair and wear nice clothes. Most women will want to wear makeup.
- Write out a script and practice several times. You don’t have to memorize it but you should be very familiar with what you want to say. If you tend to forget, you can tape a list of 2-3 points on the camera or tripod.
- Look directly into the camera. You’ve probably seen newscasters turn to face a different camera. When you look into the camera, viewers feel that you’re talking to them. It takes some practice to not move your eyes around. For example, when I’m thinking I look up.
- Smile when you start and end, unless that’s inappropriate for your topic.
- Speak in a lively manner. Modulate your voice and use your hands (even if they don’t show in the video). Speak strongly and passionately.
- Do several takes and watch the first ones to get an idea of what you might need to improve.
Just do it!
Go ahead and tape some video of yourself today! When the time comes to do it for your website, you’ll be more confident. Let me know how it goes!