Lights, camera, action!
Videos are the building blocks for your online course. But if you’ve never made a video before…or you don’t like being on camera…or you aren’t sure where to start…you may need a little help.
Never fear. Today is all about what to say on camera, and how to say it. Whether you’re comfortable with public speaking, or the idea of hearing your voice on camera makes you want to run for the hills, we have everything you need to take your video to the next level.
Here’s a great thing to remember when you’re creating video:
People default to believing what you tell them.
When someone watches your video, their automatic position is to believe that you’re the expert. They want to listen to you. They want to trust you! And there’s no reason for you to be nervous or feel like an imposter who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Go ahead and take a deep confident breath. Put a little swagger in your step.
You are the expert!
The question is, what kind of expert are you? You already know what your area of expertise is. You probably have a good sense of what your course content will be. But what about the person who’s teaching the course? (That’s you!) What is that person like
Creating your onscreen persona
Who you are on camera is sometimes more important than what you say on camera.
Sounds crazy? It isn’t.
Imagine someone sends you a three minute video about time management skills for your business. The person presenting the video, however, is disheveled and unhappy looking. He mumbles, looks away from the camera, and doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about.
Even if his time management tips are pure gold, you’re not going to trust him.
Now, imagine someone sends you a video with the exact same information, but presented by someone else. He’s wearing a suit and tie, he smiles and looks directly into the camera, and he seems like he knows exactly what he’s talking about.
You’d believe what he had to say in a heartbeat, wouldn’t you?
Now, we’re not saying that everyone should wear a suit and tie in their videos. Absolutely not! What we’re saying is that it’s up to you to figure out the best way to present yourself to your audience so that they like you, trust you, and believe in what you have to say.
Which sitcom stereotype are you?
Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to present yourself. You probably think: “I’m not a ‘persona.’ I’m just…me!” But even the most unique among us tend to fit into certain categories.
Think of all the sitcom characters you’re familiar with. They’re all different characters in different shows, but they fall into stereotypical categories: the girl next door, the bumbling goofball, the no-nonsense mom, the crabby grandpa, the lovable loser, the tough guy, the wacky girl, the funny sidekick, the ruthless businessperson…the list goes on and on.
Stereotypes usually have a negative connotation in the real world because real people are unique, not cookie-cutter clones. But in the world of marketing, when you’re building your own persona, stereotypes can be your friend. You can play up the side of your personality that best matches the material you’re presenting.
How does that work, exactly?
Let’s say you’re selling a course for people who want to learn basic HTML. If you’re a web development nerd who loves coding, don’t hide it! Play it up to create your onscreen persona. Instead of wearing a suit and tie, wear your favorite t-shirt from thinkgeek. Tell your favorite coding jokes. Show your audience that you’re a tech geek — a stereotype they’ll know and understand.
Your viewers will bring their own connotations and assumptions about tech geeks to the table. They’ll assume you’re great at coding. They’ll put their faith in you. When you deliver on that persona, you’re showing them that you’re the right person for the job.
Here’s another example.
Let’s say you’re selling an online course for people who want to start their own personal stylist consultancy. What stereotypical persona do you think viewers will trust right off the bat? Not someone who’s wearing a ripped t-shirt and jeans. They want to learn from a fashionista.
Hopefully, if you’re teaching this kind of course, you already consider yourself something of a fashionista. The key is to play it up so that your viewers can see it. Wear something fabulous. Do your hair and makeup. Shoot your video in a stylish room. Your viewers will think: “Yup, she knows what she’s talking about.”
Some people find creating a persona difficult because they’re multi-faceted human beings. That’s perfectly understandable. We’re all multi-faceted in real life, and we all wear many hats every day.
In addition to being a fashionista, you might be a baseball fan, a dog lover, and a championship pie-baker. But when you’re teaching, it’s important to wear just one hat: the hat that speaks to your audience the best.
Your first 5 seconds are the most important
Your introduction is vital. It’s your make-it-or-break-it moment, your video handshake. Your chance to connect with your viewers and show them that you mean business. Will you win your viewers’ hearts, or will they find something else to watch?
