The Changing Role of Visuals

web conferencing

Back in the late 1980’s, presenters with live audiences had limited choices when it came to visuals. If you wanted to use a visual aid in your presentation, you were confined to props, displaying a transparency on an overhead projector, or referencing some type of visual on a large poster. Visuals were clearly supplemental and played second fiddle to the main speaker. Regardless of whether you were presenting to teach, inform, persuade, or entertain, visual aids were the secondary messenger and the speaker was primary.

For example, if a presenter claimed something should be done about the high cost of healthcare in the 1980’s, they would likely reveal a poster with a table chart depicting how health care costs have risen dramatically over the past several years. The visual would offer supporting evidence with accurate statistics from a credible source to support their claim that health care costs were rising. Then, when the presenter was ready to move to another point, the poster was covered. In other words, visuals were used to clarify points at the time the content called out for more clarity. Once the point was made, the visual was removed and the speaker became the focus of attention once more.

Flash forward to the advent of web conferencing nearly 20 years ago, where this operating principle got turned on its head. Suddenly, a constant barrage of slides became “the presenter,” while the audio commentator of speaker took the back seat. Visuals were shown at all times throughout the presentation, which also became common place with PowerPoint slide presentations as well. Slides visuals took over as the primary messenger, and the speaker’s audio became secondary. Why? Visuals simply steal the show. As John Medina in his book, Brain Rules says, “the visual sense trumps all other senses.” Unfortunately, to make matters worse, stagnant slides in the early days of web conferencing displayed for long chunks of time, while presenters often droned on with audio commentary.

The result?

Paper airplanes flying around workplace cubicles during webinars.

Today we’ve seen how dramatically web conferencing, webinars, and virtual classrooms have evolved. Yet the challenge to continually engage attendees remains as strong as ever. One shift is the improved quality and ease of video and integrated webcams. We see this adoption of streaming live video growing. In fact, some presenters stay on camera through the entire webinar presentation, in addition to subjecting viewers to continual slides. Although we’ve made improvements over the past decades in the number of slides shown, as well as shortened the amount of time they remain static, a new challenge has emerged.

When presenters leave their webcams on for the entirety of a webinar, in addition to showing multiple succession of slide visuals, viewers experience competing visual stimuli. Where to look? The disadvantage is that by focusing on the speaker’s video, for example, absorption from the content of the slide takes a hit. From what we know about research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, this type of attending and processing involves task switching, holding content in working memory, and likely, some cognitive load if the content is complex. The challenge is that viewers will likely not successfully absorb all slide content, while simultaneously watching and listening to the video of the speaker. Virtual attendees cannot attend to both and do them well.

Therefore, it is the presenter or the facilitator’s job to guide the viewer where to look. By turning off the webcam at strategic points, attendees can be directed to focus on the slides only, for example. By turning off slide display or displaying a fully colored, blank slide (explaining why it’s blank) or a slide with minimal content, attendees’ attention can be directed to the speaker’s video.

The lesson here is that just as a film director works with a cinematographer to direct where the audience should focus in a production, so also, we should carefully and thoughtfully determine when and where to best turn our webcam on and when to project slides. Video works great to introduce the presenter at the beginning, as well as during question and answer periods, for example.

Some web conferencing platforms now even allow for frames to be adjusted to consume more real estate, and then be reduced in size later. This is yet another tool at our disposal for helping communicate what the primary messenger is and what should be supplementary at any given time.

Using visuals to enhance and clarify our presentation should not be a 3-ring circus, but instead, a well crafted and directed production that considers the attendee first and foremost.

What say you?

Is Dead Air Deadly in Web Conferencing?

With the proliferation of web conferencing, more and more businesses and institutions are beginning to use webinars and web conferencing for meetings, interviews, marketing, and education and training.

