How to Look Great on Video

Jan 2014
video, camera, tripod
Photo credit: @__georgeyy

The average person watches 106 videos a month. That’s right, about 3 per day. Video is the fastest way to get noticed on the web or social media, and if you’re a business owner, it’s an important tool to connect with your target audience. Not only can you use video to explain or showcase your product, but it also helps your audience make an emotional connection with your brand. They can see you, hear you, and experience you in a way that they can’t just reading website copy.

So, once you’re ready to take the plunge and harness the power of video for your business, you don’t want to screw it up. After all, the only thing worse for your business than no video, is bad video. So, here are some tips to make sure you look your best on camera.

Set Up Your Shot

Professional videographers operate by what we call the ‘Rule of 3.’ When setting up a shot, you never want the subject of the shot (in this case, yourself!) in the middle of the screen. Instead, visualize dividing the picture up horizontally into thirds. The subject should be placed in 2/3 of the screen, leaving the other third to ‘breathe.’

This gives you a more balanced, pleasing shot for the viewer – and it also looks less like an infomercial.

Now that you know where to stand, you also need to think about how to stand. If you stand with your weight distributed between both feet, you will appear awkward and stiff. Instead, drop one foot behind you. This pulls one shoulder slightly away from the camera, and makes you appear more natural and less nervous.

Frame your shot so that your subject takes up a lot of the screen, vertically. You want to see yourself from mid-chest level up. Any more than that, and your face is far away from the viewer. There are times – for emotional impact – that you may want to shoot a much closer shot. (Especially if the subject is emotional, so the viewer can see and feel it.) But most of the time, mid-chest is close enough to see the subject’s face clearly, and far enough away that the camera won’t make your subject nervous.

At mid-chest level, your hands won’t be in the shot. However, if you use your hands a lot when you talk, they may fly up into the picture every now and then. This will be distracting for the viewer. Try bending your elbows softly, and touching the tips of your fingers together, about belt-level. That way, the part of your arms that the viewer sees in the shot looks nice and relaxed, but they won’t be distracted by your hands.

Dress the Part

Of course, you want to look your best on video. You are representing your brand, after all. You should always make sure your hair is neat, and your makeup is done if you wear it. Pretend you are going to a client meeting and want to put your best foot forward.

Dress in a way that fits your job. If you wear jeans everyday, don’t put on a suit for your videos. You’ll be uncomfortable, and it might seem strange to the viewer. Think about your brand – and dress in line with the image you want to project. If you’re always in professional attire at work, you don’t want to appear on camera in a T-shirt, you’ll hurt your brand.

There are some outfits that will work better on camera than others. Bright colors are always best; they brighten your face and draw attention to you. Think jewel tones – blues are especially nice. You want to avoid white, which washes you out, and black, which is too stark against your skin. Also, stay away from patterns. Large, bold patterns can be distracting and take the focus away from what you’re saying. Tiny patterns don’t always read well on camera – they can look blurry or fuzzy. Solids are always best.

Be Yourself

If you seem nervous or uncomfortable, your videos will be difficult to watch. You should be trying to build an emotional connection with your viewer, so the last thing you want is to create an awkward situation for them. That means you need to appear relaxed, friendly, credible, and like you have a lot of good information to share. (And you do, right?)

Rule #1: Smile. The viewer can’t see your hands, or very much of your body, so you have to ‘sell it’ with your face. You want to look approachable and trustworthy, but you also want to be interesting and exciting. Even if you feel silly (and you WILL feel silly), force yourself to smile more on camera than you would in normal conversation. You viewer won’t notice all the smiling; they’ll just think you look friendly. But if you don’t smile, chances are they will find the on-camera you boring and low-energy.

Smiling or not, you need to amp up your energy on video. The camera will make you look less energetic than you actually are – so over-exaggerate your expressions (you may have to play with this to know what the right ‘level’ is for you.) If you feel like you look silly and are being too dramatic, you’re probably doing it right. Your energy will appear lower to the viewer, so if you just use your normal, every day energy level, your videos will be really dull. Widen your eyes, use your smile, and really exaggerate your expressions. It won’t look silly when you watch it back, I promise.

Forget Your Script

I know, you wrote out everything you were supposed to say so you wouldn’t leave anything out. You did your best to commit the script to memory, but once the camera is on, you will forget your lines. It happens to everyone. And the problem is, once you forget your lines, you will appear anxious and panicked – your face and body will tense up – and you will not make a good impression. Also, when you are trying so hard to remember exactly what you are supposed to say, it will never come out right.

So, forget the script. Think about topics you want to cover – bullet points – not exact sentences. Get a handle on the information you want to convey in your video, and then just talk about it the same way you would to a prospective client. You’re probably good at talking about your business over coffee or at a networking event, so try to adopt the same attitude here. (Bonus: if you mess up on video, you can always do it again. That doesn’t happen when networking!)

Keep it Short – and Valuable

Your prospects have short attention spans, so keep your videos short and to the point. 30 to 90 seconds is ideal, especially if you’re planning to share them on your blog or on social media. (A home page video on your website could be a bit longer, but going over 2 minutes is never recommended.) After following these tips, you’re going to look great on video, but content is always the most important part. Use your videos to educate and inform – never to sell. Your job is to build rapport between your viewer and your brand, not to be the pitchman.

Of course, once complete, you will want to title and tag your videos properly for SEO purposes.  Videos can pull traffic back to your website, and they are great at helping you get found in search results. The more places you put your video, the faster it works for you, so, you’ll want to get the word out to as many people as possible. This blog sharing checklist will work for videos, too. More video views mean more potential customers for your business, so don’t keep your great video a secret!

Videos are shared 12x more often than other posts on social media, and websites with video are 50x more likely to achieve an organic first page ranking in search. Get over your phobia of being on camera, and put this powerful tool to work for you!

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