Shooting video can be intimidating.

The thought of creating our own videos (and being front and center in virtual meetings) can trigger a wave of unease.

Which makes sense.

Trying something new can make us feel vulnerable and out of our comfort zone. So, it can feel safer to not try and justify it with reasons like, well, I don’t have fancy equipment so what’s the point?

However dear reader – I believe in you!

Below are a few simple tweaks you can implement to boost, nay, skyrocket the overall look and feel of your video with just your smartphone as well as your webcam footage. Right now. For free.

Scroll down to learn how!

Showing vs. Telling

Telling you tips and techniques about how to make your video more visually appealing seems disingenuous in a text-only format. So, I created this 12-minute video discussing all of these concepts, which you can view right now.

However, we all learn differently and prefer to consume information in our own way.

So, I collected all of the information from that video as well as other concepts and ideas and put them on the Virtual Extension employee site to give you an even more robust guide. You’ll learn:

  • Top 8 things to avoid in your videos, such as unflattering lighting.
  • 15 phone and webcam tips – many of them free!
  • How to frame your shots like a pro, with many examples to see.

Hopefully, the video in this post and the comprehensive guide is helpful.

The biggest tip I hope you take away is – just go for it!

It can be easy to procrastinate and come up with excuses about not having the right gear, but see if you can challenge that inner voice and just go out and try.

You will learn 100x faster and better to see for yourself what works and what doesn’t. Then try it again.

It’s those small little changes that lead to big improvements.

Make mistakes. Learn. Improve. Repeat. I know you can do it!


About the Author

greg-aronoff-portraitjpgGreg Aronoff is part of OSU’s Professional and Continuing Education (PACE). Greg and his team help provide guidance and strategy on marketing and multimedia projects in addition to producing videos, webpages, newsletters, articles, fliers, and more!

If you would like to learn more about PACE and work with their Multimedia and Marketing Team, simply fill out this intake form.

Watch our Success in Collaboration webinar

With the start of the pandemic, teams from PACE, Extension Communications and ECTU came together to align our expertise and services in support of Extension’s response. Since then we’ve worked together on a number of programs and initiatives with partners throughout Extension, resulting in greater reach, engagement, impact and efficiency. Watch the webinar recording to learn about recent successes and lessons learned, and continue to explore what’s possible when we all work together!

In the face of the worst pandemic in the last 100 years, maintaining strong ties within the communities we serve can feel like an uphill battle. Even with social distancing, it’s important that we continue to meet the needs of Oregonians and to maintain strong ties with each other as we face this public health crisis together.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us in Extension are faced with a dilemma: how do we continue to offer vulnerable community members the opportunity to continue engaging with the event-based programming they want to attend, but can’t?

Recently, 4-H and the FFA were planning the Grant County Modified Youth Livestock Exhibit. The necessary Covid-19 related precautions were planned, including social distancing and limiting attendance. But, the reduced attendance posed several drawbacks to the viability and effectiveness of this event and future ones like it.

Bonni Booth, the 4-H Program Coordinator for Grant County, learned about a local church that was successfully live streaming their service to those who couldn’t attend in-person. The church offered Bonni and her team a laptop, camera, and WiFi access to stream live video from their event onto YouTube. To leverage OSU Extension’s YouTube subscriber following, she reached out to Extension Communications to see if we had an official YouTube channel for streaming live events.

We didn’t have such a channel, but now we do. We present to you: OSU Extension Live, a YouTube channel dedicated to broadcasting your event quickly and to a large audience.

screenshot of the live video image with analytics graph below

How OSU Extension Live works

It’s accessible from practically any device with an internet connection, even a mobile phone or a smart TV. People who prefer to quarantine can connect with their Extension communities. Those with scheduling conflicts can rewind the stream to watch the parts they had missed. Bonni told me after the event that grandparents of the 4-H youth who lived across state lines thanked her for letting them watch their grandchildren show their animals. Expanding our services to reach underserved audiences is a great perk, pandemic or not.

Bar graph showing desktop was most used to watch and most on Thursday. TV and mobile were next popular and tablet and game console not as much.

The Modified Youth Livestock Exhibit was six days long and included an array of activities that took place at different times. YouTube’s in-depth analytics shows which activities gathered the largest virtual crowds, and can even give a general sense of who is tuning in. These data points can help you determine which parts of the event were the most popular and which didn’t hold the audience’s attention.

line graph of live concurrent viewers by time of day

This isn’t just a piece of the solution for social distancing, this is a paradigm shift for offering accessible content to people with all sorts of reasons for not attending an event in-person. All the while, accessing powerful feedback to help you shape your future programming.

How you can get started

We are working to make live video streaming to OSU Extension Live as easy as possible, but there are some extra considerations.

  1. You will need a data connection. Streaming won’t work without a stable connection to YouTube.
  2. University policy for youth programming states that a model release must be completed by all youth present on-camera. Most youth programs have a model release as part of their enrollment process, but make sure to bring extra forms to the event in the case that a youth without one wants to participate on-camera.
  3. If you elect to open up the live stream to comments, make sure someone is available to moderate those comments.

Let’s say that an event you are hosting is coming up and you want to determine whether to host a live video stream. What makes an event ideal for live streaming?

  • Is your event intended for a public audience? If not, perhaps a video conferencing platform like Zoom is more appropriate.
  • Do you have a way to advertise the event to your audience? Sharing the streaming link in an email or on social media with your audience and drumming up excitement days or weeks in advance will ensure the best turn-out.
  • Is this a recurring event? Perhaps there is an unserved audience of prospective members who would like to see what your event is like from the comfort of their own home.
  • Is there someone available who can periodically check on the webcam?

