Smile! You’re On Camera

Old camera

Video. When I watch myself in a video it’s sort of an out-of-body experience; is that really me on the screen? Do I look like that? Why do I keep doing that weird thing with my eyebrows?

We are forever critical of ourselves and our presentation to the public. So many of our students are nervous to give a presentation yet I am the opposite; I feel much more confident and comfortable when I’m in the room with you rather than sending a video–even if that video is highly editing and lit really well.

When we make a video, we are all in our heads. There are no audience members to give us feedback or silent clues as to whether or not we are losing their interest. I thought that joke I just made was funny, but I won’t know in real time if it was a hit with the viewer.

And yet, I imagine many people prefer to make videos of their presentations or lectures for precisely this reason: they don’t want the feedback or they feel intimidated in front of an audience. They would rather power through their script and slides, say what they have to say, and move on to the next thing.

But me? I gotta have a conversation. So where does video fit in?

Who is watching?

Youtube says they there are 3.7 million new videos uploaded daily to their platform. TikTok says the average amount of time viewers are on the app is 45.8 minutes..EACH DAY. (People: that is time you will never get back. Just saying…) As for how many people are watching those videos, think billions, with a B.

I will freely admit that I have never used TikTok and I use YouTube mostly to learn how to fix broken appliances, bake sourdough bread, or do some nerdy coding for my software obsessions.

When videos do pop up in my RSS feed, I typically swipe past them. Usually it’s because I’m not in a place where I can turn the audio on and I never seem to have my airpods handy. Also, it’s because I’m an inpatient viewer. When reading it’s easy to skip text to get to the good parts but when you’re watching a video, you have to wait for the presenter to go through their opening bits before the actual topic comes up.

When we can say it better in a video

Beth and I are knee-deep in creating hybrid training programs: longer-term education that includes live virtual workshops, online coaching, and individual work done online. This means that while we give our students the opportunity to meet us and get to know our personalities in a virtual workshop, most of the interaction happens when we’re not there live. Students move through the online lessons at their own pace.

If you’re reading this, then you are probably familiar with our communication styles–some healthy irreverence, lots of humor, and creative ways to get our points across. While we take our teaching very seriously, we do like to have fun. Who doesn’t? Especially when you’re in a training program your boss signed you up for.

Our videos do a great job of displaying our personalities while teaching new concepts and skills. We’ve been at this awhile so it’s easy for us to imagine students in the room when we’re recording.

Still, we understand that the video is only one tool in our teaching toolbox.

Many types of learners

There are so many ways to learn today. Some of us prefer to read or look at pictures, while others dig videos. In fact, I bet as time moves on, most of our learning lives will be spent watching and listening rather than reading (insert sad emoji here!). Say goodbye to voice mails and hello to video mail.

How do we decide when to write and when to shoot a video? Our approach is often to do both since people learn in different ways and it never hurts to repeat concepts or instruction using multiple audio/visual elements. That includes formatted text, videos, animated movies and slide shows, audio files, interactive PDFs. and whatever other new tools pop up.

We also know that few students will move through any online training in one fell swoop so it has to be easy to pick up where they left off. An introductory video is a great way to present a recap or a preview, and to let a student refresh their memory in just a couple minutes.

My favorite aspect of using video in training is that it’s another way for me to be goofy, to have some fun, to take the stress off of the learner. This means that as a presenter, it’s my job to keep you interested and excited to be here.

Videos about making videos

We were asked by one of our favorite clients to create a training program to help their HR teams take more advantage of video and become less reliant on long, overwrought emails. Many of these folks were recruiters who found themselves repeating instructions over and over again in text.

Instead of making an applicant read a 3,000 word email with important instructions embedded in serious language, how about using a memoji to make a short video “showing” them how to prepare for an upcoming interview?

While Beth and I created a hybrid program of live workshops and online videos about making videos, we quickly realized that like most of what we teach, our students don’t just need step by step instructions; they need an injection of confidence and creativity…and confidence IN their own creativity.

I suppose that is what we are best at. Because this particular team of HR folks was off and running after our first workshop together. Once they saw how effective we were in our videos where we brought some levity to serious content, they realized that in many situations, they don’t need to be so formal in their own communications. In fact, I would argue that it’s the high-stakes communications that benefit the most from some (appropriate) levity. If I can take some of that pressure off myself and my audience, then I will become more open, use clear language (no CRAP) and be in story mode. A good video can do that.

Videos can be great tools to teach, learn, build an audience, change culture…you name the communication challenge and video can play an important role.

Will they ever take the place of everyone being in the same room? I hope not; my jokes need all the feedback they can get.

If you’re making videos these days, share some links in the comments. Would love to see more examples and I promise to listen to the audio!😀 Oh, and Instagram and LinkedIn videos count.


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