Video Tips for Toastmasters

Thanks to Steve W. for the great job taking this video.

If your club has a video camera to record speeches here are some tips to make your video as good as possible.

  • Arrive early. Setup the camera and practice ahead of time. Look at the instructions before you come to the meeting. Get the media from speakers and find out the speaking order. Label SD cards if they are not labeled – most cards look very similar. Find out the speaking order.
  • Background. Watch what is behind your speaker. You don’t want distracting items or colors. If you have a dark background you don’t want the speaker to have dark clothes. Feel free to change the background distractions. If the speaker is speaking in front of a window, close the blinds or shades to minimize the background light. Move the lectern or flag or any other items which might be distracting in the video.
  • Distance – In general, shooting at a closer distance will give you better video than shooting far away. While newer cameras do have a 30+ zoom factor, you are losing a lot of light when you shoot at a distance.
  • Lighting – Turn on all the lights. Most rooms have numerous lighting levels. For video, you want as much light as possible. I would even encourage a speaker to stand underneath a light. If you want to get the best possible video, bring in extra lights.
  • Talk to the Speaker – Talk to the speaker ahead of time and find out what sort of body movement are they going to have. If they are going to stand behind the lectern the entire time that makes your job easy. If they are going to be energetic and move around a lot, it’s good to know that ahead of time.
  • Tripod – set it up and make sure it moves freely back and forth. After you have tested it, bring it down so it doesn’t impede the view of club members during other parts of the meeting.
  • Audio Camera – use Manual audio and check levels ahead of time. “Auto” audio picks up a lot of background noise.
  • Audio – Headphones. If your camera has a headphone jack – use it. It’s a good way to spot problems while shooting.
  • Audio Wireless – to get the best audio use a wireless microphone. Put in the batteries ahead of time and test it out. Turn the wireless “On” before giving it to the speaker. Try to hide the wires if possible. Speakers should consider wearing a jacket to help hide the wires.
  • Zoom Level – you want a “Medium” type of shot – waist to a little bit over the head. Don’t go zooming in and out.
  • Pay Attention – Follow the speaker as they move around. I try to keep the speaker in the center of the screen so that I can react to their movement right or left. You may also have to zoom out if the speaker decides to come closer to the audience.
  • Focus. If the speaker is using a laptop and projector, follow the speaker, not the power point presentation.

There are many great speeches given at the club level. By following good video techniques we can save these not only for the speaker, but also post them online for others to see. You must of course get the speakers permission.

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