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5.1 Crafting the Message

One of the keys to appearing relaxed and comfortable on camera is to plan out what you want to say. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to map out your message and keep it concise and conversational.

5.1 Crafting the Message

Hi and welcome back, I'm Cindy Burgess for Tuts+. So, we've covered what to wear on camera. How to improve your voice. And what to do with your body. Now, it's time to focus on what to say and how to say it. In this lesson, you'll learn how to craft a message that's simple. Concise and conversational. One of the unique things about the Internet, compared to TV, is that time is infinite. In theory, you have as much time as you want to present as much information as you want. The only real limits are bandwidth and download time. But, just because you can take all the time you want, doesn't mean you should. Attention spans are short. So you need to focus your message. The key to doing this is planning. Before you sit down in front of the camera and hit that record button, take some time to think about and map out your main points. Don't write a script and try to memorize it. I say this for a couple of reasons, one, you'll never be able to remember it all, especially if you're nervous, never mind that it's gonna take your forever to try to memorize it. And two, we write differently than we speak. We tend to be more formal and less conversational when we write. So you'll end up sounding scripted. Instead, try this technique that I teach to beginning reporters who are learning how to do what we call live hits. You've seen these on TV news before. Here's one of mine from years ago. Don't laugh at the hair. A live hit is where a reporter is on location, usually at the scene of some kind of breaking news and they tell us what's going on. They don't have time to write a whole script. They just get in front of the camera and talk. Sounds terrifying, doesn't it? But, just because they don't have a written script, doesn't mean they haven't thought about what they're going to say. In fact, they've created an outline, or roadmap, to guide them, so that they use the limited time they have most effectively. The easiest way to do this, is to use the simple structure that all stories are made up of, beginning, middle, and end. The beginning is where you introduce yourself to your viewers. And tell them what your topic is. Here's an example. >> Hi, I'm Katy Annie and today I'm gonna show you how to make the best Yorkshire pudding. >> If you want to memorize anything, memorize your introduction. That way you'll get off to a smooth start. The middle is where you deliver your key messages. But rather than writing a script, create bullet points. Just a couple of words for each is fine, you're not writing out sentences. You're creating prompts to guide you and ensure you cover everything you want. Give some thought to how you arrange those bullet points. They should flow logically. The end, of course, is where you wrap up your on camera presentation and say goodbye. Know how you want to wrap up before you start. In my case, for example, I like to wrap up by promoting the next lesson in this series. This is another spot where it's okay to write a line or two and memorize it. That way you'll finish smoothly as well. Now at this point you're probably saying, no script? I can't do that, there's no way! I don't want to say! But remember, you know what you're talking about. You're the expert. Once you get going, you're gonna be fine. Your bullet list is there to guide you. Don't be afraid to refer to it to keep on track. You can even tape it to the bottom of the camera so it's right there in front of you. Don't worry about making mistakes. No one expects you to be perfect, but they do expect you to be genuine. And trust me, that's a lot easier to do when you're talking naturally as opposed to reading a script. So, just to recap, write a short introduction, one or two lines max. Memorize this. Then, create a list of bullet points that outlines what you're going to talk about. Focus only on the most important points. This list is your guide. It will keep you from rambling, or taking long pauses while you think of what else you want to cover. Finally, decide how you're going to wrap up your presentation. Are you going to recap what you've covered? Are you going to direct viewers to a website for more information? Are you simply going to say thank you and goodbye? Know how you're going to end and memorize a short line here, too. Another thing to think about while you're planning your material is visuals. One of video's strengths is the ability to show as well as tell. Is there a prop you can use to help demonstrate what you're talking? Would using a whiteboard help you explain a difficult concept? Gather all of these materials beforehand. And think about where you'll place them and how you'll need to position your body in front of the camera to use them. It's a good idea to do a quick rehearsal or dry run before you start recording, that way you'll have a feel for how the information is going to flow. Don't rehearse too much though, or you'll lose that sense of spontaneity that helps make a performance feel natural. If you're going to be interviewed on camera, you might be able to ask for the questions in advance to help you prepare. But again, don't write out an answer and try to memorize it. You'll just sound scripted. Besides, the host may change the wording of a question or drop it entirely. Most interviewers will not give out their list of questions for this very reason. They want the interview to sound natural, not rehearsed. What they will do, is give you a general idea of what the interview is about. And the kind of things that they'll be asking you. That way you can create a bullet list of key points to talk about and even plan tentative answers based on what you think you'll be asked. In the next lesson, we'll look at the pros and cons of ad-libbing versus using a teleprompter. I'm Cindy Burgess for Tuts+. Thanks for watching.

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