Ask anyone what software they use for business presentations and the usual answer will be Microsoft Powerpoint or Apple’s Keynote. A few may have tried alternatives such as Prezi which are impressive to start with, but someone is bound to identify it as a templated solution. All of these solutions allow you to embed video as a part of the standard slideshow but it is nothing special and really does not stand out as a video powered solution.
If you have the capability or resources to create animated video content and really want it to form the core of your presentation, there is a solution available. Amazingly it is also free to use! The answer lies in a very powerful piece of software called VLC player. This is an open source video player available for all major platforms and is highly configurable. It allows you to play all your video slides seamlessly whilst still controlling it using a standard presentation controller.
The hard part is creating the video slides. If you are simply using back to back videos then things will be fairly straightforward, however this is unlikely to be the case as most people will want feature text, diagrams and other animated moving sequences along with their video content. Unless you have the skills in-house, you will need to find a good designer and animator to convert your ideas into video content.
The key to all good presentations is an organised content structure. As with a standard slideshow presentation you will need to outline your video content and consider how it will support your verbal presentation. You may wish for some video content to work quietly in the background or to take centre stage. The next step is to list the resources you wish to use and note what exists and what will need creating. Finally map out a timeline showing your video ‘slides’ and check that the total length fits with your presentation slot.
Your video slides are effectively small video clips lasting anywhere between a few seconds and a few minutes depending on how important it is that you control the progress. If you need to keep in sync simply find a point in the presentation that works as a break and end that video there. The key is to start the next video with exactly the same content to allow seamless ‘pausing’ and restarting. What you are creating is similar to the next and back chapter buttons on a DVD remote control.
When you have all your finished video slides you need to load them onto your presentation laptop and create and save a VLC playlist. It is a good idea to number your slide file names to help them stay in order. In VLC player preferences you will need to turn off messages and set the playlist to pause at the end of each video showing the last frame. You will need to reprogram the keys for play, pause, next and back with the key presses your presentation controller uses. Then turn off messages to stop each new video from being ‘announced’ as it progresses through the playlist.
Finally load your playlist, set VLC player to full screen and connect up your projector or large screen display. You can now play your video presentation using your remote control moving onto each new video slide as your talk progresses. As each animation will simply pause on a non moving part it will appear as your talk is perfectly timed. Now you have a seriously impressive animated video presentation that your audience will love.
Poor quality sound can quickly ruin a video production and make your videos appear unprofessional. The human brain has limited patience with this type of issue and this can result in play abandonment and the loss of a potential customer. This article looks at some of the most common sound problems in video production and how to fix them.
Quiet sound with excessive echo
The most common problem is caused by the use of the camera internal microphone. This is rarely an acceptable solution as it is simply too far away from your subject. The result is usually a quiet voice, lots of echo and other background noises. The solution to this is to use an external microphone which is as close to the subject as possible. If your camera does not allow you to do this either use another camera or move the camera as close as possible and set the zoom to wide (within reason).
Too much echo (when using external microphone)
First of all check that there is not an option to move the microphone closer still. Then take a look at the room you are recording in. Hard surfaces such as glass and concrete will reflect sound and this will add echo to your recordings. The solution here is to move to a smaller room with softer more absorbent surfaces, this will make a huge difference and increase the professionalism of your production. If this is not possible or you feel that you wish to improve the sound further, consider hanging heavy drapes or similar materials closer to the camera.
Hum or hiss interfering with the sound recording
This is usually down to the way cables are run. If you are using a wired microphone then look at the cable path, is it close to any mains cables or electrical equipment? A simple re-run of the cable may easily fix this. Next try turning off suspect electrical devices until you eradicate it. Don’t forget to turn them back on when you have finished filming! If you are still having problems it might be down to the length and/or quality of your microphone cable. In some environments using a proper ‘balanced line’ system may be the only option. This is a special professional audio solution where the majority of cable induced interference is removed.
Low quality sound (weak, tinny or crackly)
A cheap or damaged microphone will degrade the sound quality before it has even reached the camera. Consider investing in a powered tie-clip or overhead microphone to provide a strong, well balanced and clean sounding output. Look for known brands and use Amazon for customer comments and ratings. Do check that the microphone type will work with your camera as they are not all compatible.
There are a number of other problems that can occur when recording sound. Most are due to low quality equipment placed too far from the sound source or a lack of consideration in the recording environment. Experiment with your microphones and if possible monitor it live on a good pair of closed-ear headphones. Finally don’t rely on just one recording, record at least three versions so you have a better choice in the edit.
Business videos are normally created to solve a content problem, this might be to answer a question, to demonstrate or provide other additional information. The nature of this type of video means that it is a single production, with no follow up or related videos to watch next. There is nothing wrong with this approach, especially if the video contains all the information needed, and is of sensible length (see my last blog post on video length). But what about if you have more to say? How and why would you consider a video series?
First of all, you need to consider your target audience and where the majority will be searching and watching your videos.
If this is YouTube then its fairly straightforward, YouTube supports (and encourages) playlists, linking videos using annotations and other features designed for a series of videos. Also consider that each video can be optimised for a specific set of search terms, making it far more relevant than ‘cover-all’ videos to both people and search engines alike. Your series can grow over time and your viewers and subscribers can be continuously engaged as new content is launched.
If your content is hosted within your own web pages, then dividing your content over multiple videos is usually beneficial. Bite sized information is still preferable as this allows for accurate placement, focussed viewing and easier content updates. If your website is well optimised, then your videos also stand a better chance of ranking well, as long as you have separated them onto different web pages.
Next, how are you going to divide out your content? If you are making a blog style series, then you are probably going to have a different topic for each video. If you only have one big topic you will need to plan your series in advance to create a workable structure. Ideally you don’t want to keep repeating yourself, however you cannot always assume the viewer has watched a previous video.
Finally whats your end goal? A series of videos will be a lot of work to plan, shoot and edit. You will also need to promote them and engage with comments on YouTube and your website. Your commitment should all be for a defined purpose. Are you looking to promote your expertise and become known as an expert, are you trying to build an audience for a future project or are you simply sharing information because you need to satisfy a content demand with your own customers?
Most successful videos, especially ones on YouTube are part of a series. They are interlinked and traffic is driven from one to the next. It has been proven that multiple videos perform far better than single videos in search results as YouTube playlists and channels can rank in their own right. And for the viewer, the choice to choose a relevant video is what keeps them engaged with your content rather than that of your competitors.