Taking that Leap of Video

In hindsight, this Christmas was chuckle worthy. The DVD’s of the Humorist Contest had arrived in the mail (many thanks to those who put it together). Every single time we had friends and family over to celebrate the holidays, I knew it was only a matter of time before I heard this line.

“You know she won the Humorist Contest right? We have the DVD! Shall we go and watch her winning speech?”

I have to admit it was something to see my parents so proud. It was another thing to watch oneself on video. I think the last time I saw myself was when I was watching my own graduation on DVD. The only time I could ever conceivably watch myself again would only be when (I quote from another club member), “I lock myself in a darkened room with a bottle of hard liquor.”

The first time I watched the DVD with family and friends, I really wished there was a bottle of hard liquor in the house. I am my own worst critic (who isn’t?) and the excruciating pain was ten-fold when we found out our DVD player was dying a slow painful death and would cut off my speech at random intervals, leaving us to restart the DVD player, cut to the beginning of my speech, and then fast forward to our last known point.

The audience that night still laughed their butts off. I was thankful for that.

Many veterans out there will gladly tell you one of the best ways of improvement is to video tape yourself giving a speech and watching yourself afterwards. You will notice all the little things you never noticed before (i.e. oh my goodness I did that?) Most of all, you will have a much better understanding of what you may need to change, in order to achieve the effect you want to give across in your speech.

Though I always was on the bandwagon about videotaping yourself, this is often easier said than done. I made it through the entire journey and recorded my speech only once. (Something I would not recommend). However, I did rehearse my speech a number of times, recorded my voice onto my phone, and listened to the playback. Going into the contest, I knew voice modulation, pitch, tone, etc would be some of my biggest challenges and this was the one way I knew how to tackle that.

I am really glad the whole contest was recorded and put on DVD. To date, that version is still my favourite version of the speech, hands down. However, that does absolutely nothing to keep me from seeing all those little critical things. On the plus side, I feel I have a much better idea of what and how I need to change to take my speeches to the next level. I feel I do anyhow.

Maybe I should be bringing my camera to record my speeches a little more often.


4 thoughts on “Taking that Leap of Video

  1. Recording your voice is a great idea too- good for you Viv. It’s actually a different method altogether because you can focus solely on your voice.
    However, I highly recommend video taping yourself also, even just in practice. I probably have (no word of a lie) 50 taped versions of my current speech. Ackk!!!!!
    Accelerated learning! Why should we waste time doing the same things over and over (especially if we don’t know we are doing them?) when we can SEE them and correct them?
    go for it Viv!
    Incidentally, I’d be interested in hearing what YOU would have liked to have done differently on your contest night. 🙂

    • I’m still joking about how I’ve made it this far in Toastmasters without regularly taping my speeches. Yes yes, I know how bad it is, and how much videotaping yourself and participating in contests will accelerate your learning curve. I admire you for having so many versions of your speech, taped! I will also have to do that…eventually.

      I know I’m running the risk that you will forever see my winning speech in a different light (or perhaps you’ve noticed this already), in my video I do the “tsk” thing a lot when I talk. That was also partly due to my nervousness making my mouth go completely dry before my speech, AND my restraint in drinking a lot of water so I wouldn’t have to go running to the washroom again. That was one thing that made me go *facepalm* when watching the video for the first time. But I’ve said many times I had an absolute BLAST that night and I’m so happy it all got caught on camera.

  2. Hi Vivien. I’d recommend recording your voice with your phone even if you’re also videoing your speech. With your phone in your top pocket or on the nearby lectern (say), you’ll likely get good audio. Whereas if the camera’s some distance away, the sound on the video itself might not be so good.

    Then you can use something like Windows Movie Maker (which is free) to replace the camera audio with the phone audio.

    Carl Kwan (a Canadian public speaker living in Korea) tends to publish blog posts as videos. He published some good tips here:

    And Charles Greene’s another speaker who publishes a lot of videos. Coincidentally, his latest post happened to be on the topic of videoing yourself:

    • Hi Craig, not sure why this comment wasn’t approved right away so I apologize.
      I do like your idea of putting a phone (or other voice recording device nearby). If you don’t mind me saying that is also what Ryan Avery revealed he does every time he speaks (he has a voice recorder in his pocket).

      I do like your idea a lot about having both the audio and video so you can replace the camera audio with the better voice audio. I think that would make me try videotaping myself more and (gasp) even try posting a video of one of my speeches online…eventually.

      Always appreciate your helpful comments!

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