Of the three Cardinal Sins, the Third Sin is probably the most difficult to explain on paper, as video is a visual medium. But, if you don’t speak the ‘language of film’ you might find you connect with the audience…in the wrong way.
Body language, has been a subtle part of our private and managerial life for many years now. Being able to sneak a peek at the unconscious thoughts of the person in front of you by the way their body acts and reacts, is now fully absorbed into our everyday lives. How many times do you hear comments like, “He said he was fine but he didn’t look fine” or “She said it didn’t upset her, but you could see it in her eyes”?
More recently, Paul Ekman’s work on micro expressions http://www.paulekman.com/ has opened up a whole new dimension in what we’re really thinking. Tiny expressions lasting just 1/10th of a second, can completely give away our real, honest feelings.
Vocally, when in person, we tend to ‘hear’ if a person is being false. On-screen we rely on the talent of the actor or presenter to communicate authenticity and authority.
These are the most challenging aspects to overcome when working with non-professionals on video. Subtle facial movements or vocal hesitations can either bring your audience to tears or have them crying “bulls**t” at the screen.
The Third Sin: Bad Language
OK so we agree ‘bad’ language is both spoken and seen. To complicate matters further, if what you see is contradicted by what you hear (or know to be true), then your brain gets confused. When words and images don’t ‘match’, people’s ability to absorb information and react is compromised while they try and make sense of the conflicting information. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stroop_effect.
Why is this important? Well, if you tell your video audience you’re an expert, but have to read notes from beside of the camera – you’re a fraud! At best the audience begins to make assumptions about the veracity of your claims, at worst they’ll dismiss the video (and product) as fake and most likely switch off – literally.
So for you to portray yourself positively in a video, here are a few thing you might like to consider:
The right ‘Look and Feel’
- If you’re a progressive company don’t dress your people like Don Johnson in Miami Vice (even thought I loved the 80’s)
- ‘Sex doesn’t sell’ a video with only men in it, may suggest you don’t cater for women and vice versa
- Music: If you’re a fun company, use fun music, not a funeral march
- Visually, if you’re a fast paced company the video should reflect that with the shots you choose
- Your office is nice, but is that the right place to film?
Sincerity & Authority
- Know your product, so you (or your presenter) can talk about it with passion
- Scripts are in ‘spoken’ English not ‘written’ English. There is a difference, and if you’re not sure, get a writer to prepare one for you.
- Rehearse your script (lots) or use a prompter – looking off-camera to read your lines makes you seem insincere, and uninterested. (BTW Everytime you say ‘erm’ an angel loses it’s wings)
- Make sure your posture says you’re comfortable – if you fidget or bounce on your feet, you look ‘shifty’
- Keep your camera steady – wobbly iPhone videos are not cool. You don’t want you viewers suffering from ‘Cybersickness’
- Vertical videos are a sin in themselves, video images are wide not tall. (Don’t make me come over there and slap you!)
- If you don’t know how to do them properly, avoid video effects and green screen. Bad effects just look naff, and that makes you look naff.
- If the camera is far away from the subject, plug in a mic or record additional sound closer to the person on camera – If I can’t hear you I won’t listen!
- Throw some light on the subject – If I can’t see you…you get what I’m saying.
These are just a few suggestions that will make your videos look immeasurable better and help you speak in a language that your viewer will understand. The result will be, people absorbing the message of the video, not getting distracted by your wobbly camera work.
As we say in film circles “If people are noticing the camera, they ain’t lookin’ at the actor!”
These articles have been so well received that I’ve now been asked to create a training series, which will be available in January 2016. Contact me direct on email@example.com or @theguvnoruk to find out more.
In the meantime, I hope this whistle-stop lesson will help you get more from your videos, both in sales and views.
As always I’m happy to hear from readers, with comments or stories.
Visit our website at: http://www.guvnormedia.com
Written by Mark Alexander Todd