I started creating short videos, Monday through Friday, about 5 months ago. Attached to each video (except for the first couple of them) I also wrote a brief blog post.
Here is the 100th one…
(At the bottom of this article I’ll share my Top 10 Videos.)
Overall Lessons Learned…
Allow me to share a few things learned from this ongoing project. I hope this inspires you to create consistent content too!
If you want to do this consistently, it’s very helpful to clarify your own motivations. Here are a couple of reasons that may inspire you too:
Your legacy. If you had only 6 months left to live (and none of us know how long we really have), what have you learned in your field of expertise, and in your life, that is most worthwhile, most important to be shared? Give your message now… say it as soon as possible.
Service to your audience. The lessons learned from your life are important to be shared, no matter how many times the lesson has been taught by other people. (For example, we need frequent reminders to be good to ourselves, and to other people.) The human need to consume content, to be refreshed, is like the need to consume food. We don’t eat just once. We need food frequently. Serve your audience with helpful, positive content… as frequently as you can.
Service to your clients. The best free content is when you answer questions that your ideal clients have been asking you. Or should be asking you. When you create content to answer those questions, you are helping your clients, as well as your general audience. This of course will also serve your prospective clients.
The best way to volunteer. Do you ever feel guilty that you’re not serving enough at the soup kitchen? But is that the best contribution of your strengths and talents? Consider this: creating and sharing your content, your passionate message and life lessons, out of service to your audience and whomever will see it, may be your highest form of volunteering.
Ripple effects toward a better world. When you create & share content from a place of service, you are helping many more people than you can imagine. Each person you touch through your content will spread that idea or feeling, somehow, sometime, to other people… and that ripples out, person to person, to eventually touch thousands of people.
Your own rapid development. The best way to learn something is to teach it. Creating content lovingly forces you to organize your ideas, clarify them, and practice your authentic voice. Doing this consistently and casually makes this growth more gradual and pleasant.
Building your ideal tribe to grow your business. Generously sharing content is an excellent way to attract, sustain, and grow a loyal audience. Some of these audience members will become your clients. Some will be loyal fans who refer you to others. And some will be lurkers who may never let you know, but you have changed their life and their world for the better.
The method here of “consistent casual content” is to make your creating & sharing as easy and natural as possible for you.
(Maybe you don’t like to be on camera, and instead you prefer to write. Then do that!)
Whichever medium of creation energizes you the most, put it into your regular schedule. Make it as easy as you can by selecting the most natural time of day for you.
For example, my most natural time to create my video content is when I am walking my dog. Secondly, the most natural time for me to write my blog post is right before bed.
Try out different times and places to create content, and see what works for you!
Keep your tools simple. To make my videos I use my iPhone 5 (which is now 3 generations old!) and for the microphone I use EarPods which is the default earpiece that is included with the iPhone.
About 80 videos into this project, I bought a cheap Selfie Stick, and now I use it. But if I don’t want to bring it along on my walk, I just use my own arm!
The more you create content the easier it becomes.
So make it easy for yourself to get going.
Tips For Selfie Videos
The background / backdrop of a video is important. Some people recommend keeping it very plain (i.e. against a blank wall) so that you can stand out more. My preference is to record these outside, with Mother Nature as the backdrop. I think it makes the video more interesting, and I wish to plant the seed in my viewers to long for the great outdoors, to spend more time there!
Lighting on your face is important. Before you start recording make sure there is enough light, but not too much directly on your face. (I show you in the above video.)
If you’re doing an indoors video, either face the window so there’s natural light on you (as in the video below) or get a lighting kit which only costs about $50.
To keep the background interesting, you can either take a slow walk (if you have a selfie stick), or slowly pan around (turn your body), just like I do in this video.
2016 Update: I no longer feel like I have to pan around. I can mostly be still. As long as the content itself is interesting, that’s what matters more :)
Make sure you are somewhere that isn’t noisy or windy.
(In some of my videos you can hear Buddy barking loudly and it’s not pleasant!)
If you’re using an earpiece like I do, make sure the microphone isn’t clinking against your clothing, or rubbing against your hair.
Experiment and listen to your own video to see if you notice those things.
One of the most common mistakes people make is they look at THE SCREEN while they are recording. As a result, the viewer doesn’t feel the eye contact with the speaker.
Instead, LOOK AT THE CAMERA LENS, not at the video screen. This takes practice. Watch the above video to see exactly what I mean.
It’s ok to look away sometimes … just like you do when talking to someone in person … it adds to visual interest to the video.
Smile at beginning of video and at the end, to make it more pleasant.
You might want to put your phone on Do Not Disturb (or Airplane Mode) before recording, if you are likely to get texts, calls, or other pings. Then, remember to turn it back to normal mode after recording!
To record, I used to use my default iPhone earpiece as the microphone. I wear both to give feeling of balance, instead of just wearing the microphone (right) side.
To eliminate the look of an earpiece, buy a lapel mic.