Traffic ration by source shows 40.1% external link, 32.1% direct url entry, and less than 10% for each of the other 5 sources

 

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about live video streaming, contact Alan Dennis or Victor Villegas.

You are also more than welcome to learn more by attending our Extension Annual Conference session titled, “Virtual Program Delivery with Live Streamed Video” which is slated for Monday, December 7, 2020 from 10:15 – 10:45 AM.

In Extension we work in a variety of fields and with many great folks all over Oregon and worldwide. If you’re looking to reach people where they are at, video is an excellent medium to consider. YouTube is the 2nd most used search engine(1), and an excellent way to reach 18-49 year-olds. 80-90% of that age range uses YouTube monthly(2)!

With all of these billions of questions being asked on a regular basis, we need some help to find out what those questions are and how to best address them. We are regularly looking at the analytics from our Extension YouTube channel to harness our past data to help inform a better future.

Knowing how people search

If you’re curious about what the world is looking and searching for check out Google Trends. This is a great place to start when thinking about creating a video. You can break things down by region, look at related terms or topics, view seasonal popularity, and more. It’s useful to think about the terms that your audience will be using and not what you might use in academia.

Here are some of the search terms that have brought viewers to our YouTube channel recently:

 

  • Blue: how to get rid of moss in your lawn (and other variations)
  • Light Green: insect collection (and other variations)
  • Purple: plant pathology (and other variations), quinoa (and other variations)
  • Dark Green: small farm (and other variations)

All of these are terms and phrases used to search on YouTube. These are just for videos we currently have, there are many search terms where we have either no videos or we could use something more recent. Consider entering some search terms your audience would be looking for into YouTube, Google, or Google Trends. You very well could find some gaps in relevant content or perhaps a topic that needs refreshing.

Some of the most popular uses of video, in the case of YouTube, is for How-Tos and trying understand the world or products(3). This is right in Extension’s wheelhouse! Here are some videos that are currently harnessing curiosity well on YouTube:

From left to right:

  • Pinning Butterflies and Moths,
  • How to Identify a Plant or Weed
  • Collecting Insects with Traps and Lights
  • Collecting Insects: Tools and Supplies
  • Sweep Net Technique
  • Using A Plant Press.

All of these were in the top 12 for views in 2019, and as you’ll see below they are also some of the best at holding the audience’s attention.

Holding the audience’s attention

Think about your current audience. What are the questions that are being asked on a regular basis? What kinds of skills or procedures could you show through video?

While explaining the research and science behind topics are great, most viewers are looking for a solution to a problem. Get to the point and then explain the reason behind the solution. Looking for the “I-want-to-do ___” moments in your area of expertise is a great place to start.

We use the Audience Retention metric to see how a video is doing at getting to the point and meeting the viewer’s needs. Views tend to have a steep drop-off after the beginning. It’s important to hook the viewer in right away and prove that the video will meet their expectations. The first 15 seconds are the most crucial. These videos are doing well at holding viewers’ attention:

From left to right:

  • Scotch Broom Removal
  • Income Opportunities from Logs
  • How to Make a Trap to Catch the Spotted Wing Drosophila Fly
  • Sampling for Varroa Mites from a Honey Bee Brood Nest
  • Sweep Net Technique
  • How to sample a lot of hay
  • Collecting Insects with Traps and Lights
  • Managing Moss in Lawns.

All of these have over 60% viewer retention (very good), and you’ll notice that each one does a good job at directly addressing a problem or showing how to do something.

Audience Retention is also important for another reason: Google uses this in their algorithm when showing related videos at the end of a video. Having a high retention rate increases your chances of showing up in viewers’ feeds.

How to approach creating your video

Video is an amazing tool at reaching audiences, but because it is so widely used, it’s important to approach creating a video with a strategic plan otherwise you risk being drowned out. Here are some questions to ask if you’re thinking of getting into video:

  • Who is my audience (both existing ones and new ones you hope to attract)?
  • What kinds of questions are you hearing regularly, and what does data from sources like Google Trends say about your topic?
  • Do any of these questions work well as a How-To or to help someone in that “I-want-to-do ___” moment?
  • Is this a topic that can be shown well visually?

Something else to consider is to use YouTube as a social media platform. If you are willing to check the comments and to make your video interactive, it can be a good space to have conversation and address other questions that might come up. These interactions can also inspire future video topics.

Author: Stephen Ward

 

(1) 54 Fascinating and Incredible YouTube Statistics

(2) The latest video trends: Where your audience is watching

(3) Many Turn to YouTube for Children’s Content, News, How-To Lessons

Over the past few weeks, your Extension web steering committee has been actively engaged in the research phase of the OSU Extension web upgrade project.

As you know, the goal of this project is to make our next generation of OSU Extension websites user-driven and truly awesome. We want OSU Extension’s web presence to become a go-to, trusted resource. And knowing that people often turn online for answers, we want to be sure they find us (even if they don’t know they should be searching for “Extension”).

What does awesome look like?

Hear what the steering committee thinks. What do you believe our website could be? Let us know in the comments, and watch for a brief employee survey this spring where you can provide more feedback.

What can you do to help?

Keep doing good work on your current websites. Respond to the survey. Stay tuned for more information and opportunities. Let us know what questions you have.

What has happened lately?

    • We talked with Extension program leaders and regional administrators. They shared some innovative ideas, and other useful feedback.
    • We’re working with the OSU College of Business’s marketing research team (Close to the Customer, C2C). They’re helping us look outward and inward for ideas on where and how people are getting the kind of information OSU Extension can provide.
    • We’re gathering basic data and analytics on our current websites. And we’re gathering ideas and examples from our peers and competitors.

If you have questions at any time, please contact EESC or anyone on the steering committee.