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SECG Blog - How to communicate through video

Dr David Betts & Danielle Cave
AAG SECG Communications Team

NB: image does not link

Communicating through video is an emerging part of many professional, academic, and research-based positions. While we found ourselves having to adapt significant aspects of our working lives to videos and teleconferencing in light of COVID-19, many of our roles were already seeing an increase in the use of videos to communicate research, practice insights, and reflections from our work.

One of the more common types of video formats is the use of pre-recorded videos to convey research findings, material, and implications. Pre-recorded videos, mostly commonly distributed online, allow you to introduce your potential audience to your work in a quick, succinct, and – most importantly – in an engaging way.

For researchers and academics, especially for those of us in the early career stage our profession, these short videos are an increasingly popular way of getting others to engage with our work, increasing our visibility, and helping us to stand-out amidst large volumes of published and shared content. This type of research communication is easy to share, especially via social media and email.

But what makes a good video? And how does that differ from standard forms of academic and professional communication? Well, there are a few quick things to keep in mind as you begin to prepare your video communication, regardless of the content or focus.

Keep it quick, short, and clear. People are much more likely to switch off during a ten minute video that meanders before it gets to the point it is trying to make, but a short and directed video that gets to the purpose of your work will keep people engaged and wanting to know more. Accessibility is also important – be clear, use images, make sure you can be heard, and check that any text you use is easily readable. Finally, have a message, prompt, or call to action. You want people to continue to read your work, article, or research, and not just to look at your video, so tell them where to find more information and material.

One of the most common experiences available to student and early career researchers to communicate through video is through video abstracts. These videos can accompany your journal article and provide a brief overview of your work, usually in just 3-4 minutes. They are easily accessible and can help increase engagement with your research from non-academic audiences.

AAG SECG Communications Team Member, Danielle was recently involved in a pilot project at the University of Queensland focused on creating video abstracts. Her narrative review looking at food fortification strategies in aged care homes from a foodservice perspective was recently published open access in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. However, to increase visibility of her article to non-academic audiences, such as aged care staff, she was interested in creating a video abstract.

The first step in creating a video abstract, or any communication via video is to develop a script. This script needs to be relevant to non-academic audiences and should avoid using jargon. At this stage, it can be beneficial to get feedback from someone outside of your research field. This person will be able to give you feedback on your choice of words and if they are suitable for your target audience.

The next step is to practice speaking slowly and focusing on one focal point while you speak, which is the camera. Once you are happy with your script, the speed of your presentation and maintaining eye contact with the camera, it is time to get filming. When filming, try to film against a plain background, for example a white wall and make sure that you have good lighting and sound. This will likely take longer than you have first anticipated, but the most important part is to maintain enthusiasm throughout the filming process so that it is engaging for your viewers.

Since Danielle’s video abstract was uploaded alongside her paper, she has seen a broader dissemination of her research. This includes being interviewed for an article in the November/December issue of Australian Ageing Agenda, as well as being invited to discuss her research at The Lantern Project’s Collaboration Meeting in April 2020.

With the abrupt shift to remote and distance work amid COVID-19, professional, academic, and research work suddenly looks drastically different. For many of us, this has resulted in a reliance on various forms of new communication, particularly using videos to convey our ideas, projects, and outputs. Video communication offers a solution to distance-based styles of working, and the use of videos to share our work allows us the opportunity to add a sense of real, human connection to who we are, what we do, and the work we put out into the world.

02 Oct 2020


Danielle is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and PhD Candidate. Danielle holds a Master of Dietetics Studies from The University of Queensland and a Bachelor of Nutrition Science from Queensland University of Technology. Her research interests are nutrition for older adults, particularly those living in aged care homes. Her doctorate research focuses on exploring the sustainability of food fortification within the foodservice systems of aged care homes.

Dr David Betts is a Lecturer in the Social Work program in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle. His research interests include gerontology, the wellbeing of older sexual and gender minorities, and clinical social work practice. His clinical practice background includes working as a registered social worker in New Zealand in the field of health, and as a community support worker. Dr Betts’ PhD focused on older sexual and gender minorities developing supportive interpersonal and community networks, evaluating concerns facing the research cohort as they age, and critiques the reliance on legislation and social policy as a benchmark for social change.

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