Being on video

Yesterday was the first time that I had been filmed on a video camera.  Not the first time ever, I have been filmed many times on holiday and at weddings and that sort of thing but the first time that I had been asked to sit down and make a presentation in front of a video camera.

I can tell you that it was an experience that I did not enjoy.

It all started because we are putting on some training around our approach to customer service, under the banner of ‘Customer First’ and it was felt to be a good idea if we could start the training with a short video on what good customer service means to me and my team.  Now I’ve done many presentations before and followed the same approach, jot down some ideas, put them into a PowerPoint and Bob’s your uncle and so this is the approach that I tried for the video.

I can tell you that my approach let me down.

We got everything ready, the camera was set up, I positioned myself in a suitably relaxed pose and ‘Action!’ was called.  I stuttered, I stammered, I mumbled and I missed my lines.  I was all over the place, incoherent and obviously ill prepared.  It was clear that I needed to do a lot more preparation and that winging it was not an option.  Video was a much crueller medium than a presentation to an audience where you can make mistakes, you can hesitate and you can take time to construct your next phrase.  On video you have none of these luxuries and on top of all that you feel highly embarrassed at talking to an inanimate and unresponsive object.

Fortunately at this point the camera developed a fault and we were able to put it all off until another day, another shoot.

Today I am much better prepared.  I thought about what I wanted to say, printed it out in font size 48 and stuck it on the walls directly behind the camera, a sort of primitive autocue. The camera rolled and I tried it six times in row but still none of them were perfect. The autocue was fine, it worked really well but at the start I rushed my words, getting it over within just over a minute and a half.  By the sixth time I had added a full minute but I just did not come across naturally, more like a stuffed shirt than a presenter.  We hoped that from the six takes we could cobble together a working piece but I’d moved about too much and none of the video would splice together without looking jerky.

It seems that video is just not my medium.  I now have the greatest regard for people who make it look so easy.

Tomorrow we are going to try it again but this time a combination of running thorough what I had prepared for today and some sort of interview with a real person asking the questions.  I hope that it goes better as we need it ready in a couple of days.  I must remember to relax, breathe deeply, smile, speak slowly and not fluff my lines.

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