January 24, 2012


lights action cameraVideo is a very powerful marketing tool. I've been deferring procrastinating because video is such a demanding medium.


You can create video by hiring an expert. You'll get fast results, but they may look generic. Skeptical? Consider TV newscasters. How different is one station from another? Professional doesn’t mean distinct. Stock photos have a similar staged look. They look a little too good.

Video bios look generic too. These days, many feature different camera angles and many cuts. The subjects look like they are
  • being interviewed with the interviewer edited out
  • reading from a teleprompter without enough practice
Expedient doesn’t mean desirable. You're not a Hollywood actor in an action movie needing microsecond cuts. You're a real person. If you know your subject, can't you talk articulately for a few minutes? You probably do all day long.

The professional/generic approach isn’t authentic enough for me. As with blogging and podcasting, I wanted to master the basics myself but …

The Fear

I haven't liked the way I look on camera. I'd feel stiff, sound unnatural and forget what I wanted to say. The solution is practice. I don't notice the camera any more. I realize that mistakes can be edited out, reduced with more takes, or just left in.

That leaves the fear of forgetting.

As a writer, I want to say exactly what I've drafted but I'm not good at memorization. I've tried using a teleprompter (Teleprompt+ on my iPad). This works well when giving a live speech but when I talk directly to the camera, you can see that I'm reading. 

I now sound reasonably natural when reading a script. Even so, speaking impromptu is 100% natural. Thanks to Toastmasters, I finally can. I'm glad I finally joined. Live but unscripted may be the ideal solution. If one take isn't quite right, you can do more. When you the recording and production yourself, there’s no cost and you improve your skills.

You'll have your own concerns. Practice is your best tool. You no longer need fancy equipment. You can start by using the video camera in your smartphone or your web cam. A separate video camera is probably best but you don't need an expensive model.

Broadcast Yourself

YouTube now allows you to publish HD videos of unlimited length. The maximum used to be 15 minutes, which is a problem for live presentations (though perhaps a relief for viewers). Here’s an example of a recent recording. There’s room for improvement but the results are good enough to ship.

You don’t have to appear on camera. You can narrate a PowerPoint presentation instead. With sharp images, the results look great when projected or viewed on a smartphone. Here’s the latest example.

If you're recording your screen, please don't use the ancient 4:3 aspect ratio (1024x768). Switch to widescreen 16:9 (though the 16:10 above is workable).


I'm hardly a video expert yet. I'm comfortable adding narration to PowerPoint. I'm comfortable speaking live and presenting live. I can now do basic editing using Adobe Premiere Elements. The next --- and most important --- step is live talking-to-the camera video.

You may want to hire a videographer but there's no harm in getting comfortable appearing on camera. Your TV debut may be next.


PS What are your video plans?

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