We’ve often been told: “Don’t just a book by its cover.” Well, that’s a nice sentiment, and it’s something we should all aim to do, but it’s just not reality.
In reality, everyone judges a book by its cover. Everyone judges the people they meet before they really get to know them. Everyone judges a video within the first few seconds. All the more reason your intro should be the best it can be. (Think of it as your book cover!)
Here’s how to rock your video introduction with the 7 Important Intro Must-Haves.
Yes, it’s that simple. A smile goes a long way in building your relationship with your audience.
2. Make eye contact.
Look right into the camera when you’re speaking. Resist the urge to look at the floor or to read your intro off a piece of paper.
3. Look your best.
What outfit makes you feel amazing, and like your best self? Wear it with pride!
4. Say your name.
Always, always, always say your name. You want your audience to remember you and feel like they know you.
5. Give the basics.
Quickly remind your viewers of the important stuff, like the name of the course and today’s topic.
6. Be enthusiastic.
Keep your energy level high! You’re happy to be here.
7. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Every single video you create should feature this introduction. Never assume that people will know who you are or what they’re watching.
The #1 thing that gets your viewers pumped about you
What excites your video audience the most? Is it…
- High production value: an expensive camera, beautiful lighting, and a fancy set?
- Exclusivity: quality information and advice they can’t find anywhere else?
- Quantity: lots and lots of looong videos with hours and hours of great content?
The answer is: none of the above.
Actually, you don’t need ANY of those things to have a successful video. High production values are lovely, but they’re not vital. Exclusive content is great, but it isn’t everything. Having a lot of videos is nice, but it’s not mandatory, and you definitely don’t need long videos.
The #1 thing that excites your audience is YOU.
Your personality, your energy, your passion. That’s the magic that takes a video from moving pixels on a screen to a strong emotional connection. Your heart, your spirit, and your soul can reach through the screen and transform someone’s life. Whatever unique personality and passion you bring to the table, it’s time to ramp it up and let your light shine.
This takes a little bit of work for most people.
Speaking to a video audience isn’t that much different than speaking in front of a live audience. That can be a scary thought, but don’t be intimidated. Just like a public speaker, you need to command the room.
It’s up to you to establish a level of excitement in your audience, and that happens when you bring your own excitement.
Think about it: your viewers might be watching your video at the end of a long day, or on a quick coffee break at work, or while they’re watching the kids. Their attentions are probably divided, and their energy level is low.
You need to pump them up!
If someone watches your video with a 30% energy level, they’re only going to get 30% of the enjoyment they should be getting.
If you bring 30% of your energy level, the same holds true. Your audience isn’t going to get MORE excited when you’re LESS excited.
If you want people to experience your video at a 100% excitement level, you need to be at 200%. That’s the only way you can grab people out of their seats and make them pay attention.
How to increase your on-camera passion
If you’re a naturally outgoing person, this might not be a problem for you. If you’re nervous about public speaking, unsure of yourself, or introverted, we’re here to give you the push you need.
- Stand up.
When you’re on your feet, you’re more alert and more active. You feel stronger and more powerful than when you’re sitting down. Standing also allows your body to breathe deeper, fuller breaths, which allow you to project your voice and control your pacing.Keep your feet shoulder width apart and your knees loose (don’t lock them). Resist the urge to sway back and forth or move too much when you’re standing. Assume a confident position, and hold it naturally.
- Speak out.
Take a big, deep breath from your belly before you start talking. (Watch out for the dreaded “shoulder breath.” Your stomach should expand slightly when you inhale, but your shoulders should not go up.)When you speak, imagine there’s someone in the back of the room who needs to hear you. Don’t shout, and don’t strain, but don’t be afraid of the sound of your own voice, either! A strong, clear speaking voice projects confidence.
Sound familiar? We told you to smile in your video intro, and we want you to keep smiling throughout.Your audience will feel your enthusiasm when you keep your face nice and bright. Smiling is contagious, and it’s the perfect way to transmit your passion to your viewers.
