You Tube + cell phone video = viral video
Okay, that may be an over-simplification of how easy it is to go viral, but let’s just say, it’s totally possible for just about anyone with a clever idea, a cell phone and internet access to get their face and their story in front of hundreds, thousands, and if you go viral, potentially millions of viewers. Even if you don’t have any designs on viral video fame and fortune, odds are, you’ll be going on camera at some point in your life, even if it’s something as simple as FaceTiming or Skyping your friends, family, or a business contact.
In the old days, say, 15 years ago, most mere mortals rarely, if ever, got their chance to be on screen. That was pretty much the realm of actors, actresses, sports celebrities, reality show stars and TV anchors and reporters.
Now, it’s a level playing field where virtually anyone can get on camera and be seen. So, as someone who spent the better part of 2 decades in front of a TV camera, my mission in this blog is to share my top 5 professional pointers on putting your best face forward when the camera starts rolling.
1. Put on a happy face. Ever wonder why TV news anchors always look so great? Aside from their natural good looks, they know that a little make-up helps them put their best face forward. For women looking to be on their own video or Skype call, this means the requisite foundation, blush, lipstick and mascara. For guys, it can be as simple as a little translucent face powder to keep your forehead – and if you are sporting a shaved head – to keep your chrome dome from blinding the viewer. A little tinted powder can also tamp down your 5 O’Clock shadow, unless, of course, it is part of your look.
2. Avoid wardrobe malfunctions. This sounds pretty easy, but the key here is to keep your clothes from overpowering your message. Avoid pure black, pure white, bright neon colors, tiny stripes or busy patterns. All of these wardrobe no-no’s can keep you from looking your best and even become a distraction for the person on the other side of the video screen.
3. Check your rearview. Besides distracting clothing, you also need to think about what’s in the background of your video. Be pro-active to avoid embarrassing photo bombing by wandering dogs, cats, or other assorted family members on your next Skype video chat or Google hangout with your boss. It’s also a good idea to think about home or office decor. Check to be sure that there aren’t any pictures, plants, lamps, etc. directly behind you. The last thing you want is for it to appear that you’ve got a lamp sitting on your shoulder, or a ficus tree growing out of the top of your head.
4. You light up my life. Lighting is something that many Skype users and home video creators tend to overlook. Check to see where the lighting is coming from. Ideally, you want your face to be the place that’s illuminated. Elements in the background, not so much. Avoid sitting with a sunny window behind you, because because back-lighting will overpower the camera lens, leaving you in the dark.
5. Quiet on the set. The one thing that’s worse than bad lighting, is having a perfect video ruined by screeching sirens or the roar of a jet flying overhead. I actually worked on a project once where the talent was taping an interview in the studio, and I could distinctly hear the wail of a train whistle in the background. For those of you working from home, other audio no-no’s to consider are barking dogs, crying babies or people carrying on a conversation within earshot. Odds are, if you can hear it, so can the person you’re chatting with. You don’t want to compete with these things to just be heard, to say nothing of throwing off your concentration and making yourself come off as amateurish.
Keep these five tips in mind the next time you get in front of a video camera, and I promise that you’ll be pleased with the results. Heck, you may even become the next viral video superstar.