This is a ‘top tips’ guide to help you make better videos of yourself speaking to the camera. It’s aimed at those with little or no experience and who are using their phone or a simple-to-use camera.
I’ve split it into three areas: audio, video, and presentation. (I can cover basic editing and distribution of your video in a future blog post)
Did you know? Viewers will more likely put up with bad video if the sound (audio) is good, but they will never tolerate bad audio even if the video is amazing.
How do we avoid bad audio? Usually this is done with a microphone, separate to your camera, which will pick up good, clean audio (either plugged into your camera or sometimes recorded separately).
- If you don’t have an external microphone, then position yourself no more than one metre from the camera you’re using.
- If you want to film outside, try and avoid times when there is a strong wind as this can lead to distortion of the audio.
- If you are able to set the microphone levels, and you can see audio levels on your camera to adjust, then set the microphone to peak at about -6db.
What makes good video footage? There are many factors, but for starters try and think about: stabilisation, focus, lighting, and composition.
- If you have a tripod, use it. Steady shots are important as if the camera is shakey it can be distracting for the viewer. If you don’t have a tripod, then try and support your camera in another way, perhaps resting on some books or a table top. Don’t rely on a friend or family member to hold it steady – chances are they won’t be able to for very long.
- You may not be able to adjust the focus manually on your camera, so try and keep in the centre of the frame for good auto focus. Also avoid standing in front of strong, dominant light sources, which can confuse the auto focus and make you blurry.
- Don’t film with a window directly behind you as this can lead to silhouetting. i.e. you appear very dark (under-exposed), while the window is bright and washed out (over-exposed).
- Your camera will probably work best with as much light as it can have, so turn your room lights on for filming, but beware of opening curtains on a very sunny day as this can give your camera too much light and leave you over-exposed.
- If filming outside, avoid the middle of the day if the sun is out as this can cause strong shadows on your face. Film when it’s cloudy or overcast as this gives a nice, even light.
- Although filming with your camera in portrait mode is popular with the TikTok and Instagram generation, it’s usually best to film in landscape mode (the phone on its side).
- Try and keep the camera lens at the same height as your eyes. If you’re looking down at your camera it can seem a bit overpowering and intimidating to the viewer. Looking up at the camera can give an impression of nervousness. But when the camera is on eye line you can connect much better with your viewers.
- Try and think about what’s in the background to your video. Make it interesting but not distracting. If possible, position yourself about 2 metres in front of your backdrop as this will help you to stand out in the video frame.
- Make sure you’ve done some preparation about what you’re going to say. It’s not as easy as it sounds to ad lib to camera. Trust me. You can rely on a few notes, but try and avoid reading from a script. If you don’t have a proper autocue system, it will show.
- If filming on a phone or laptop, work out where your camera lens actually is and make sure you look at that primarily. It’s very easy to spot if you’re not looking at the camera and it makes you look remote and not connecting well with your audience.
- If you need to look at your notes when filming yourself talking, try and make deliberate movements from your notes to your camera lens. This gives an air of confidence to your presentation.
If you can put this all into practice, it will really help ensure your videos are accessible, and you are communicating with clarity.