Have you ever heard of the ‘acceptance prophecy’? It is a psychological phenomena which can be explained simply; if you think that someone will like you, you will behave more positively and show them more warmth – this means they will like you more. If you think that someone isn’t going to like you, you will behave more defensively and come across colder – they are therefore less likely to like you. I am sure this is something everyone can associate with on some level.
This isn’t just psychobabble. Controlled experiments have been carried out to prove the point. 12 out of a sample group of 24 men were told that they were going to be meeting a very attractive woman who happened to be very nervous about meeting them. This eased their feelings about the meeting and they therefore behaved warmly and confidently towards the woman they met. The other 12 men were given no information to ease the process for them and they consequently had a bigger fear of rejection. This, quite predictably, caused them to act colder towards the woman.
It all sounds so obvious when stated in simple terms. However, the skill is in using this understanding to control how responsive people are towards you by giving out particular signals. This is an extremely powerful tool in relation to video production and producing content that your audience can feel a connection with.
Here are some ways that you can help yourself or your contributors come across better in video.
1 Dress to impress
In terms of dress (for the presenters in your videos or other contributors), you need to think in terms of your audience. Who are they and who do they like to listen to? You need the people in your videos to accurately represent your business but at the same time they need to be ‘approachable’ and they need to make your audience feel comfortable with who you are. An extreme example is that you wouldn’t have a presenter dressed in business-wear if your target audience is young people.
2 Tone of voice
The tone of a voice used in your video production can send many messages instantly. Tone of voice refers to pitch, pace, volume and emphasis. It can have positive and negative affects on a listener. Monotone voices are the worst voices to communicate a point and you will know from experience that it is impossible to concentrate on the content of what someone is saying if it is said in a monotone voice. It is therefore important to vary your tone and place emphasis where appropriate. Your voice is the main opportunity you have to project warmth and confidence.
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3 Body language
The video below is particularly interesting because Gideon Shalwick talks about how people connect with him and his personal brand. This video is far from ‘perfect’. He stumbles over his words frequently for example. However, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because his style makes you feel as though you are a friend, having an informal conversation with him. His body language is open and giving. He is speaking directly into the camera and he is relaxed.
4 Eye contact
Eye contact is related to body language but when it comes to video, it deserves a paragraph of it’s own! If someone avoids eye contact we subconsciously assume they are hiding something. When someone looks into our eyes too much, we freak out (unless it is someone we are in love with and we are doing it back of course!). The same is true of video when your contributors are talking straight to the camera. Talking straight to the camera gives the same impression as someone looking into your eyes.
It might not be appropriate in your video productions to have your contributors talking direct to camera. You may want to give the impression that your contributor is being interviewed. In which case, the interviewer should be sat slightly to the left or right of the camera so that the eye-line of the interviewee is still in line with the camera lens; the audience will therefore still be able to feel some connection with the speaker.
Going back to the acceptance prophesy idea, there was one anomaly in the study carried out by Stinson et. al. in 2009. The anomaly was that some of the participants were not affected by the experimental ‘manipulation’ – in other words, what they were told before didn’t affect how much they expected to be accepted. The reason for this is that they already expected to be accepted! These people can be described as ‘social optimists’ as they are unconditionally confident. In all seriousness, you have to have some level of confidence to put yourself in front of a camera and publish your recording to the world (hence why I struggled to find any appropriate examples of bad videos presented by insecure people for your entertainment!). However, even the most confident amongst us can benefit from a deeper understanding of ourselves and the vibe we give out, that create the lasting impressions that others develop of us.
The importance of first impressions
In Blink, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the power of first impressions. He explains how a snap judgement can be just as accurate as a judgement made on the basis of extensive rational thought and consideration. We make a lot of snap judgements on a day to basis – if we considered everything thoroughly we wouldn’t make any decisions! In your video productions, you need to be very aware of the snap judgements that your audience will make of you based on what you put before them. Also, remember, that it doesn’t matter how good a script is. Your video is a whole package of communication from words, to body language and tone of voice. The latter deserve just as much thought and planning as the former.
If you found this article interesting then you may also like our recent post on 7 social psychology tips for online video marketing.