4 video mistakes you’re probably making with donors
Love it or hate it, video is here to stay!
If you’re like most fundraisers, you’re connecting with donors in video meetings, or using personalized video to thank your supporters - and this is probably becoming even more important the closer we get to year-end.
I spend a lot of my time on video, including client meetings, live broadcasts, and teaching online - so if I seem familiar with any of the following mistakes, it’s because I’ve made them all myself, and learned a lot through trial and error!
Today, I wanted to share some of the most common mistakes I see on video, as well as a few of my favourite easy fixes (plus one that may take a bit of practice!).
Your camera is too low
This is probably the most common video mistake I see fundraisers making - and luckily, it’s one of the easiest problems to fix.
Ideally, you should aim to position your camera at your eye level, or just slightly above (too high can be just as much a problem as too low!)
You need to be extra aware of your body language during video meetings, and looking down a lot can signal to the viewer that you’re feeling guilty, or you’re trying to hide something.
Positioning your camera at eye level is also more comfortable and sustainable over the course of a work day, and can help you avoid “tech neck” - a repetitive strain problem that’s on the rise since so many people have started working from home.
You can use just about anything you have around the house to raise your camera level. I have a stack of books that I pop under my laptop any time I lead a webinar, or do a live video - and I’ve seen people improvising with everything from shoe boxes to ironing boards!
2. You don’t make eye contact
The most counterintuitive tip I have for you is also the hardest to master – but it may make the biggest difference to your donor’s feeling of connection with you when you are on a video.
Looking into the lens creates the impression of eye contact for the viewer – it’s important to build a sense of connection and trust with your donor.
Experiment with this one yourself next time you’re on a video call with colleagues and see how this feels – it’s a very different experience for the viewer when you use the lens to make eye contact, as opposed to focusing on the image of the screen.
When I talk about looking into the lens during video meetings with donors, the most common question I get is this: how can I see how the donor is reacting if I’m looking into the lens instead of at their image on the screen?
Think of it like the eye contact you’d make in an in person meeting - you wouldn’t make unbroken eye contact the whole time you were together, or you’d completely unnerve your donor!
While optimal eye contact can vary, a good general starting point is the 50/70 rule - aim to maintain eye contact 50% of the time when speaking and 70% of the time when listening.
3. Your have distracting background noise
Background noise can be completely out of your control - my neighbour has been under construction for months now, and I never know what new power tool horrors a work day will bring.
While I can’t control my neighbour’s noisy construction, there is some great tech available to make sure background noise isn’t impacting my important video calls.
Krisp is a noise cancelling app that screens out everything from barking dogs to crying babies. And even better - you can also use it to screen out other people’s background noise if you are on a noisy conference call!
I use the paid version, and it’s worth every penny - they also have a robust free version if you’d like to check it out.
4. Your internet connection is spotty
“Oh, hang on - you’re frozen…”
That’s not something you want to hear if you’re in a high stakes meeting with an important donor.
Granted, the quality of your internet connection can be tough to fix if you are in a rural location or other spot that has poor coverage. But even if you do have access to high speed internet, depending on wifi during an important video meeting with your donor can be a recipe for disaster.
Any time you can’t afford an unstable internet connection, consider hardwiring into your modem. If you’re using a laptop, you’ll need an ethernet cable and a USB-to-ethernet converter (often charmingly referred to as a dongle - I just love that word!) both easily available anywhere you can buy electronics.
If the tech ever feels overwhelming, let me assure you - if I can do it, you can too!
I hope you’ve found my road tested tips helpful. I’d love to hear from you - let me know, what tricks, tech or tools have you discovered for more effective video with your donors?
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Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraising expert
with 20+ years experience raising millions of dollars across the arts, education, health and human services sectors. If you want to raise more 5, 6 and even 7-figure donations your non-profit, you can download Emma’s free Blueprint for Major Gift Success, and learn the 4 crucial steps to raising big gifts (at any size shop!)