003: Are Your Videos Undermining Your Expertise?
The podcast dedicated to giving you a no-bullshit look at what it takes to build relationships through video. This is for the scared, the overwhelmed, and the awkward as fuck, and all those who believe diy doesn't have to mean amateur but don't know where to start ...
Welcome to the Video Matters podcast.
In this episode ...
Today I wanna talk about the shit people do in their videos that actually undermines their expertise, because if you want your videos to reflect the level of professionalism you bring to every other part of your business, then you need to make sure your videos aren’t taking you out at the knees without you realising it.
Before I dive head first into this, I want you to understand that making one or a few of these mistakes isn’t going to result in your audience throwing up their hands and screaming ‘FUCK YOU AND YOUR VIDEOS TOO’ before storming off never to be heard from again. This is not something I want you go into a downward spiral of cray cray over, okay?
These are subtle, subconscious issues that can erode at your perceived expertise. They’re cumulative, which means the more exposure someone has to them the less tolerance they’ll have, but know that not everyone will react to things the same way. We’re all our own special little snowflakes with our own likes and dislikes, so don’t panic, but definitely start reviewing and changing any behaviours that you identify from my list.
Let’s start with taking the easy route - a big mistake made by many. Now, let me be very clear here, I’m not against taking the easy route, in fact I am a huge fan, just ask my Mother.
But if it comes down to audience experience or easy route, always choose audience experience.
As I said in the last episode, if audience experience isn’t at the heart of everything you do, you’re potentially wasting valuable time and resources because a poor experience means someone isn’t going to stick around, refer you, or buy from you. And isn’t that the ultimate goal?
The easy route often looks like zero planning, winging it with a wish and a prayer. The easy route is also often about making something quick at the expense of value, because audience experience isn’t a consideration. It’s about ticking a box, getting that thing done asap, but with no real thought into what that thing’s saying about the presenter and their business. And, yes, for some types of content and some people, it works. But can you rely on it? No siree, you cannot. Nor should you if you want to appear like the expert that you are, because winging it also often translates into making it up on the spot. And making it up on the spot can be stressful, which leads me into the next mistake.
That’s a schmancy pants way of saying that what you’re feeling or thinking doesn’t match up with what you’re saying. The problem with this is that we, as humans, are excellent at picking up subtle hints that someone’s bullshitting us. Know what the signs of a bullshitter are? What you’re feeling or thinking not matching up with what you’re saying. That’s not to say you are a bullshitter, but if at any point what you say doesn’t match up with how you say it and, even more importantly, what your body does while you’re saying it, your audience isn’t actually going to listen to your words. Oh no. They’re gonna listen your body and your tone.
In fact, when it comes to that disconnect, the amount of weight put on the actual words you’re saying is around 10%. Yeah, people won’t trust what you’re saying, because everything else is saying something different. They’ll place a whopping 70% of understanding on what your body’s doing, and 20% on the way you’re using your voice to say it.
If you’re not being very clear on what you want to say, why you want to say it, how you want to say it, and at least giving it a quick out-loud practice before filming, you run the risk of not being taken seriously at all.
And if you’re nervous, that can have the same impact, because nerves can look like bullshitting, or lack of confidence in your knowledge, rather than in making videos.
Fixing this is really all about planning, and not taking the easy route. You should be making these decisions long before you press record, figuring out exactly what you’re trying to communicate, and putting the effort in to practice what you’re delivering - at least in the beginning until you learn the ropes a little more.
Pay attention to how you talk to a friend, what your voice does, how your body moves, and then mimic yourself when on screen.
Okay, let’s move on to the psychology of video, because that’s something I don’t hear about often enough in our online space, and also because it’s probably the single most common way I see people undermine their expertise and authority on camera. Probably because nobody talks about this, and we need to start!
How you frame yourself on camera tells your audience something about you. It’s subtle, it’s something we unconsciously pick up on, and most of us probably aren’t even aware of it, but it informs how people feel about you so it’s kinda a big deal.
We want to connect with our audience, right? We want to establish our expertise, but we don’t want to alienate the viewer. Well, where you place the camera, in relation to your eyeline, can do exactly that.
I know people like to put the camera slightly above them, tilted down, because wow amazeballs jawline for the win. And as someone who needs a little help in that department, I’m right there with you. But if that tilt becomes noticeable, you’re running into dangerous ground my friend. Because that downward tilt makes you look small on screen, it literally diminishes you. You are essentially saying to your audience, don’t mind me, I’m small and not important.
Conversely, and I don’t know why you’d do this because the end result is rarely flattering, shooting from below your eyeline and tilting up in a visible way can come across as aggressive and intimidating. This is where the alienating the audience part really comes in, and I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that’s something you aren’t aiming for with your videos.
So, when you’re filming, if you need that jawline help, place the camera at about eyeline level (instead of about nose level) and tilt it down ever so slightly. And add some soft lights (with daylight balanced lightbulbs) in front of you to help create shadow around your jawline, giving you the same effect. I use it in all my videos.
