Here's looking at you kid: How to make your next business video one to watch

Sean McMann, director, enterprise sales at Kaltura shares his top tips for creating and producing top-notch business videos for learning, training, communications and marketing

So, your business has invested in the right technical infrastructure to support video-driven learning, training, communication and marketing. That’s a great start. But what happens next is critical.

Are your ‘stars’ and your camera crew sufficiently primed to create prime-time video? It might seem simple: a talking head filmed by a colleague, for example. How difficult can that really be? The answer is quite difficult, actually.

Whether walking viewers through a slide presentation, managing an interactive quiz or poll, or simply presenting a standalone webcam segment, workplace videos succeed or flop on the skill of the instructor/presenter and the quality of the video.  Even with the most advanced system for publishing, managing, and measuring video content, it’s difficult to realise the full value of this investment unless you also adopt some ‘best practice’ guidelines for content creation. 

Here are some tips to help your organisation create and produce business videos of the highest calibre:


This is a framing approach for instructor or presenter-driven video that will improve the look and feel of your video. The subject’s body should ideally fill the frame from mid-chest upwards, and include some 'headroom' above the top of their head.  Also make sure the subject is centred in the frame from left to right.  To get a visual sense of what this looks like, tune in to any TV news programme and note how the pros do it.  You’ll see the same approach, regardless of the TV channel.

Stay In Focus

If the camera you’re using to capture the segment has an auto-focus, disable it.  While it seems like a handy feature, the auto-focus will be challenged to stay in focus as the subject moves.  Even a slight body movement can trigger the auto-focus to flutter in and out of focus.  This is very annoying to watch.  Instead, use a technique borrowed from television: zoom in to the subject’s eyeballs and manually adjust your focus until it is clear, then zoom out and frame the shot.  This will result in a steady and clear focus throughout the segment. 

Mind The Horizon

Many people make the mistake of using the horizon, or any horizontal line in the room as a guide to determine whether their shot is level or not. This is a mistake. Instead, line up one vertical edge of your shot with something in the background, like the edge of a doorway or a corner of the room.  Why?  Because horizontal objects are usually not perfectly horizontal, while vertical building features are. If your shot isn’t level, your audience may be visually distracted.

Use Sound Judgment

A beautifully framed picture isn’t worth much if the accompanying sound is of poor quality. Instead of using the microphone on your computer, consider investing in a lapel microphone. This is a very inexpensive tool used by TV news programmes to get clear audio from presenters. Simply clip the small microphone to your lapel or pocket about a foot below your mouth, then use the audio settings on your computer to adjust the audio level. 

Also think about the level of noise in the room. Try to find a quiet area to film and remember to temporarily turn off air conditioners and any other noisy appliances.

Avoid patterned clothes

Busy patterns and stripes can wreak havoc on your shot.  Let’s just say they are “confusing” to the camera. It’s better for presenters to wear solid, non-primary colours during filming.

Look them in the eye 

One reason you’re using video to communicate is so you can establish a connection to the viewer. That’s hard to do if you fix your gaze on screen several inches below your camera lens. Practise running through your presentation multiple times until you become comfortable divorcing yourself from the script, at least to the extent that you can frequently look into the camera lens throughout your segment. Bullets are often better than verbatim scripts: they give you the freedom to ad lib and help achieve a more natural delivery. 

Sit up straight

You probably heard this command many times as a child. Suffice to say that slouching provides a non-verbal signal to your viewer that you are not excited about the message you’re delivering. This and many other non-verbal distractions can reduce the effectiveness of your message. 

Calm down

While it may seem like you’re creating television, you’re not broadcasting live to millions of viewers who are scrutinising your every move. You’re using video to communicate a highly relevant message to what is usually a very focused and interested audience. One trick is to simply picture one person and speak only to them.  Some people even find it helpful to place a photo of a loved one or friend next to the camera to remind them who they’re presenting to. This is a great way to change your focus and reduce any anxiety and will result in a more personal message for every viewer. 

A little makeup goes a long way

There’s nothing more distracting than a perspiring presenter. One way to get a polished look is to use at least a light dusting of translucent powder. It’s inexpensive, simple to apply and will erase any perspiration on your face and forehead. 

Lighten up

It is impossible to achieve TV studio-level lighting in an office space. But, it’s important to remember that if your audience can’t see you clearly, you won’t be as effective at communicating your message. Try to achieve an even level of light during filming. Contrasting light, from windows that are behind the presenter, are very distracting and actually cause the lens of the camera to darken. Placing the presenter in front of a basic wall painted with flat paint is a better option. Fluttering fluorescent lights should also be avoided.  

Practice makes perfect 

Prepare properly for every video segment. Building in enough time for at least a few dry runs will help to deliver a polished and professional finished product.