How to sharpen your online teaching presence

confident elegant lady in eyeglasses hosting webinar
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

A key insight from conversations with experienced and aspiring educational content creators on YouTube is about developing an online presence. Is it similar to on stage presence – just digital? Yes and No. So many different elements factor into your online teaching presence.

The often conversational tone of YouTubers is remarkable different than a lecturer addressing a classroom. It is more like a chat across a coffee table. And this works well, because usually, videos are consumed in a private setting. Which is different than sitting in a lecture hall with many others.

What can we learn from educational YouTubers for online teaching? A lot. Scripting, for example. When you start the video, you get thrown a hook that seeks to catch your attention. It is a promise on value to be delivered. Then comes an introduction to who is speaking.

And then the delivery on the promise with the actual content. Often, the value is a mix of education and entertainment. And of course, you are asked to “hit like and subscribe to the channel”, often paired with a suggestion for a next video to watch. Audience retention matters.

Embedded into such frameworks, the skilled interpersonal communication goes digital. Body language, gestures, mimics, and articulation, posture, the modulation of your voice, gaze and eye contact – all of these and more are part of your communication repertoire that translate relatively well to video.

But you need to add framing, meaning what viewers can see of you and your background. The lighting of the talent and the scene is even more relevant. Especially the illumination of your face with a key light is a dealbreaker. Ultimately, the audio quality and video quality matter.

Although the medium is video, audio quality matters most. Get a good microphone. And also having a good DSLR camera and lense with a bokeh effect and a nicely blurred background directly helps to stand out, because the viewer’s attention is guided to what is in focus.

What’s to learn for your online teaching presence? Hone your skills in storytelling and improve the production quality of your video signal. Make your on-stage moments matter with more impact. And make it conversational, allow yourself to smile.

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