I remember in 1999 when the company I worked for at the time received our first web conferencing platform. It was called Placeware, and had the capability to connect users over distance showcasing both visual slides and audio. Because VoIP was not perfected back then, we used audio bridging via the phone instead. Surprisingly, this early model offered the ability to use break-out audio rooms. But it was not simple. Attendees were required to punch a series of numbers into the phone to be “partitioned” into separate audio conference rooms and then had to punch in a different number combination to return to the virtual “main room” after discussions.

Flash forward to today where our web conferencing tools provide many more affordances. For example, facilitating break-out rooms are a breeze now comparatively. With Adobe Connect, you merely press a button to prepare participants for break-outs, attendees are automatically divided into groups, facilitators can send broadcast messages to all, facilitators can easily pop into groups by dragging their own name into a group, and break-out groups can work on white boards that display for all to see when attendees re-join the main room. With video capability now easily incorporated into platforms like WebEx, GoToWebinar, and Adobe Connect, we have the added ability to introduce our visual personalities and presence to attendees. It will be exciting to see where web conferencing takes us in the next decade!

Since web conferencing is growing, it’s fitting for us to discuss efficiencies and effectiveness with these tools. This year and last year, I’ve heard a few professionals comment that instructors and facilitators of web conferencing should never allow dead air or silence during a webinar. You may have heard that as well. They reasoned that “dead air” is deadly to viewers and can cause attendees to wonder if a connection is lost.

Do you think silence in a webinar is cause for alarm? Let’s look at this more closely.

First, let’s identify where the term “dead air” originated. This is terminology which emerged from radio. If listeners heard silence over the radio, it was seen as deadly because listeners would obviously not have the benefit of knowing the full context. As a result, listeners might turn off the radio or change the station. If the silence occurred while a listener was tuned into a station, they might wonder what happened to their connection and leave. Yet radio is very different from web conferencing. Radio employs only one sense – auditory. There is no visual anchor. Web conferencing, on the other hand, employs both visual and audio senses. So it is unfair to compare apples and oranges. Even with brief, limited moments of silence in web conferencing, attendees are still anchored to a visual connection (unless, of course, they do lose the Internet connection).

Radio listeners also interact differently than webinar attendees. They may tune in or leave a radio program at any time. Yet in the context of web conferencing, attendees usually commit to the allocated time of the webinar (1 hour or more). These viewers often attend live for the duration or listen/view the webinar’s recording later.

Additionally, if we examine webinars from a learning perspective, short stints of silence prefaced by statements of “I’ll pause briefly here so you can study this visual,” can actually be useful to learning. They allow learners to better absorb visual content in some cases. From a cognitive load and learning sciences perspective, when learners are bombarded with trying to read text on a slide and hear audio commentary at the same time, they cannot do both well. A pause to allow learners to review a slide in silence allows them to focus, be attentive, and absorb content more fully without distracting and competing audio. Does this mean facilitators should pause for every slide? Absolutely not. Pause when the learner needs time to process, study a visual before hearing the explanation, or complete a short assignment during the webinar.

That said, silence should always be prefaced with an expectation-setting statement. Say you are going to pause briefly and why, as well as explain what learners are expected to do during that time (a short assignment, write on the white board, send a message in the chat queue, study a visual, answer a brief quiz, respond to a poll question, etc.) And yes, pauses should be brief and not lengthy.

After an onslaught of constant chatter, listeners can also begin to habituate which means they start to pay less attention to the stimulus because it is no longer novel. An occasional pregnant pause offers a refreshing “breath”/break in the litany of speech–breaking the constant talking pattern and allowing some breathing room cognitively for learners.

So limited and brief periods of silence throughout web conferencing, prefaced by statements that set the expectation, “I’ll pause briefly so you can study this visual for a moment” can actually be useful.

Dead air may be deadly on radio, but in web conferencing, it may actually “give life.”

What say you?

 

Why Video Details Count

projector-361784_1280

Have you ever sold a house? If you have, you know how important it is to stage your home and present it in the best possible light. Literally. Turn on all the lights, make sure closets are lean, kitchen counters should sparkle, carefully arrange furniture, everything in working order, zero clutter . . . you get the picture.

