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Best tools and steps to prepare yourself for vlogging, interviews, and webinars

Let your audience see you!

Getting in front of the video camera can be an intimidating experience. But it might also be that extra push you need to really connect with your audience. Being prepared with the right equipment and content is to deliver a video blog, online interview, or webinar that will capture your audience is key.

But is it for you?

This can be a tough decision. Selling yourself on the internet is already hard enough - figuring out what to write about, what style of writing is right for your audience, how to keep followers engaged.

I've been in the corporate world long enough to know the pressures of public speaking. It's borderline torture for me. I literally get heart palpitations, my body shakes, my voice trembles... just the thought of it gives me an ulcer. But don't get me wrong, I'm actually pretty good at public speaking. My delivery is always loud and clear and my content kept interesting. I keep the audience engaged and always include some humor. I receive positive feedback each time. So why do I get so freaked out? I honestly couldn't tell you. It's just the way I have always been.

I love watching some of my favorite people vlog and give interviews. They are so lively and inspiring. And I certainly hope they continue to do their vlogs, else a lot of people would miss out on their awesomeness.

Take a look at Problogger for some very professional speakers. These folks have a lot of confidence and great content. I especially appreciate when there's text below of what they spoke about so I can refer to it anytime.

Why you need to consider getting in front of the camera

Of all the bloggers, vloggers, YouTubers, and podcasters I follow, they have all at one time or another point out how being in front of the camera was one of the best business decisions they made. There's not one person who doesn't wish they hadn't started sooner. Connecting with your audience is key no matter what type of business you run. And what better way to connect than to be face-to-face with people who actually want to listen to you?

So which method will you try?

Here are some things to help you be prepared and come off looking like a professional:

You don't have to spend a lot to get started.  You can simply start with your phone for practice, if it's a relatively decent one, and then upgrade your equipment when you want to be serious about creating videos.

Content is King

  • What are you going to talk about? The possibilities are endless, but here are a few great ideas to get you started:
    • Think about key articles that you wrote that really had an impact with your audience. Is there a spin-off from that article such as a Q&A session with the questions you received in your comments that would really benefit each of your audience? Or perhaps a more detailed discussion you can dive into on the same topic? You could even bring in an expert to give their view.
    • Is there a training series or a "how-to" you can host? Break these into several small sessions to keep your audience coming back for more.
    • Do you want to get close and personal and give your audience insight to who you are? This could be something you do weekly.
    • You can promote your products and the benefits they will provide, or have a teaser before a big launch.
    • I love to see someone who does a bit of all the above. It's nice to be able to learn something, but it's also nice to get to know who you are learning from.
    • Keep it interesting and typically around 15 to 30 minutes. Just long enough to say something important, but not so long that you will lose your audience.
    • Remember! Post the actual content of the video posted below or a link to the content so people can refer to it easily or when audio is not an option.

Style & STRUCTURE

  • Find a style that works for you.  This may take time, just as it takes time to find your style and your voice in your writing.
  • How will you structure your discussion?  Write out an outline of exactly what you want to discuss and in the specific order you want to speak.  It is too easy to go off on a tangent and not stick to you main subject unless you are organized and prepared.
  • For instance, you can start off with a simple introduction each time.  It can be something like this:

Hello, it's Christine from Left Side Art and I'm glad you can join us once again for another great discussion on how to grow your creative business.

Let's break this intro down.  There are several things happening here:

  1. First, I'm saying Hello, which is just good manners.
  2. I use my first name to remind my audience I'm a real person behind the web page they rely on for information.
  3. "...I'm glad you can join..." says I'm happy to see them!
  4. "...join us once again for another great discussion..." reminds them there are other vids they should check out if they haven't already, and it's a hint there will be more vids in the future to come.
  5. "...grow your creative business..." is just one more time to reiterate your business tag line.
  • You can use the same concept for your closing.

It was great speaking with you on this topic and I hope to hear from you in the comments below.  Tell us your experiences and how you were able to improve your business in this specific area.  If you have not yet tried this approach, I urge you to go now and try it for yourself.  Next week, we will be back for more lively discussions on how you can take your small business to the next level.

