By Steve Singleton
The Eyes Have It
Remember your high school speech class? Your teacher told you that eye contact is extremely critical to making a good speech. The more you look down, or over your audience's heads, or to the side of the room instead of eyeballing them, the less effective your speech, presentation, or monologue is.
You know this is true. How often have you listened closely to a teacher who lectures to the class without ever looking up? How powerful is the preacher who reads his sermon and never connects eye to eye, with you or anyone else?
One important key to effective video marketing is to establish good eye contact immediately and maintain it throughout your video shoot.
Tips for Improving Eye Contact
Here are a few pointers to help you along the way toward creating dynamic video marketing clips.
- Get used to looking directly at the eye of the camera. It's going to feel weird at first, but with some practice you can get used to it.
- Imagine you are talking with a good friend, and that the camera is his or her eyes. The more natural you can be talking with your friend in normal conversational tone, the more natural your video will come across.
- Avoid himming and hawing on camera. You have to make yourself painfully aware of all the times you say "um" and "uh." Many people do this only when they are intimidated by the all-seeing eye of the video camera. Two or three brief pauses in which you are silent are a hundred times better than saying "uh" even once.
- Have a good idea of what you want to say. The best videos you can produce are when you consistently look right into the camera and speak from the heart. Once more, practice will make you better and better at extemporizing.
- If you have trouble speaking extemporaneously (having a general message in mind, but making up the actual words you'll use as you go along), you will have to find a useful alternative. For example…
- You can memorize your script. This can be very effective if you have a good memory or practice enough to get your wording "down cold." The danger is that you will miss a few words and have trouble getting back on track. Your mind can easily go blank as you stare into the camera. Another danger is that you will remember all of your lines, but won't deliver it naturally. You may tend to rush or develop a "sing-songy" delivery that destroys your effectiveness.
- You can use notecards or a printed script. You can look down, quickly read the next thing you will say, and then look into the camera again. Many news anchors use this method. If you develop the art of glancing down only once in a while, this method can still be very effective.
- You can create a script that you are reading off the computer screen as it scrolls just below the camera. Vertical scrolling software is available on the web for free, as well as software for scrolling for which you pay a reasonable shareware fee. Of course, you can only glance down at the script and then look up again, but if you are able to do it skillfully, you can be quite effective.
- You can purchase a teleprompter that enables you to read your script as it scrolls right in front of the camera. The advantage of a teleprompter is that you can read and look at the camera simultaneously. The disadvantage is that teleprompters can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
- You can make your own teleprompter for less than $80 and use free scrolling software available on the web. This is the solution I have chosen, and I am very satisfied with it. You still have to develop the skill of reading effectively, but at least you have continual eye contact.
Hold 'Em with Your Eyes
Whichever option you choose, you will find that as you video production experience grows and your eye contact becomes more frequent and more natural, your video marketing will double and triple in its effectiveness.
Copyright ©2009 Steve Singleton
Steve Singleton has written and edited several books and numerous articles. He has been an editor, reporter, and public relations consultant. He has taught college-level Greek, Bible, and religious studies courses and has taught seminars in 11 states and the Caribbean.
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