I started a video blog documenting my journey fighting breast cancer across America. President-elect Barack Obama started a video blog documenting how he plans to implement change in America. What do we have in common? Absolutely nothing; His vlog is way better.
So if you are like me and want to video blog like Obama, I offer these tips that I picked up from watching the President-elect’s weekly video address.
1. Each word counts
Use as few words as you can, making the ones you use count. Each word should have its own moment to shine as you move through your presentation. Stay away from using complex terms that the average viewer may not know. Your words must be understood to be enjoyed by as many as possible to keep your video engaging.
2. Stay under five minutes
We all have web enabled ADD. Please keep your content short and snappy. Under five minutes should be your target. This is not to say video blogs cannot be longer, but unless you are producing the next Batman film, play it safe.
Cut. Say something. Cut. Have something happen. Cut.
A long static shot is the kiss of death. Thank you, MTV.
If you are limited with what you are working with, use pictures where you can. iMovie has a great Ken Burns effect that you should take advantage of. Do not ever let your pictures remain still.
4. I will tell you …
The key to any presentation: Tell us what you’re going to talk about, tell us what you’re talking about, and then end by telling us what you have told us. ADD, remember? Plus audiences love to measure outcomes, so by telling people what you’re going to say, saying it, and then repeating it, they will feel like you delivered on your promise; This is important in building trust with the viewer.
5. Well Lit
Shoot during the day if you do not have a well lit space to film in. Unless you are filming the next …
6. Not HD? Switch. Now.
Sure to be controversial: If you noticed, all of Obama’s vidoes are in HD. In February, the United States is asking broadcasters to switch their signals to digital. Terrestrial radio is starting to push listeners to invest in digital radio receivers. Most filmmakers have made the transition to digital.
I know, HD camcorders and web cameras are expensive; I don’t have one yet either. As soon as you can, switch to HD. The audience expects this quality, and if you do not offer it, they will find someone who does.
7. Audio please
If you visit Change.gov, you will notice the video blogs have the audio of the video blog available. If you can extract the audio, make sure you do the same. This is great for viewers who may want to listen to your material while driving or on mobile devices without screens.
Like audio, the text of the video blog is available for Obama’s vlog. Now, you do not have to follow a script, you should, but providing the text is helpful to readers who may not be able to hear, may not be able to watch at work, and readers who might want to quickly copy and paste the text to send to others. Yes, they can do that with a link, but again: Some might be at work and cannot watch your video.
9. What Am I Watching?
Tell your audience what the video is about before making them watch. Their time is limited, and not every sketch, rant, review will be of interest. You should accept this and help your audience use their time wisely.
I once saw a presentation on Youtube where a representative of Google stated that the most searched item in the world is a beautiful woman. If you look like me and you are video blogging about the same subject Obama girl is video blogging about, you will find yourself in a potentially losing battle for viewers.
Yes. Personal branding and video quality matter, but on a purely superficial level? She wins every time.
So, what do you do against insurmountable beuaty? Take care of yourself before you get on camera. This could be anything from showering to dressing your best. If you seriously want to pursue video blogging, your personal appearance is key. We are Americans. We judge.
Barack’s Bonus Tips
Extra video thoughts:
End On A High Note
End your video blog on a positive note. I may not look like Obama Girl, but I am dedicated to what I am doing and I am encouraging my audience to join me in my project. Engage your viewers and give them something to look forward to each time.
If you promise weekly video, deliver weekly. Do not falter without advanced notification to your viewers.
Fast Start, Faster Finish
Focus your time on the content. Do not waste time. Start and end like Obama: “Good Morning”, “Goodbye”.
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