Talking to the video camera should be the same as talking to a person in real life. That’s the viewer’s perception on the other side of the lens. It appears you are talking directly to them.
Writing a script is fine, especially if you want to make sure you cover something in detail, but be sure you write the script in plain language.
Scripts are not written in the language your English composition teacher required. They are written as spoken word, like the dialogue in a play.
If you don’t need to include a lot of detail, you may want to simply tape a bullet point list under the lens to keep your comments on track during the video. Then talk to the camera as you would to a friend sitting across the table from you.
Read your script out loud before recording it and think about whether your neighbor would speak that way while chatting over the back fence. Ask a friend if what you are saying makes sense and if any phrase or word is something people write but do not say.
Of course, the language you choose will depend on the intended audience. If you know your viewers will be tech- savvy or doctors or lawyers or engineers, you may want to include a little insider jargon to show your expertise. But use it sparingly. Always aim for clarity first.
Even in the most sophisticated audience, there may be newbies who aren’t up on the lingo yet and you'll lose them. Clear simple language is generally the best way to make your point with any audience.
CHOOSE WORDS THAT WORK
A writer colleague was recently dashing off a quick couple of lines for the talent during a shoot and wrote something like, “we thank you for your inquiries.” Hmm. I can honestly say I have never heard anyone SAY "inquiries."
Is it correct English? Sure, but it would make the talent sound like they were reading a script and the trick in on-camera presentation is to sound like you are talking.
Plus, if a viewer has to think about what a word means even for a moment, they'll be stuck in their head and miss the next part of your message.
In spoken language, you use repetition, sentence fragments, unusual grammar and vocabulary constructions and colloquialisms you would never include in a formal written speech. And that's okay because just like in a face-to-face conversation, your facial expression, gesturing, inflection, etc. will get the point across.
ON-CAMERA SKILLS ARE LEARNED
No one is born talking to people through a video camera, though some do it more naturally than others from the start. Still, everyone can get better with a little training and practice.
When you appear confident and comfortable on-camera and speak in plain language, the people watching you feel comfortable and are more likely to believe what you're saying.
When your script is right and you're able to speak naturally, you appear more credible and authentic.
DO's AND DON'Ts
You don't want to look like a stiff mannequin staring into the camera lens and mouthing a written text full of tech speak, business speak or legalese with zero personality or warmth in your expression. You do want to talk to each viewer as a friend. Don't read to them.
Anyone who has a message to share can benefit from developing their on-camera skills. Presenting your authentic personality on-camera can go a long way in selling your ideas, products, services and yourself.
Use the contact form below to email me about video coaching. We can work together in person or online in a private Google Hangout or on Skype. I can help you develop the scripts and visuals to produce videos for your website, YouTube channel, Vimeo, and more.
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