Why? Because details count. And details, after all, leave impressions.

Imagine walls covered with nail holes, dirt smudges on the outside siding, and distracting nicks in kitchen appliances. These items will catch buyers’ attention, but obviously, not in a favorable way.

Instead, they call attention to themselves as defects and give the appearance of deficient care. Whether true or not, this can plant doubt in potential buyers’ minds about the owners’ lack of conscientiousness. The logic follows–albeit faulty–that there may be other issues wrong with the home then.

Impressions either place you in a credible light or they do the opposite.

This is also true for job interviews. We all know that a job candidate must put their best foot forward by dressing professionally and appearing well groomed. Language, demeanor, attitude, energy, professionalism, attire, and grooming all leave an impression–whether true or not. If we look professional, it creates the impression that we are professional. The logic that follows is that a professional-looking employee will contribute productively and positively to a company.

The bottom line is we create impressions. And these impressions lead us to believe other things about home owners and job candidates.

In the world of video production, impressions you create in the camera frame are created in a surprisingly similar fashion. When you present on video, you’re often selling yourself, your company, your brand, your message, your product, your services, etc. At some level, you’re selling something whether explicitly or implicitly. In doing this, you make an impression. Making a favorable impression on your video is essential because in order for viewers to choose to stay watching, you must be perceived as credible, interesting, helpful, or entertaining. To create this favorable impression, everything seen and heard in the visual frame counts.

So how can we create a positive impression on video?

As I mentioned earlier, everything counts. How you speak in the camera frame, where you look, what you wear, what your backdrop looks like, what is in the background behind you–all of these perceived visuals and auditory cues form an impression.

Viewers can get distracted looking at a video presenter’s hair if it’s not groomed well or calls attention to itself. Viewers may get distracted by a background if you’re shooting in a room unrelated to your content. For example, you wouldn’t want to shoot a professional video on how to build a firepit using the webcam on your computer in the bedroom. Also, is the baby dinosaur wallpaper in your video background competing with your video message on speaking with confidence? Perhaps shooting that video in an auditorium next to a lectern would be a better choice. Ask yourself if the background and foreground support or detract from your video message? Shaky cameras or poor audio leave a less than favorable impression. And a message that stumbles, repeats, and is full of tangents does not respect my limited time for watching video.

The simple truth is we will leave an impression whether we want to or not. So why not invest your video production time and effort to leave a favorable impression?

If it would help you, seek out a video coach or video consultant to help you come across with impact to be at your best and effectively reach your audience. Feel free to check out video coaching and consulting services at http://www.howlesassociates.com.

What video impressions are you making with viewers? What do you do to come across in favorable light?

3 Tips For Scripting Your Video

Office woman
Scripting Your Video

Have you ever struggled with how to write a good script? Do you know what makes an effective one? If you’ve ever thought about these questions, here are three key tips to help you write a script that will help you write and shoot a quality video.

TIP #1:  Use Conversational Language

Remember one of the most important elements of video delivery is to be conversational. This means that when you speak on camera, not only should your delivery style be informal, fluent, and natural, but the words you use should be as well. Avoid scripting traditional “writing” words like “overall,” and “furthermore” in your script. When there’s a two cent word that does the job, opt for the smaller word instead. Also, consider weaving contractions into your script to add to the casual, conversational feel.

TIP #2:  Show and Tell

When writing a script, the temptation is to “tell” the whole story. But sometimes we forget that video is a visual medium and the visual element should also be involved in revealing and unfolding the story. In the editing process, scan your script to find text references that could be shown visually instead of “telling.” Ideally, the spoken word and the visual frame will work together in the storytelling. There will be times when the visual is enough and other times when the on-camera talent speaks in front of a certain backdrop. The trick is to look carefully at your content and let the content determine when  and where it makes sense to depict a scene visually, script it verbally with a presenter, or use both.