- Talk to one person.
It’s easy to be animated when you’re talking to a good friend. Instead of talking to a virtual audience of hundreds or thousands of people, pretend you’re talking to just one. Imagine the little red or green “record” dot on your camera is that person.Or, take it to the next level: tape a photo of your friend near the camera so you can see their face as you’re talking.
- Slow down and pause.
When you’re nervous or you’re trying to convey energy, the same thing happens. You start to speed up. You find yourself rushing through your video like a runaway train. Don’t let this happen to you!Make an effort to go slow and to pause frequently. Your audience needs time to process what you’re saying, and they’ll welcome your steady pacing. Convey your enthusiasm with all of the tips here, NOT with increased speed.
- Vary your inflection.
“Bueller…Bueller…Anyone? Bueller?”Another pitfall that happens to many video presenters is the dreaded monotone. When you’ve been talking for a minute or two, it’s natural for your voice to fall into the same vocal patterns. That droning, monotonous sound leads to sleepy students. Instead, vary your tone and pitch as you speak. Stay mindful of using your entire vocal register, not just one or two “notes.”
- Have a midpoint check-in.
Starting out with energy is the easy part. Maintaining that energy throughout an entire video is a whole other ballgame. Decide on a moment in the middle of your video where you’ll give yourself a quick mental reminder to increase your energy level. This will prevent you from falling into a slump and limping to the finish line.
- Be bigger than you think you should.
The way we perceive ourselves is drastically different from how others perceive us. When you think you’re being energetic, your viewers will find you low energy. When you think you’re being over the top, your viewers will find you appealingly enthusiastic.Always aim for a higher energy level than you think is appropriate. Trust us, it will come across as far less crazy than you think.
If you’re really intimidated by being on camera, you have other options.
Consider recording a voiceover that you can play over a PowerPoint or screen share presentation. You still have to keep the energy levels high, but you might find it easier if all you have to worry about is your voice, not what to do with your face and hands.
Awesome Video Case Study: Marie Forleo
Let’s meet a marketing pro who’s following all of our guidelines to create super enticing, high quality video content.
We’ll break down one of her videos piece by piece, showing you what works and why. Then, we want you to take a look at a few more and identify for yourself what makes them great.
Go ahead and watch this video right now:
Did you enjoy it? Did you learn a little something? How many of our video suggestions did you spot in Marie’s video?
Here’s what Marie does right:
- She introduces herself by name and tells viewers what they’re watching (Q&A Tuesday on Marie TV!).
- She creates an unforgettable onscreen persona. You know within the first five seconds that Marie is a strong, funny, smart, fashionable woman.
- She’s dressed for the part, and her surroundings support her person, too.
- She starts off with big energy and smiles and even a little silliness to let you know what you’re in for.
- She speaks directly to the camera.
- She stop at two mid-way points (2:39 and 3:49) for a little random humor. This breaks up the flow just enough to re-engage the viewer if their mind starts wandering to other things.
- She includes several clear calls to action at the end, giving you an option about what to do next.
All of these points — and Marie’s incredible production quality — help make this video a joy to watch. She’s a perfect example of exactly what we should all aim for. Way to go, Marie!
Homework! You tell us why these videos succeed.
Now it’s your turn. Here are some videos for you to watch. As you’re watching, ask yourself:
- What is the video topic, and what is the presenter’s persona? Does the persona help support the topic and build my trust?
- What kind of introduction is used? Does it make you feel welcomed?
- What’s the energy/enthusiasm level throughout the video? Does it ever dip down, or does it stay consistent throughout?
- What kind of closing or call to action is there?
- What other factors in the video make you feel like the presenter is trustworthy, knows their stuff, and cares about you?
- Anything you would do differently?
- Anything you can use in your own video?
Did you find this helpful? Get our best advice delivered to your inbox every week when you join our email newsletter. Remember to check back for Part 2 of our Goof-proof Plan for Video Domination next week.