How to record a great video message 

You don’t need to be a professional to record a great video on your phone or camera.  Follow these simple tips to get the best result:

Before you start

  • Clean the lens!  I know it sounds obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many videos get sent in with a big thumb print! You can use any camera as long as you hold it in the horizontal (landscape) position and if you can, use the main lens, which is far superior to the ‘selfie lens’.  If you’re using your phone put it on airplane mode so that you are not interrupted.
  • Before you start videoing, decide where you want to be.  You’ll get the best light outside in daylight and if you’re lucky enough to have sun, make sure that you’re not pointing the camera into it. If it’s too windy or noisy, record your video inside.  Play back the video and check the sound.
  • Try and choose an attractive location if you can, or somewhere that means something to the recipient. Make sure that there is nothing distracting behind you.
  • If your message is interrupted by background noise, stop and start again when it’s quiet.
  • If you are filming inside, avoid a dimly lit room. Try and get natural light from a window on you and not the background.  If it’s still too dark, turn on as many lights as you can but don’t stand directly underneath. Use the settings on your camera to change the exposure.
  • Decide what you’re going to say and if there are a few of you, decide in which order you are going to speak before you turn the camera on.  Keep your hands clear of the built-in microphone, if you can’t hear yourself loudly and clearly when you play it back, record it again.

Recording your message

  • If someone else is filming, ask them to hold the camera as still as possible.  A good trick is to keep elbows tucked in tight against the body to steady themselves or rest their elbows on a nearby object.
  • Make sure that the person videoing you doesn’t cover the mobile or tablet’s microphones with their hands. If you can, it’s a good idea to give the microphones a quick clean.
  • If you don’t have someone to video you, use a selfie stick, set the camera on a tripod or prop it up on a small table.
  • Ideally, your eye level should line up with the camera.  Check you are in the centre of the frame, head and shoulders.  If there are a few of you, make sure you fit in or move the camera to each person in turn as they speak. You are more important than the scenery and you need to be near enough to the camera so that the sound is clear.
  • Look at the camera lens and not the screen. Put a small sticker near the lens to remind you.
  • When you press record, wait a few seconds before you start speaking and leave the camera running at the end so that your words aren’t cut off in the edit.
  • If you all just say Hi and Happy Birthday, it won’t be very exciting.  Make it fun, be creative, share a memory or an anecdote. Rehearse until you’re happy and try to be as natural as possible.  Jot down some notes if you’re having trouble remembering everything.
  • Don’t forget to smile and speak up clearly without rushing and shouting. Your message should be around a minute but don’t worry if it’s longer.
  • Don’t forget to play your message back and check you are happy with it.  It’s normal to mess up the words a few times, so don’t worry if you don’t get it right first time. Sometimes it’s fun to include the outtakes!
  • Click here for some tips to help if you are camera shy.

Don’t forget to smile and have fun!



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