Ok, so this was more involved than the intro, but you want to accomplish a bit more here:

  1. There's a reason the person watching you clicked play and didn't just jump over your video.  If they have made it to the end, then they are likely ready to tune in for more.
  2. Asking for feedback in the comments below your video is a great way to get people engaged and helping each other out.  People love to talk about themselves!
  3. Next, we gave them something to go do by literally saying "...try it for yourself...".  We want them to remember you.  What better way than having them actually try what you suggested?
  4. Lastly, we want them to come back for more, so let's remind them there will be more coming.

Feel free to take the intro and closing examples I provided for your own use.  I only ask you change my name and business name to your own.

Best tools and steps to prepare yourself for vlogging, interviews, and webinars
Best tools and steps to prepare yourself for vlogging, interviews, and webinars

Confidence and Eye Contact  

  • Strut your stuff by wearing a nice outfit
  • Keep your delivery engaging: fluctuation in your voice is better than monotone
  • Smile, laugh, relax.  Act as natural as you can if you were speaking right to a person.  Tape a headshot of a person to your camera so you are reminded of this.  Don't worry, no one but you and me will actually know you ever did that.
  • Practice makes perfect.  This goes back to the basics we all learned in middle school.  Practice in the mirror, practice in front of friends and family, or in this case, you can simply practice in front of your camera.  Critique yourself, or email your video to others to let you know what you can improve on.  This may sound daunting, but it will definitely be worth  it in the end when you get to put out an outstanding video that you are proud to share.
  • If you need to pause and review your notes, you can always edit this out later.  Just be sure to be looking straight at the camera when you start talking again and not with your head down.

Interviews

  • Interviewing another person (either in person or on the web through Skype or something similar) is a great way to provide your audience with a new perspective. It can also break up your vlogging sessions to give you additional topics. We've all heard of guest blogging, so I guess this is more or less guest vlogging?
Best tools and steps to prepare yourself for vlogging, interviews, and webinars
Best tools and steps to prepare yourself for vlogging, interviews, and webinars
  • To record your Skype sessions, go to Pamela for Windows and eccam for Macs
    • Skype also has Skype Translator in development which translates two languages in real time.
    • Google Video or Live Hangouts is a great way of broadcasting live on YouTube with a group of people you invite and it is later saved in your YouTube account.

Timing

  • How often do you vlog? Depending on your type of business, you may find once a week appropriate whereas others may feel once every two weeks is better.  It is hard to find the balance where you are able to keep your audience coming back for more, but not so often you overwhelm them with information.
  • You also have to take your own schedule into consideration.  Create a demo video and time yourself on how long it takes for you to create your script, including all of the research that you may have to do, and the time it will take to edit the video to your liking.  This will give you a better idea of what type of commitment you can make.
  • Staying consistent is key.  It is easy to be anxious and excited to get started and post 3 or 4 videos in your first month.  But then life catches up and you fail to post a video for the next two months.  Start off slow.  You can always add more later once you get in a groove you know you can handle.  Quality of your content in your videos is just as important as the content on your website.

The sound and display quality is just as important as the content quality

Camera

  • It has good quality, simple to use, and not that expensive. But, first start with your smart phone before making a purchase. It might serve your current needs, or you can at least practice with your phone and give you an idea of what to expect.
  • There are bundling packages you can get that come with a floor and table top tripod, memory card, a card reader integrated into an USB stick, and all the extras you'll need for around $199.  It depends on what you already have and will need.
  • Video editing software

    • There are many out there to choose from in all price ranges
    • This is my favorite which is easy to use: iMovie for Apple
      • iMovie comes with unique themes and video filters, you can voice over or add music, and there are movie trailers to pick from. 
      • For windows, you can download Windows Live Movie Maker from download.cnet.com for free.
      • If you are planning to do a how-to and you want to record a video of what you are doing on your laptop, Screencast-O-Matic is great to use.  They have a free version or a $15/yr pro version.  With the pro version, you can utilize your own domain and a lot of other really great features.

    Microphone

     

    • This microphone by Audio-Technica has great sound quality for its price and it has both connections so you don't have to worry about upgrading later.  This mic will run you around $60, but is just as good as the more expensive ones ($200-300 range).
     

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    Try getting in front of the camera. Post your video on your site or YouTube and see what others think. You just might be surprised!

    Please note: The prices mentioned above are approximate and were as of March 16, 2015. Find what fits in your budget!