How to create impact with your video essay

Many schools ask for video essays to be included with the college application. Find out the common mistakes that students make when creating video essays so that you can create a winning video essay for your application.

Many colleges and universities overseas (like the Kellogg School of Management at North-western University) offer students the option (or make it mandatory) to submit video essay answers to pre-recorded questions during application. Indian students applying to study abroad at colleges in the US, UK and elsewhere along with millions of others would do well to avoid some of the common mistakes that people make when creating their video essays. Here is a look at some tips on how to create impact in your video essay.

How You Say It Is Most Important

It is important to note that experts believe that in video essays what you have to say is less important than how you say it. Colleges ask for video essays in order to get to know you better. Of course the hopes, ambitions and reasons that you give for wanting to apply to the college is important, but the verbal communication in your YouTube essay will account for less than 10 percent of the total impact of your message.

The most important component of your video communication is believed to be the visual impact (55 percent). This means your non-verbal behaviour and your body language counts more than you realize. The rest of the impact is created by your tone of voice.

Verbal Impact Tips

There are some things to keep in mind about what you say in your message. Never be vague; be specific about your skills, life experiences, or a unique perspective that you can bring to the college, your classmates or the student community.

Keep your message organized – let it flow naturally and have a central theme, rather than be a stitched up narration of your various skills. Do you have a specific goal that has drawn you to the university? Talk about skills/expectations related to that goal.

Always introduce yourself in a warm, friendly and engaging way, avoiding the use of profane or slang language. Never have an abrupt ending. Close with a "thank you for watching this video" and express your hope of entering the college.

Tips for Good Vocal Communication

You should sound articulate, confident, clear and passionate in your delivery. Do not pause or use "ahs" and "ums" to fill in silences. You may want to write a rough script down and practice it before you create your video, but sound natural when you say it. Do not be too loud or too quiet when you record. Speak at a reasonable speed – not too fast or slow. Have family and friends review your video before you submit.

Tips for a Good Visual Impact

Your visual impact should be professional. No matter what location you create your video in – whether in a room or a football field, you should look neat, confident and put-together. Some schools may have a dress guideline. If not, choose an outfit that goes with the content and style of your message. Men should shave and get a haircut, women should wear minimal jewellery and light make-up. Try to shoot in a location you are comfortable in.

Sit or stand straight and lean forward a little. Keep your hand position neutral and only use them to naturally emphasize points. Pick a spot in your camera to maintain eye contact consistently. Smile while you speak, breathe naturally and use good lighting so that your face is visible.

You can read up on some more information on how to prepare for a video essay, that will help you ace the entire application process.

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