This is the second instalment of a two part post. Read Part One here. 

3. Keep it simple!

If you can take a selfie you can take a video, and talking involves way less effort than typing. Forget about being the next Brad Pitt or Nicole Kidman. In the age of social media, production quality isn’t the top priority – it’s the quality of the content that reigns supreme. As thought leaders, academics are valuable sources of information – so you have nothing to worry about! When it comes to filming, keep it simple. Place your phone somewhere stable and just start talking. The biggest mistake I see from amateur filmmakers and content creators is trying to be too ambitious with their work. Forget music, green screen, fancy animations and cutting to 500 angles if you’re new at this and doing it by yourself. Just get straight to the point and deliver solid information. Get in and out quick – your audience is there to gain information from you that’ll be beneficial to their degree.


4. Okay, but how do I make better videos?

So hopefully by now I’ve convinced you to invest in creating video content. So now let’s look at improving the quality of your video. Here are a few common mistakes I see done all the time by amateur content creators. By addressing these small issues, you can dramatically increase the quality of your video:

  • Be in a quiet environment. Try doing a test recording: what your microphone picks up will sound completely different to what you can hear. Turn off air conditioning, avoid busy areas, avoid spots where planes fly over and trees or other  areas that may be inhabited by birds or cicadas.
  • If you don’t have access to a decent microphone, don’t go too far away from your camera. The closer you are, the clearer your voice will be.
  • Never use a window as your background unless the blinds are closed, or you’ll look like a silhouette.
  • When filming from a phone, film horizontally. Filming vertically will give you black bars on the sides when uploaded.
  • Avoid reading from a script. You’ll probably sound bored or it’ll be obvious you’re reading and that kills engagement. It’s better to have ums and ahs and think off the top of your head than to sound like you’re reading.
  • Put your phone on airplane mode to avoid interruptions from calls, etc.
  • Keep the subject’s eye line in the top third of the screen.
  • Natural lighting often means a better quality image. So open any doors or windows if possible.

……And don’t forget to smile! ?


So let’s recap!

  1. As an academic you have an enormous supply of information, so why not use video to create your own online library of video resources?
  2. Thanks to social media and it’s current focus on video content, you have an awesome opportunity here to generate a following.
  3. Don’t spend 100 years trying to make it look like a Hollywood production. Keep it simple, personal and straight to the point.
  4. There are plenty of ways to improve the quality of your videos, but the most important things are to use natural light, don’t be too far away from the camera/microphone, and make sure you’re in a quiet place when recording.

So there you have it. Whether you’re trying to engage your current students or reach a new audience online, video is an exciting and engaging (and easy) communication tool to take advantage of. Good luck and happy shooting!

Feature image credit: Rodion Kutsaev.

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