• Craig Van Horne

Eye Contact with your Audience :: It can be Simple & Effective


Looking into a camera naturally is a difficult thing to do. Looking into a lens and articulating a message and maintaining the eye line with the viewer on the other end of the communication is virtually impossible for most people. I came across a product some time ago after watching the PBS Documentary Series, ‘America in Primetime‘. To say I was enthralled with the aesthetic and impact of the series would be an understatement. Not only was I a fan of the background used and the lighting, I was also taken with how well the interviewees made eye contact with me, the viewer; and did what Steve McWilliams calls, punctuating with the eyes, where the subject returns eye contact at key moments of delivering their message, something people do in everyday life when having conversations with each other and aren’t generally aware of.

So what does this preamble mean? Well, I found out how that production was able to get the interviewees to looking directly through the lens and into the eyes of the viewer and it’s deceptively simple. We recently used a device called the Eyedirect, invented, made and sold by Steve McWilliams down in Texas. This thing is basically a teleprompter that puts the interviewer’s face in front of the lens, similar to how a teleprompter works, all live, in real time so your subject has someone to look at; just like having a real face to face conversation. And let me tell you after using it with dozens subjects, people whose primary job function is not being in front of a camera, the results are amazing.

It is a very natural and instinctive way to conduct interviews and get an emotional or personal connection across to the viewer. For communications such as investor relations, health and safety or any number of other uses where the executive is seeking to make a connection with the viewer in the process of articulating the message, my opinion is that this tool is invaluable when considering the result. We have done dozens of shoots now and all subjects were able to sit down and immediately make eye contact and maintain it!

Recently we used it on the Western Hockey League :: Raise Your Play project.

We also used it on: Influencer | Ivey Alumni Leadership Award

We originally brought this device into our studio’s kit bag in 2013, after more than two years of use for video productions in Calgary, Edmonton and elsewhere in Alberta; I can say without hesitation this is one of the best decisions regarding kit that I have ever made. For business and corporate communications in our home market of Calgary, this device has been helping executives deliver important video messages to business audiences for more than two years now with excellent results.


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