Whenever it’s not windy, using the iPhone normal mic, without the earpiece, is fine. Example…
Be clear with yourself what time in the video you will start wrapping it up. For me it’s around 3 minutes. Currently it takes me 60–90 seconds to finish what I am saying. I’m aiming to move the wrap-up time closer to 2 minutes. Eventually I want the whole video to be under 3 minutes, for greater viewability.
2016 Update: I stopped caring about trying to wrap up a video so quickly. Now my outside videos can be 5–10 minutes long, and my inside videos, 10–20 minutes. I find that the quality of the content is more important than how short it is.
Know what you’re going to say before you start recording. While I’m walking to the dog park, I am thinking about and memorizing the few main points of my video. Aim for 2–3 main points, as that’s all you’ll have time to talk about in a 2–4 minute video. It helps me to count on my fingers as I memorize the ideas.
Try asking a question at the beginning to engage the viewer’s thought. (In some of my better videos I do this.)
Use hand gestures to emphasize your points. It helps the reader learn, and makes the video more interesting.
Amp up your energy a bit more than you would when talking in person i.e. bigger facial expressions, or speaking a bit faster, or using bigger hand gestures. Video needs to be more dramatic than talking to someone 1–1 in person.
Give more range to your voice… sometimes higher pitch, sometimes lower. Sometimes louder, sometimes a whisper. This makes your speech more engaging.
It’s good to pause for dramatic effect, right before you give the punchline to an important point. In fact, it’s ok to pause every now and then throughout the video.
If you apply even a fraction of the above tips, your selfie videos will be more interesting than most! :)
Alternative to Memorizing lots of Content
If you’re making an important video, e.g. for your website homepage or landing page, you will want to be more precise about what you say, to keep the video as concise and effective as possible.
In that case, try this:
- Script out what you want to say.
- Memorize just 5–10 seconds at a time.
- Record each 5–10 second segment, but alternate between close-up and farther camera angles.
- Edit the segments together, or have it done affordably by finding video editors on Fiverr.
You can see example of such a video below, where every 5–10 seconds is swapped between close-up and farther. It looks good!
Tips For Webcam Videos
If you’re going to do your videos indoors, at your computer, then you’ll find this 2-minute video helpful:
1. First, see if you look good in a mirror, e.g. make sure you are wearing a nice top (at least not unkempt or distracting), do your hair, put on makeup if needed.
2. Don’t be back-lit. Light should be facing you, not from the back or the side. You can simply have a desklamp placed behind your computer so it shines on your face. Or better yet, face a window so you get natural light on your face.
3. Position your computer / video camera so that it is just slightly above your face, rather than you looking down on the camera.
4. Center yourself (your face) in the video frame. If you use a desklamp to light yourself, center the desk lamp behind the camera.
5. If you’re using a webcam (laptop, tablet) don’t be too close to the camera, because it’s a wide-angle lens and will exaggerate parts of your face. So sit (or stand) back.
6. Keep the background (what’s behind you) simple and uncluttered. (Or alternatively, make it visually interesting.)
7. It’s tempting to look at your video when you’re recording… don’t do it! Look *directly* at the lens. (And use soft eyes, instead of an intense glare.) When you look at your video (instead of the lens), the audience can tell that you are *not* making eye-contact. Instead, practice looking at the lens, and speaking as if that lens were the audience.
A few tips, not from the video, that I’ll add:
8. Try smiling a bit more than you might usually smile … our faces look better when smiling smile emoticon
9. To make the video look more interesting, use slightly bigger facial expressions than you normally would. (This takes practice!) Or, use some hand gestures.
10. Ultimately, look at each video you record and each time, think about 1 tweak/improvement you can try when you make the next video. If you keep doing this, you’ll get better and better at it!
Eventually you will feel very comfortable on camera, and your audience will like it more and more!
Get an external webcam
If you’re going to record videos indoors, via your computer, consider getting an external webcam to make your videos look a lot better…
What do you believe is important for people to know, to remember, or to think more about?
The world needs to hear ideas spoken from your perspective, in your voice.
It doesn’t matter how many people have said it before. You need to say it to your tribe. We human beings need reminders of important ideas, often, because we easily forget.
Therefore, make it easy for yourself to share your message. Keep it as casual as you need. Think of my casual dog-walk videos! May that be an inspiration for you to create more content.
Keep sharing. Your voice is needed.
Crowdsourcing Your Feedback
On this anniversary of my videos, I would like to “crowd source” feedback — you are an important part of this.
1. What’s one thing you’ve most appreciated about my articles or videos? In other words, what should I keep doing? Comment on Facebook here.
2. What’s one thing I could improve upon, or do differently in my articles or videos, to make it more interesting & helpful for you? You can publicly comment, or give me anonymous feedback here: www.georgekao.com/feedback
I love receiving suggestions for improvement!
My Top 10 Videos
Here are my top 10 videos of 2015… (click on the links below, and enjoy!)
All my short videos organized by topic:
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