By John Wojtechko, Contributor
It’s a day many students look forward to (and just as many students dread). But this year, the Academic Conference has an extra challenge.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all students presenting in the conference will be doing so virtually, in the form of a video presentation, slide show with narration, or a digital poster.
As an SVC alum of the class of 2018 with a degree in communication, I have been asked to give some advice for recording video presentations. If you’re one of the students doing a video presentation, hopefully this will help you. But maybe it won’t. In any case, what’s the harm in reading it? You have the time, don’t you?
1. Film in a well-lit, quiet environment. If you’re living with your family, kindly ask them to quiet down while you record. And grab a couple of lamps around the house so you’re not in heavy shadow. Nobody wants to watch a presentation given by a Sith Lord. (Well, maybe some people do, but that’s not really the point.)
2. Plan what you want to say before you say it. You have the unique opportunity to give your presentation exactly the way you want it. Write it out, practice it, and record it a couple of times to get it exactly the way you want it. Even though “Put extra time and effort into it” isn’t exactly the type of advice college students (or anyone really) wants to get, it’s definitely useful. And bonus: You don’t have to worry about getting stage fright!
3. Don’t worry about your equipment. If you have a cell phone, you have everything you need to film your presentation. You don’t need a fancy camera or expensive microphone. The most important part of the video is the content; how you film that video is second. Use what you have. Need a camera stand? Use a stool with a stack of books! Need an easel? Use a younger sibling!
4. Anticipate questions your viewers might have. One big drawback of doing video presentations is that you do not have an audience to ask you questions. So predict what your audience might want to know. Look at your project with the eyes of a novice. Or better yet, practice your presentation in front of your family to see what questions they have and work that information into your video.
5. Dress to impress. Even though you’re not actually in Dupré with faculty and parents walking around, pretend like you are. Put on a professional outfit, fix your hair, brush your teeth, polish your shoes. Not only will you look like you know what you’re talking about, you’ll feel like it too.
6. Be yourself. I know that sounds really cliché. And I know it’s really cliché for me to say that it sounds really cliché. But it’s true. Even though you’re not actually talking to a group of people about your project, make it seem like you are. Fill your presentation with pep, energy, and your true personality. Don’t let being behind a screen make you seem more distant. Pretend like you have an audience. Make it sound like you’re talking to somebody.
Whether you can’t wait to present at the Academic Conference or you shudder at the thought, I hope I’ve been able to offer some worthwhile advice. And if I haven’t, allow me to offer some worthless advice: Wear clean socks because you never know when you’ll need to take your shoes off.
Good luck to all the students presenting. Do your best, have fun, and stay safe and healthy!
John Wojtechko graduated SVC in 2018 with a double degree in communication and English. He currently works as a director and editor at We Are One Body Audio Theatre in Latrobe.
Read about the changes to the upcoming Academic Conference here.