TIP #3:  Pair Scene Descriptions with Text

It’s also helpful in your script to use a word processing software that allows you to create columns and rows. This way you can identify corresponding shots associated with scripted text for each scene. This helps clarify the length and content, as well as the shot list for the director. Creating a shot list in tandem with your verbal script, encourages you to think carefully about flow, pacing, length, consistency, and how to best illustrate the script. Always plan out the script and shot list together well ahead of video shoot day. Enlisting edits from a few trusted colleagues or friends (if you’re shooting the video alone) gives you additional perspective. Always have someone else edit your script and offer suggestions and feedback before your video shoot.

So the next time you sit down to write a script for video, remember to apply these key tips. Soon you’ll be on your way to leveraging both verbal and visual elements for great videos. Happy scripting!

What scripting tips do you use?

 

Celebrating a Decade: Howles Associates’ Anniversary

ha-logo_small2

This week our company celebrates its 10th anniversary in business, and our commitment to helping you craft and deliver powerful multimedia messages is stronger than ever. For ten years, it has been our privilege to have made a difference in your professional workplace and in the lives of your customers through Howles Associates, LLC, the online presentation experts.

Although our range of services over the years has evolved based on technologies of the time and clients’ needs, we still stand behind our time-worn mission to help you impact and effect change in your multimedia messaging. We accomplish this through video coaching, multimedia consulting, effective webinar delivery, video scripting and editing, video critiques, visual slide critiques, blended learning workshops on video, visual design, and multimedia, as well as keynotes.

And our commitment to our star service model has never changed. We remain proud to deliver our products and services with the utmost professionalism, multimedia expertise, excellent quality, evidence-based research, while embracing innovation and creativity every step of the way.

Most importantly, as we reflect on the last ten years it is you to whom we owe our greatest and deepest thanks. You have shared your pain points, your challenges, and your needs. You have trusted us with your messaging, explained your goals and desired results, and had the courage to implement what was needed. Working collaboratively with you has been one of our greatest, professional joys. We love the diversity of the client organizations, enjoy learning about your unique purposes, and we especially meeting people like you who want to make a difference. People who want to effect change.

All of us witnessed last weekend that even a small pebble thrown into a pond can create ripples of change never before thought imaginable. For example, the Women’s March in January, 2017 began simply with a Facebook invite from a retiree in Hawaii, Teresa Shook, to 40 of her friends. The ripple effect? Over 2 million marchers across the globe joined the Women’s March and Sister Marches. Now that’s effect.

Using multimedia messaging for your business through combinations of recorded or live voice, visual slides, video, and/or text can also make a difference in your business – all of these modalities can be leveraged effectively to create an effect. Whether it’s informative, educational, persuasive, or entertaining – multimedia tools can create powerful impact. And we love helping you do just that.

So on behalf of our scriptwriters and editors, our video coaches and designers, our graphic artists and web master, we thank you for entrusting Howles Associates with your business for the last 10 years. And we look forward to serving you another 10 years, and many years to come.

 

Video: The New Communication Medium

Video is not only growing exponentially, it’s also beginning to trump traditional methods of communication. For example, according to a QUMU press release, “video is today’s document.” And as Jim Lundy, CEO of Aragon Research states, “video is the new document.”

But apparently, documents are not the only communication medium video is trumping. Video is also becoming the “new phone call.”

When a new American President is first elected, it is customary for world leaders to call and offer their congratulations via telephone. Interestingly enough, when President-Elect Donald Trump was recently elected, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a congratulatory message as one might expect. But this time, he sent the congratulatory message via video (see YouTube video).

The Israeli leader’s video conveyed congratulatory words and tone similar to what a telephone medium could convey (“tele” meaning at a distance). Yet with video, the message goes beyond just words and tone. In just 45 seconds, we see and perceive the leader’s persona and personality, energy level, eye contact, expectations for working together, nonverbal body language, sincerity, and more. And by leveraging video to communicate this message, it can now be accessible worldwide, guaranteeing re-play capability and archiving for future generations.

