3 Essential Steps In Prepping Speakers For Your eLearning Videos
A couple of weeks ago I talked about the 3 types of scenarios you could encounter when adding film-based video to eLearning. Take a look: Using video in eLearning: Preparing for 3 types of scenarios you will encounter.

The first of these scenarios is the classical interview. Many of our customers like to include video interviews of senior management in their eLearning. This can help promote the eLearning in an organization and it lends a certain credibility and seriousness to the whole effort.

There are many challenges which come with filming interviews of senior management. They are busy and so will give you an hour when you really need two. Then they will most often not review the script until a few minutes before going in front of the camera. Or worse they will believe in their own ability to just wing it and refuse to use a script.

So what should you do to prep these folks to ensure that you have no disasters on shooting day? Here is a short list.

1. Find out their prior experience in front of a camera

Talk to the speakers and ask them if they have experience being in front of a camera. Most senior executives in large companies will have done this before.

Then ask them if they prefer to speak into the camera as if they are speaking directly to the viewer. Or they prefer the more informal style of speaking off-the-camera to an interviewer. Check with your eLearning project manager to make sure that both these options are ok in terms of the expected style.

When speaking into the camera the speaker needs to maintain continuous eye contact with the lens. If he/she looks away even for a fraction of a second, you will be forced to re-film. Secondly, if the speaking piece is long, you may need to break it down into separate shots. But this would require a script to be defined and locked in advance.

The benefit of getting your speaker to speak into the camera is that it does not become an interview anymore but instead creates a direct connection between the speaker and the viewer.

But if your speaker would prefer a more relaxed situation you could opt for the classical interview style. You could post someone off-camera who could ask questions and your speaker could simply answer them. The speaker can be more relaxed and can look almost anywhere except into the camera!

So instead or risking a “deer in the headlights” look find out the experience your speakers have and accordingly fix the setting for their appearance in front of the camera.

2. Find out if they will be more comfortable being scripted or off-the-cuff

Most speakers prefer to have the script written in advance. Only the daredevils (and very experienced speakers) opt for completely winging it. I recommend that you insist on having a written, pre-approved script well in advance of the filming.

Not only will this ensure that the message which needs to be communicated is reflected in the script but you will also limit the number of takes and finish the filming within reasonable limits.

If you have the script defined then you need to decide whether to use a teleprompter or rely on the speaker’s memory. The teleprompter will make the speaker’s life easier but you risk exposing the fact that the speaker is reading. You will need to adjust the teleprompter and the distance between the speaker and the camera to limit this feeling.

Ensure that the speakers are coming to the shooting having spent time in front of a mirror practising their lines.

3. Make sure they know where and how their interview will be used

You will be surprised to know how often speakers – esp. senior managers – have no clue where their interview is going to end up. Share this with them and they will speak differently. If it is going to be a part of an eLearning module on a page with other information, let them know that. If it’s going on YouTube, let them know that. If there’s going to be B-footage used tell them where in the script this is going to happen.

The more you share with the speakers, the more you coach them, the more you ensure that they come prepared to the shooting, the more likely it is that you will end up with a high quality video to use in your eLearning.

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