American actor and drag queen Ru Paul famously said: “Your fear of looking stupid is making you look stupid.”
Many people suffer from a fear of looking incompetent, afraid to ask a colleague for advice or help in case they look inept. However research from Harvard Business School and Wharton School has shown people who think they look stupid when asking for advice have actually got it back to front, and when they seek guidance, they’re considered more competent.
This fear also manifests when people are asked to make a presentation. The temptation is to talk about everything to demonstrate expertise, rather than being precise. Even if a presenter is experienced and understands some of the basic rules that make a good presentation, atelophobia kicks in. That’s the fear of not being good enough.
The medium of the spoken word means there are different rules to looking competent. A written report would require detailed research and named sources, and the audience can go over the words again and again to make sense of them. With spoken word, the audience uses their visual, auditory and kinesthetic senses and creates an overall sense of feeling about both the speaker and information, rather than taking in detail. Too much content can overwhelm and instead of demonstrating the speaker’s expertise, can give the audience an overall sense of incoherence.
The same rules apply in video. Like a presentation, video can do different things. It can entertain – the cat with the cucumber video is a perfect example.
It can trigger powerful emotions– see truemove. Videos can make you happy, reminisce, excited or joyful. A video that does any of the above will have a common theme – it uses a combination of senses to create the feeling. There will be a visual assault with powerful images; the soundtrack will focus on the sounds that support the desired feeling, be it cheerful or downbeat.
As with a presentation, the emphasis of these videos is on the feeling it creates – not the detailed content. Even if the video is a step-by-step how-to film, the viewer needs to feel something after watching.
Which goes back to Ru Paul. Take advice when making a video. Think of the feeling you want to create in the audience rather than overload them with detail, and remember, less is more.