Manage those First Impressions on Video

It’s vital to manage your first impressions, especially if you’re doing video presentations for your personal or business brand. If you are a thought leader eager to create video content, remember it’s your face representing your brand, and often it’s the little things that will undermine you. In this instance, understanding and controlling the visual elements you portray on screen becomes an important part of your planning and creation process.

Initially, your viewer may have no idea who you are or what you do. Or they may view your video outside of your web platform or out of context.

First-time viewers can be less forgiving and simply judge you by what they see.

Unfortunately, that becomes the “anchor” by which they will judge every subsequent exposure to you. Providing they stick around long enough to watch.

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

 Position your thought leadership by design. Do not leave this to chance. 

If you want them to perceive you as the go-to thought leader in your space. You must not leave this to chance. It’s here that you must clearly position your thought leadership by design.


Some Harvard Findings!

A study by Harvard stated:

“Within a few seconds, people have judged your social and economic level, your level of education, and even your level of success. Within minutes, they’ve also decided your level of intelligence, trustworthiness, competence, friendliness, and confidence”.

Imagine how that translates to your business video, where your viewer can pause, replay, or go full screen on your presentation and scrutinize you even more intensely.

Remember, the viewer of your video presentation is only an arm’s length away from you on their viewing device. This is an intimate distance, and very different compared to if you were presenting to a live audience or meeting in person.

Crafting your first impression is something you have complete control of. Make it work for you.

Sweat the Small Important Stuff

It’s your face representing your personal or business brand, and often 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’s the subtle things that many presenters overlook (or are unaware of) that can powerfully influence your viewers on a subconscious level, and negatively impact your trust and credibility.

Human beings unconsciously evaluate hundreds of pieces of information every second and make decisions without being consciously aware of it. They just “get a feeling” about a person, and then look for evidence (confirmation bias) to confirm that feeling.

How do you want to be perceived by your Target Audience?

What do you want people to see, hear, and feel when they discover you on video for the first time?

In order to optimize your first impression, you must focus on 3 core areas:

Anything short of the mark creates a less-than-optimal first impression about:

  • You as a person
  • Your professionalism
  • Your offerings

Whether it is your presentation itself or the video production quality, anything that is perceived by your viewers as inferior is more likely to be judged harshly.

Meet Your Target Audiences Expectations

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 credibility. You need to quickly demonstrate that you have their best intentions at heart.

Advertising agencies cast people who look just like the intended target user for the product or service. 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 positively. They need to visually register and emotionally identify with the physical image or the “type” of person they see on screen.

You need to manage how you come across on screen so your audience doesn’t have to guess, or worse, jump to the wrong conclusion about you.

I always stress to my clients that the key to creating compelling online video presentations is not merely to “be yourself” – rather it is to bring the very best of yourself to the screen.

Create your First Impression by Design

  • Check your background. Your background setting must be congruent with how you want your brand to be perceived.
    • Does it add to your brand or does it distract?
    • Could you incorporate some subtle form of product placement or brand collateral in the background?
  • Set the scene. Design the look and feel of your video by developing a visual identity
  • Good lighting is essential. Good lighting is your “friend” on video. Done well, it can make you appear more vibrant, fresh-faced, and well-rested on-screen
    • Don’t have your back to the window
    • Always make sure you are facing your light source
    • Adopt 3-point lighting for best results
  • Do you look the part?

Your Creative Expression on Video

  • Modify your body language to cater to the confines of the video frame
    • On-screen everything is magnified, so “stage presenting” or even normal everyday body movement will look excessive on-screen, and can upstage you and your delivery
  • Watch out for random body movements
    • Often when we are excited, nervous, or anxious we can have a tendency to shift our body weight, flap our arms and hands, or bob around which can be highly distracting to your viewer.
    • Excessive movement on camera will upstage you every time – so make sure that any on-camera movement is a specific action (Side note: actors hack-trick: the quickest way to upstage your screen partner and steal the scene is to move around while they speak)
  • Rehearse your script prior to filming – avoid going in cold. You want to have your brain fully focused on your performance – i.e. on the delivery of your message, not trying to remember what to say next (which can make you look unsure of yourself and ‘zoned-out’ on-screen)
    • Rehearsing what you are going to say will help reduce speech “flubs” as well as cost, editing time, and countless re-takes
    • Warm-up your vocals, your face, and your jaw (notorious places for tension). Masking your tension will only intensify it on-screen
    • To reduce tension, find something funny to laugh at prior to filming. Laughing will relax and emotionally free you up. It will also open your airways and put you in a great mood
    • Smile. Not only is it attractive, but it’s an important persuasive trust-building expression. A warm genuine smile, a relaxed face, and a calm focused mind, with steady confident eye contact, will appear captivating and engaging on video
  • If you are thinking of using an Autocue – I don’t recommend it unless you are highly proficient with it i.e.
    • You have the skills to alter your vocal intonation and allow the voice to move through the natural responses of changes in thoughts and emotional intensity
    • You can relax your eye contact with the lens while reading and don’t display these common on-camera eye contact pitfalls
        • NOTE: In my experience viewers tend to disengage with the video presenter due to the psychological barrier that reading from an autocue entails. Plus the video presenter can inadvertently come across as inauthentic or emotionally disengaged from the meaning of their message.

No Sensory Feedback

The video camera will not give you any feedback like a human being does – so you need to get used to that one-way flow if you want to be effective with your message and come across well on video.

For maximum impact, practice delivering your presentation to the camera (not to the mirror, or to a person in the room – you won’t be as compelling). Instead, aim to direct your full energy, attention, and focus toward the lens (that’s your audience).

Remember to bring your “best self” to the screen. Put yourself into a resourceful state by approaching your video shoot with an attitude of curiosity, excitement, and interest. Be genuine, warm, and engaging, and focus on the value that you are delivering to your viewer.

If you have a question or you what me to cover a topic for you let me know. I’m always listening! And, you can always book a time with me to get the tailored support and guidance you need on any of the performance areas covered in this post. See below for details or learn more about my services here.




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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