This is a fascinating trend, and one that we can expect to see more and more. With accessible high quality video equipment and worldwide video distribution systems in place, video is becoming accessible to all, and not just world leaders.

In addition to congratulatory messages, we see video application growing in the field of education, employee on boarding, corporate YouTube channels, live event streaming, and talent development.

What other ways do you predict video will be used to communicate?

If you’d like to learn more about how to create effective video messages where you work, send us an inquiry by completing the fields below. Looking forward to hearing from you!

The Top 5 Online Video Mistakes

A  friend of mine recently shared how she conducted a job interview with a candidate in a non-traditional way.

She and her team interviewed the candidate online . . . using video.

The candidate used the built-in camera on his laptop to connect visually, and my friend and her colleagues used video conferencing equipment at their workplace. As the interviewer, my friend shared how pleased and surprised she was with how well the interview went using video technology.

But then at the end of the interview, the unthinkable happened . . .

Apparently, both parties had said their “thank you’s” to close the interview. But instead of the interviewee turning off his video, he unintentionally kept the video live and used his hands to half close the laptop while remaining seated to do other work.

The result?

The laptop’s video camera was now directed solely at the candidate’s lap, and suddenly his job interviewers found themselves staring directly at a crotch onscreen.

ONLINE VIDEO MISTAKES

Not exactly how you want to end a professional interview, right? Let’s just say, it was . . . well, awkward.

Because video is being used more and more for video conferencing, job interviews, video tutorials, corporate messaging, e-learning, telepresence conferencing, there is plenty to learn as we move toward becoming a video literate society.

Below are some common mistakes people tend to make when on-camera. Knowing what these errors are can help you avoid them, so your onscreen time can leave audiences with a powerful impact, and not the opposite.

TOP 5 COMMON MISTAKES

5. Long Openings 

Nothing says boring like a long introduction, a lengthy bio, a drawn out welcome, etc. Think about online video as brief snippets of information. Everything you say should be concise and relevant. Remember, viewers can always go back and view it again, if needed. Keep those first few seconds short and to the point, afterall, this is when you make a first impression.

4. Mellow Energy

Even normally energetic personalities sometimes lose their energy when placed in front of a cold, lonely camera lens. Remember, your energy as presenter is contagious to those watching. If you have come across with low energy and no passion for your content, we will feel the same way.

3. Deer in Headlights Expression

There’s nothing like a semi-coma look to energize viewers on the other end of the screen. Facial expression cannot be blank on-camera. Remember, video is all about movement. Natural facial expression and subtle movements keep us interested and attentive. We don’t want to watch a presenter who doesn’t look delighted to be there.

2. Irrelevant Tangents

Although you do want to come across with spontaneity, you want to curb the topical tangents. True, these can be cut in post-production but that requires more editing time and time is money. Prepare your video presentation ahead of time with a script or talking points, so you can keep yourself on topic. Think about talking in sound bites on topical chunks. Your viewers will thank you.

1. Camera Know-how

The most important part is realizing when your camera is on, when it’s off, how to turn it on, and how to turn it off. It’s also about knowing what’s visible to viewers and what’s out of frame. Where is the camera targeted and can viewers see you scratching your belly right now or is the camera really off?

Let’s keep all these common errors in mind, and allow them to inform the success of our future video presentations.

Please let me know in the comments below what memorable mistakes you’ve observed with video users?

What say you?

 

The Case of Shaky Cam vs. Steady Cam

User Question:  “Is it okay if I hold my video camera to shoot videography?”

If you’re a YouTube junkie, you’ve undoubtedly watched some of the published videos that unintentionally make you feel like the video is being shot right near the San Andreas fault line. You know the ones I mean, where the videos are so shaky, pan too fast, or move up and down so quickly that the effect on viewers is well, . . . not pretty.

There is another way.

