Home-made videos for home-bound leaders

During these uncertain times, there’s one thing most of us agree on – it’s good to talk. Although we’re apart, we’re finding more ways to stay connected than ever before. And that’s especially true for large businesses.

With remote-working teams, it’s critical to provide clear, reassuring and regular communication, not only to update on fast-changing strategy, but also to check in on a personal level. Few of us have ever experienced circumstances like this, so we all need regular contact and make time to take care of our physical and emotional wellbeing.

As we grow used to Zoom calls and virtual meetings, home-made video is an obvious way for leaders to communicate. But without having a camera crew, lighting or professional equipment on hand, can you do it yourself? The answer is: yes, you can. Here are some helpful do’s and don’ts to get you started with smartphone videos.

1. Clean your camera lens. That might not be the first thing on your mind, but it’s important to check for smudges and greasy fingerprints.

2. Why not ask a family member to film for you? It’s better than trying to film yourself in selfie-mode. (We don’t need to see you THAT close.) They can also hold your notes, if you need these.

3. Never hold your phone vertically. Always film in landscape mode: it mimics the horizontal alignment of our eyes and fits the laptop screens your video will likely be viewed on. If a teenager is doing the filming, you may need to stress this point – they always film portrait!

4. Make sure the smartphone is at your eye level so you don’t have to look up or down into the camera (and avoid the consequential extra chins or up-nostril view).

5. Think about sound. Bad audio can ruin a good video. Stay away from hardwood floors and floor-to-ceiling glass. Find a quiet room, ideally with some carpet and curtains, to absorb sound. For the best results, use a simple lapel mic that you can connect to your smartphone.

6. Check your light. You’re not in a studio, so natural light is your best option. If you’re using a lamp, never sit directly under the light source – it will throw shadows on unwanted places. For the most flattering view, make sure the light source is in front of you or beside you and keep it out of the shot to prevent glare.

7. Pay attention to your background: curious colleagues will always check what’s behind you. Having arty coffee-table books or Shakespeare’s complete works might make you look intelligent, but it shouldn’t look staged or self-consciously styled. Keep it natural. Art, plants and picture frames provide a calm yet personal backdrop.

8. If you have a pet, why not include them in the shot? If your dog or cat decides to make a guest appearance, don’t worry: it will add to the charm.

9. Last but not least, keep it short. Three minutes should be your maximum length, ideally less.

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