Hi there, how’s lockdown treating you? I hope you’re keeping safe and well.
If you’re on LinkedIn, and we haven’t been virtually introduced, (let’s connect) you might have noticed the #LockdownLearning hashtag so I’m keen to know if you’re trying to learn something new? Just drop me an email and let me know. It’d be great to hear if there’s something you’d like to learn but haven’t found the right resource – maybe I can help?
Anyway, in this update I’m talking polish. Nah, not car or furniture polish, though I’m betting if you’re working from home home you’re cleaning and tidying anything that doesn’t move right now!
Nope, I’m talking pro-polish. What it takes to lift the amateur to the professional. And the great thing is a little effort spent in the right area can lift your content quality disproportionately.
My tale of woe, and what I learnt along the way.
My MacBook keyboard died a few months ago and I thought I might be looking at having to shell out some serious coin to get a new one. But I thought I’d try and have a crack at repairing it myself. I studied electrical engineering, how difficult can it be?
Well in the end it wasn’t that tricky. After I had bought a set of screwdrivers to open up my MacBook (seriously Apple, do you have to have unique screws on your products?!) it only took the replacement of one part. £30 was all it took to bring my MacBook back to life!
Here’s the training bit.
Well, it wasn’t just £30. It was also a lot of time watching YouTube videos. And something struck me when I was watching them. The presenters were generally very knowledgeable, but their videos were awful.
No charisma, no spark, they sounded uninterested and monotone. The only thing that stopped me from giving up and heading to the Apple store was the thought of making it rain for Tim Cook and the Apple money making machine.
If you’re trying to promote yourself as an expert, and promote your business, you need to present an image that people feel comfortable with and reassured by. Having things like your washing drying in the background, and sounding like you had your dog euthanised earlier in the day, really doesn’t make me want to do business with you.
And you need to treat your training videos in the same way. Look at how the trailers for TV shows are created. Nice channel and show logos, teasers of the content, appropriate voiceovers and a neat wrap up at the end.
So let’s get to the secret sauce for lifting your content from amateur to professional. Here’s the recipe.
- A good handful of charisma – look and sound engaged about what you’re presenting.
- A large portion of knowledge – know what you’re talking about but don’t overwhelm your audience, everyday language over technobabble everyday.
- A high quota of quality – make sure you’re filming in focus and that WE CAN HEAR YOU.
- A bunch of branding – company tag lines, animated logos or opening screens, logo watermarks.
Now I can’t really help you that much with the top 2 ingredients, other than saying just be yourself and try to relax and let your knowledge come out in a clear way. People connect with people, not machines. Be a person, the kind of person you’d like to talk to.
But what about points 3 and 4?
Quality – please ensure the lens of your camera or phone is clean! All the pro-polish in the world doesn’t make a dime of difference if it looks like you’re filming in soft focus like in the old Hollywood movies.
And sound is just as important as the visuals. You will probably be filming using a phone or camera that doesn’t have an external microphone. Now that’s OK, as long as you’re in a quiet environment and you speak clearly towards the camera or phone.
You can use also bluetooth earpods or even the earphones that came with your phone if they have a mic on them to record your audio in better quality if you don’t have an external mic. If you want to spend a bit to improve quality always get an external mic. I highly recommend RODE mics. Feel free to drop me a line for some recommendations depending on your camera setup.
Branding – Get hold of your company branding and stick to it. If you have a company tag line – use it. If you have a company logo – use it. And as for animated logos, you can use an online freelance service like Fiverr to get someone to produce an animated logo for you at a really low cost. Heck, you can even get your logo designed there too! Though quality does vary greatly. Check out their portfolio and make sure you are getting a copyright free logo that’s unique to your business.
The super pro – EXPENSIVE APPROACH
You don’t want to shell out on buying a top end Mac with Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro for two reasons. One, that’s a whole chunk of money there. And two, it’ll take you weeks to learn how to use them.
Product recommendation time.
So my freebie for this post is a link to an online screen capture program. It’s a product I use myself and it’s a simple way to produce videos with a pro-polish.
There’s two reasons to sign up to Screencast-o-Matic. The first is the name! You should buy anything that has “O-Matic” in its name (I’m looking at you Wile E Coyote). OK, maybe don’t follow that bit of advice!
Secondly, Screencast-O-Matic allows you to record your screen and/or your webcam so you can talk over a PowerPoint slide deck or a capture of your screen and we also get to see you too, that human context really does help viewers pay attention to your video.
They have a free product which is good, but I pay for the enhanced functionality which is super cheap. Yep, I use this product myself. And as part of the Screencast-O-Matic service you also get a nice easy to use editor as well (no umms, errrs or mistakes on your videos you one-take wonder).
What are you go to tips for producing polished content?
PS If you’re on LinkedIn, and we haven’t been virtually introduced, (let’s connect). I post more often on there, and my posts are generally shorter!