These “earthquake” videos are caused by well-intentioned handheld videography. When you simply hold your video camera yourself, there will be horizon lines that are off, quick movements that are hard to watch in succession, jerky visuals, and the list goes on. The shortened term for this is “Shaky Cam.”

But rather than make your viewers dizzy, here are some things you can do to ensure that your videography produces a more–shall we say–pleasant effect on your viewers. To shoot video with a steady cam, consider the following:

Tip #1 – Secure your video camera on a tripod. 

If you’re shooting videography with a mobile device, there are so many available online resources now. For example, it is fairly inexpensive to purchase an attachment for securing your recording mobile device to a tripod when recording. If you’re shooting video on a traditional video camera, there are tripods readily available for purchase.

Tip #2 – Place your video camera on a table or steady platform.

Even placing your recording device on a raised knee if you’re sitting, or on a colleague’s shoulder if you’re interviewing a subject, is still better than a handheld shaky cam. If a high table is accessible, this is preferred. Just ensure the eye line of your video presenter or subject aligns with the camera lens, so viewers don’t feel like they’re sharply looking up or down at the video presenter.

Tip #3 – Brace your arms against your body to shoot handheld video.

If you absolutely must use a handheld video camera for whatever reason, brace your arms against your body and hold your arms tight to your chest while shooting video. Resist the temptation to hold your mobile device out with your arms, as most people do when taking photos. This takes the pressure off your arm muscles, provides more of a steady frame, and reduces some of the shakiness.

Remember, you want you viewers to be pay attention to you and your message. You don’t want them distracted by the shaky scenery that leaves them feeling motion sickness, among other things.

With just a few extra steps and an openness to being resourceful, you can transform your videos from “shaky cam” to “steady cam” rather smoothly. And “smoothly” here, is definitely the point.

Shake, anyone?

Summer Conference Take-aways

Have you attended a conference recently that transformed the way you worked after returning to your office? Conferences are a great way to network with others, hear salient ideas from thought leaders, and be inspired by colleagues from any number of disciplines.

This year I was fortunate to attend six conferences, one of which, was the UW-Madison Distance Teaching and Learning Conference held this summer in Madison, Wisconsin. Although there were many great insights and lessons learned at this conference, I especially enjoyed the sessions on video and interactive video content and their relevance in today’s training and educational world.

For example, James Moore from DePaul University shared take-aways from video best practices and educational videos. He explored how you can create engaging video for instruction using ScreenFlow, Screencast, or Camtasia. He encouraged content creators to use content from open sources. Referencing Richard Mayer’s multimedia principles, he underscored the importance of applying several of these principles to video as well. To help with poor audio, he suggested using a pop filter as a best practice to minimize audio distractions. In terms of recording video on mobile devices, he reminded those who videotape themselves to turn their phones sideways before recording video. Watching videos in portrait mode requires the brain to scan vertically, and it’s not conducive to the way we normally view the world.

Additionally, because many people are uncomfortable when presenting in front of a camera or often look quite scared, Moore suggests creating bullets on the Teleprompter for on-camera talent so they are not tempted to read verbatim. This helps them to not be as tied down to the teleprompter and hopefully, relax more. Additionally, Moore emphasized that many more viewers are watching video only on their phones, especially millennials, so realize your videos will most likely be viewed on small screens.

Matt Pierce from TechSmith was another presenter at the conference who also discussed the use of video for learning. According to a 2016 study conducted by TechSmith, participants watching instructional and informative videos often stopped watching the videos after around one minute, and their main reasons for stopping the video were because they were bored or it wasn’t providing them what they were looking for generally. This raises the bigger question of the need to continually explore how to engage viewers through video.

For those who wish to integrate content with video, there are some applications that allow you to create video content and then pause and allow students to respond in a comment or a question box. Learners may select an answer and then receive immediate, corrective feedback. As we know from multiple research studies that show the results of the testing effect, frequent quizzes that test recall often and give corrective feedback are essential for learning. John Orlando from Northcentral University recommends a variety of interactive content applications which include:  EDpuzzle; dot storming; Videoant; Thinglink; and Touchcast.