Another biggie is not making eye contact with the lens, often because the person on screen is watching themselves. And I get it okay, I know you just wanna make sure you’re not gurning at the camera without realising it, but the impact that lack of eye contact has with the audience is huge. How can they trust you if you won’t meet their eyes?! When I’m filming on my phone, I like to check my framing and then cover the screen with a post-it that has a big arrow drawn on it that points at the camera lens so that I can’t look at myself even if I want to.
And speaking of not making eye contact, reading from an autocue or teleprompter does the same thing. plus, it makes you look less profesh because you look like you don’t know your shit well enough to just talk about it like a regular person. Of course, if you know how to use an autocue properly then this isn’t an issue, but they require a lot of practice and technique to make them work, and this isn’t a learning curve I feel like you should have publicly. If you’re visibly reading, especially if you’re looking away from the camera lens to do so, you’re alienating your audience.
It’s time to dissect the edit. Because you are editing right?
Sending out an unpolished video is pretty much telling your audience that your idea of quality and care is fuck all. Please don’t do that.
Take the time to learn how to do a basic edit, it can really make a huge difference to the feel and impact of your video, and it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Let me let you into a couple of secrets about editing that may help you:
1) edit by looking at the audio, it’ll help you figure out a lot of stuff quicker than looking at the video. Once you’ve done a pass through that way, go back and tighten things up by the visuals. That two-pass process means you’re not tweaking and tweaking and tweaking to get things right.
2) your first video will take hours and hours and hours to edit. It’s supposed to, it’s where you making all your editing decisions: what music to use, what particular brand colour to use here, what particular brand font to use there, how do I want this to appear, what do I want this graphic to look like. That’s not a quick process, so don’t beat yourself up if three days go by before you finish.
Because, and here’s the best part, you can then use all those things as a copy and paste exercise for your next videos. Need to add in a graphic with your social media handles on at the beginning of your video? Easy! Copy and paste it from that first video. Wanna add music. Simples! Copy and paste it from that first video. Have an end board with text? Voila! Copy and paste it from that first video.
Literally every other video you make after that first one will be much much faster to edit, because you’ve already made 80% of the editing decisions!
Okay, so now I’ve convinced you to edit if you weren’t already, let’s look at what not to do in the edit.
And it kinda comes back to that subtle, subconscious communication that was a bitch about camera framing, but this time it’s because the entertainment industry has been subliminally teaching us a secret language. I’m not even joking.
You’ve been trained in transitions, that’s the way one piece of footage stops and another one starts. Usually that’s with a cut, where it’s a complete stop of both visual and audio on the first clip, and the complete start of both visual and audio on the next smooshed up next to each other with no gap or effect to smooth the way. That’s the preferred transition, and the one I recommend people use, because a cut can be invisible and a good editor makes their edits invisible. And by that, I mean the edit doesn’t jar the viewer out of the experience of watching but supports and contributes towards that experience.
Problem is, people can find them tricky, so they go for a drag and drop solution from their editing software’s bank of transitions. That usually means the fade. This is the one where the video and audio of the first clip, mixes into the video and audio of the second. As the first one goes down, the second one goes up. And that sounds great and all, except for that pesky subliminal messaging the entertainment industry has taught us.
Because a fade, used in the middle of footage, rather than to or from black at the beginning or end of a video, that means something you probably don’t want to be saying. It means time has passed.
Think about it, let’s say you’re making a talking head video for YouTube. It’s likely it’s a tutorial, where you're explaining something. Now imagine, as you’re talking the clip fades into another clip of you talking, and what that’s just told your audience. You’ve basically just told them you waffled. In fact, you’ve told them you’ve waffled for so long you had to chop all that out. Waffling’s bad, because it sounds like you don’t know your shit well enough to be succinct. Now, you may have been concise as all hell, but by using that particular transition, you’ve told your audience something different. And audience experience is the holy grail here, not yours.
Take the time to figure out the cut, really it comes down to how close that cut is to what you’re saying, and finding that sweet spot your gut says is the right place. A little bit of practice helps you figure out what too look for and then you can replicate it for every other video. Everyone’s tastes are different, and everyone’s speaking pace is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for this except dragging those cuts backwards and forwards until you find the right place.
So the next time you go to make a video, take a moment to think about what I’ve said, and make sure you’re not only showing up as an expert, but using video in a way that backs that up.
Tors is a television professional, who studied all aspects of television production before launching her career spanning almost a decade. She's worked with a BAFTA nominated production team, has her own entry on imdb.com, and has even walked the red carpet several (terrifying) times.
She's had chips thrown at her by David Tennant (it was an accident, he's got terrible aim), she's interviewed some amazing actresses, and she attended the cast and crew screening of Empire Strikes Back at the grand old age of four.
Now she lives in south Wales with a large dog and a small cat, where she uses the knowledge she gained in her television years and beyond, to help online biz owners step in front of the camera and connect with their audience.