Video For The Small Screen – Making Eye Contact


Big Screen vs. Small Screen

Web video lives in front of a completely different viewing audience than that of television or the big screen. It’s important to understand these differences when producing video for the small screen (computer audience). In this post I will talk about using proper eye contact when delivering educational content online.

Television- The Audience of Many

Television and film content is produced with the understanding that a mass audience will be viewing. You will notice a common communication technique in TV and film documentaries is to have the instructor look off camera about 30 degrees as if they are talking to someone else. (see diagram below) Why do they do it this way? You think this wouldn’t make any sense. Well, it’s because the content producer is anticipating a large viewing audience. The subject looks away from the camera because it helps to establish the illusion of a mass audience. Just like a teacher looks around the room as they instruct a group of students and doesn’t talk directly to one person only.

Web- The Audience of One

When creating instructional online video content, remember, you generally have an audience of one at any given time. It’s basically your image, on screen,  in front of someone else two or more feet away. This is very siilar to how we converse in real space. We speak to each other at around 2 to 3 feet a part. (See the diagram below)

Keep It Conversational

Let your videos be conversational and personal like you are talking face to face with your audience. Look directly into the camera when speaking as if you are having a conversation eye to eye. It’s more natural and will help to relax your audience and hold their attention. It may also relive stress for yourself knowing you only have one person to talk to and not a massive audience of millions. I’m not saying millions won’t end up viewing your video! It does take time to create compelling content worth sharing and a huge subscription base for starters.

What’s Your Experience?

What has been your experience with creating and viewing instructional web video continent? Have you ever been annoyed when the subject isn’t looking at you? Do you find it more pleasing when the teacher is speaking directly to you? How does this translate into better online video?

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