In terms of actual video production, Pierce suggests that if you do make a mistake while recording video to simply speak the line again. This is a more efficient way to record, rather than starting completely over as a new “take.” In post-production, the error can be edited out or smoothed over with a transition or cut-away clip. There are also ways to underscore your video productions and cue the viewers as to the most important content and parts of your video. For example, you can use a verbal signpost such as “If you hear nothing else, remember this . . . ” Phrases such as these alert the listener to pay extra special attention.

The best take-away from conferences, of course, is the ability to return to the workplace and apply something new. And hopefully, you and your organization will reap the benefits of transformation somewhere along the way . . .

What is one of your key take-aways from professional development or conferences you’ve attended this year?

What You Should Know About Being On Camera

iStock_16295047_CamPresenter_Medium

As a former model, I know that there are two important facial features that sell print ads.

Eyes and mouth.

This is where personality, intrigue, attitude, emotion, interest, and curiosity emerge from. These human dimension features either pull us toward the ad and the product or push us away.

When you present on video, these same two facial features are also critically important. If we cannot see both your eyes or watch your mouth moving, we will not connect as well with you as viewers. Why is this important? Because you are the carrier of the message. If we are not drawn to you, we may not hear what you have to say. This week we’ll  focus on the importance of making sure both eyes can be seen on camera, and next week we’ll focus on the importance of not blocking your mouth in the camera frame (happens all the time when people lean forward or gesture excessively).

As the old adage says, the eyes truly are the “window to the soul.” By establishing eye contact with another, we can sense mood, attitude, emotion, enthusiasm, apathy, energy, engagement, disappointment, interest, disinterest, and the list goes on.

The same is true for video.

When you present on camera, we want to be able to see your eyes to make that vital connection. As babies, we are drawn to faces to sub-consciously determine cues about what is happening. Obstacles that may hinder this connection include poor lighting, poor positioning on camera, inappropriately placed rollover text or icons added in post-production, or hand gestures or body movements that block viewers’ contact with your eyes. Let’s explore these one by one.

Lighting is really important, as good video requires lots of light. When you’re recording yourself on video, make sure your face is lit well from the front, which will likely require a side light to remove shadows from the face. If the presenter is in the dark, viewers won’t be able to make that “invisible” eye contact or feel like you’re looking at us.

Another obstacle is that some presenters may also have awkward positioning that doesn’t allow us to see a presenter’s eyes all of the time they are speaking on camera. If they are turned to the side, or worse, their back to us in parts, we are missing vital communication cues with the on-camera presenter. So make sure the presenter is looking at the lens, and viewers are able to see both eyes within the frame.

In the editing process, sometimes text or other images also get added to the bottom, top, or sides of the screen. Or if your video is overlaid on a video platform frame, certain icons may be added as well. Again, test the playback to make sure your eyes are not covered by these emblems, or modify if they are, as this can be a frustrating experience for viewers.

One last obstacle I often see is unintentional gestures. Unknowingly enthusiastic or presenters who gesture excessively may cover portions of their face when they speak on camera. People easily foget that they are talking within a framed boundary and that by moving their hands as they normally would, they actually may raise them too high and partially cover an important source of connection with viewers — their eyes. When you first come on a video set, ask how big your camera frame is so you know approximately where to place your arms when you gesture. Then, keep gestures below your neck so viewers can always see your eyes when you’re speaking. Adding add cut-away shots, B roll, and supporting visuals into your video add many benefits to your overall video, and obviously, these segments would not require an on-camera presenter to provide eye contact with the lens, A.K.A., the viewer.

Overall, when you present on video, remember the importance of eye contact when you first establish a connection with others – even if your audience is off camera.

So don’t start speaking, until your videographer says he/she can “see the whites of your eyes.”

What say you?