What words to choose when you’re on live video

What words to choose when you're on live video

Watch out, you’re on live video…

These days we see video – a lot of it of terrible quality, but never mind – almost everywhere.

No sooner does someone get up to speak at a meeting than someone else exposes their sweaty armpits as they raise a smartphone up and film the person …

Of course, we’ve been used to seeing shaky DIY videos of people getting drunk, cuddling cute dogs and cats, making pancakes etc. for some years now on platforms like Facebook and Google Plus. But being an avid F2F business networker I see these being made increasingly in meetings and other business events. You still find the occasional group host who slaps the videographer down, remonstrating that not everyone likes to be videoed, but the reality is that nowadays you can’t be scared of the old “Candid Camera” syndrome that dates back to well before even I was born.

No, video is here to stay, rather like the goofy and relatively harmless drunk at a party whom everyone avoids but can’t be cruel enough to evict out on to the street. It’s rather like the “fly-on -the-wall” docu-drama technique employed by TV program makers for several years now, only worse … often, hilariously worse.

Should you ignore the fact that you’re on live video?

Ideally yes, but in practical terms, no.

Yes: because if you behave and speak as you would without a camera (albeit a little squirt of a video camera lodged in someone’s smartphone) rolling you will come over as natural, relaxed and saying what you think honestly and thoroughly.

No: because if your honest and thorough monologue involves any of the following…

**Business/organisation jargon only people in the room will understand
**Reference to issues, places, events etc. that only people in the room know about
**In-jokes that only your surrounding companions will understand
**Swearwords and vulgarisms that may break up laughing everyone in the room, after you’ve all had a few alcoholic snifters

…anyone watching from a different background, elsewhere, at a different time etc., is going to find what you say irrelevant and at worst, offensive.

Even on the live video setting of a smartphone, you’re an international star, baby

Right now (September 2015) there is a huge swelling in internet circles of brand new ways to embarrass people via live video wherever they might, ostensibly all over the internet. Whether we’re using Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, Periscope, Meerkat, Blab or any of umpty-dump also-rans, we and the words we say are vulnerable.

You might think it’s perfectly OK to smile at a jiggling smartphone in a meeting, make a cheesy joke about waving to your Mom, and then use an expletive that everyone around you uses daily but might make your auntie blush.

Then before you know it, your footage including the expletive is splattered all over YouTube. And your auntie finds you on there (after all, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Even aunties have heard of it.)

And talking of YouTube … here’s a delightful (if pre-scripted) clip that shrewdly illustrates how being on live video in a business meeting can crystallise you making a prize idiot of yourself (WARNING: not “safe for work”)

Should you be concerned about the legality of what you say on live video?

First of all, ensure that you know someone is videoing what you say. I’m no lawyer but if you even suspect that someone is recording your pearls of wisdom on video, they need to make it clear that this is what they want to do before they do it, and get your permission.

Further, if they have the intention of using that video material elsewhere – whether on YouTube or even for their own purposes – make sure that you agree to it. The laws of copyright are very complicated, and if you are concerned, Google your question to see where you stand.

I would gladly share advice here but the laws are different for every country and even for different US states and Canadian provinces, so check out your local laws.

Now … what should  you say?

Given that the entire world and their partners, dogs, cats, lizards and hamsters may be able to witness you and your words online, when being videoed you need to:

**Be truthful and honest – there’s no other way, kiddo, unless you want to be seen as suspect
**Use clean speaking. Yep, I know, there’s nothing more satisfying than calling a jerk a f***ing *sshole, but not on cyberworldwide vid. You never know who his/her friends are.
**Get straight to the point. Even if you’re on Periscope and you’re waiting for all those, er, thousands of other users to join in live – cut the pre-ambles and say why exactly you’re in front of that camera phone … and make your point clearly and fairly.
**Not stare straight into that oblong lump of glass and plastic that’s shooting the video. There is nothing that looks more amateurish than a speaker who keeps glancing nervously at the camera. Look at the people who are listening to you: their attention will filter through and make what you say more credible.

More tips to help you come across well on live video

Don’t ramble. Work what you have to say into finite statements.

When you have finished delivering a statement, shut up, if only for a few seconds.

That will give the video editor a cutting point where s/he can edit the video – and will be grateful to you for providing that.

As mentioned above, don’t use language that’s not “safe for work” and avoid using internal jargon that people outside your business, industry or other area of interest won’t understand.

Good luck!

I know many people and businesses are still a little twitchy about using the power of video – especially live video. But joking aside, given that it is so easy to use now, let’s celebrate it and truly explore what more it can do to benefit us all.

What recent experiences do you have with using live video?

Please share!


Still image thanks to Kārlis Dambrāns

TV clip from The Office thanks to Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant