On-camera Skills: Are you Putting your Viewer Experience at Risk?

You had me at BEFORE Hello” 

If you are self-producing your videos, a key aim is to create a positive viewing experience for your viewers and to keep them engaged with you and your messages. 

In today’s information-overloaded society people take cognitive shortcuts to make snap decisions about what they see on screen. Your goal is to have your target audience instantly get a gist of who you are. They will quickly judge whether you seem honest, and make assessments about your subject matter credibility. You need to quickly demonstrate that you have their best intentions at heart.

Its why Advertising agencies cast people who look just like the intended target user for the product or service – so customers who identify with the actors or models in appearance, social status, and background will be influenced to view the brand favorably.

You need to make it easy for your target customer to psychologically “get you” so they engage with you and your message in a positive way. They need to visually register and emotionally identify with the physical image or the “type” of person on the screen. You need to manage how you appear, so your audience doesn’t have to guess, or worse, jump to the wrong conclusion about you, because you’ll lose them.

It’s the Little Things that will Undermine you

In order to be persuasive, you need to control the visual information you portray on-screen. It is the subtle things that many presenters overlook (or are unaware of) that can powerfully influence your viewers on a subconscious level, and impact your trust and credibility.

Human beings are subconsciously evaluating hundreds of pieces of information every second and making decisions about without being consciously aware of it. They just “get a feeling” about a person, and then look for evidence to confirm that feeling.

No matter what your skillset, your target audience will have expectations about how an expert should look, sound, and behave in the context of your work.

For example, if your airline pilot showed up to the departure gate with a poorly fitting uniform, untidy hair, disorganized carry on luggage, and an overly casual demeanor, these 1st impressions might give you a hint of doubt about their competence. You would hesitate. You would look closer to confirm whether or not you fully trust this person to be your pilot.

Therefore, you want to reduce anything that could create audio or visual barriers (consciously or subconsciously) between you and your audience.

What to look for:

  • Excessive body movement i.e. swaying, bobbing in and out of frame (I’ve seen this a lot with online videos), the constant shifting of body weight, rocking back and forth or swiveling on chairs (while seated), arms flapping, finger-pointing and air punching.
    • Note: Air punching only works well providing you can deliver this action with hand-on-heart conviction, and if you are being filmed in full to medium shot – otherwise it can look too big, forced, or fake when operating within the confines of your camera’s framing i.e. filmed in a close-up
  • Body language that is inconsistent with your message i.e. A welcoming video message with arms crossed, hand-wringing, clenched jaw, no smile, staring eye-contact (at the lens) and disengaged body positioning i.e. leaning away from the video camera (I’ve seen this often with corporate videos)
  • Eyeballing or staring at the camera, a common occurrence with people who a new to presenting to a video camera, or who read from an autocue – something I do not recommend
  • Poor diction, slurred speech, and fillers (e.g. like, so, you know, right, uh, ah, um) in your key messages. These fillers seem to drag or slow the pace of your video presentation down and may actually encourage your viewer to click away or abandon your video altogether.
    • Plus, fillers can make you sound unsure of your message – diluting your delivery and the impact of your message or statement. Slurred speech can sound l-a-z-y and give the impression that you don’t care enough about what you are saying – so don’t blow it
  • Forced or faked smiles are really easy to spot on video – oddly enough it has a lot to do with your eyes. When presenting to the camera try this simple mindset shift technique
  • Take advantage of your background setting and remember to set the scene for your video presentation
  • Pay attention to your wardrobe colors and clothing styles – realize that the video camera sees things differently than the human eye
  • Figure out which camera angles work best for you (photogenically) for your video presentations
  • Remember personal grooming and styling really stands out on camera (because anything that is “framed” takes on more visual meaning and significance) to the viewer. So make it count.

 

Define Yourself Before they Define you

1st impressions are crucial. Within 3 to 8 seconds, your viewers have judged your income, level of education, and even your level of success.

“Within 30 seconds (providing you are compelling and engaging enough for them to be still watching) they’ve also judged your level of intelligence, honesty, competence, friendliness, and confidence. Once they’ve formed this 1st impression, you are stuck with it”

 

Takeaways

  • How do you want to be perceived by your target audience? You want them to perceive you as the go-to thought leader in your space, right? You can’t leave this to chance. You must clearly position your thought leadership by design.
  • Sure, your current customers and raving fans already love you. They know what you stand for, and may even forgive you for a less than stellar video viewing experience. But what about someone who discovers your video outside of your web platform, or out of context and is seeing you onscreen for the first time?

As baseball legend Joe DiMaggio said, “There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time, and I owe him my best.” We agree. You owe it to your audience to bring “your best self” at all times.

Anything short of the mark may lower any newcomers’ first impression of you, your professionalism and your offerings. Wherever possible please bring your best self and game to the lens – you don’t know who could be viewing you for the very first time.

Need a little guidance? You can always book a time with me to troubleshoot your video creation or a production challenge.

Until then keep creating and having fun with your video creations.

 

 

 

P.s Jump on my “Early Notify” Booklist. Packed with insider tips and techniques to help you deliver compelling, masterful videos for your business or personal brand.

 

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