Creating a video pitch for your JavaOne 2014 proposal

It is movie time

An innovation for the JavaOne Call for Proposals this year is the request for a 2 minute video.  This seems a really good idea as it allows the selection panels to see what the people pitching sound like, and whether they sound interesting and knowledgeable. It also raises the bar because it takes time and effort to put together.

Having put ours together, we thought it might be helpful to pass on our ‘lessons learnt’…

Write the talk proposal first

If you write the talk first, you will have a clear idea of what you want to pitch and be able to talk lucidly about it. You only have 2 minutes.

It will also make sure you communicate all the technical points about your talk.

Make it a clear task

We set aside an afternoon to plan and film the video pitch. We also found a reasonably quiet location and switched off email/phones/etc.

Have a plan for the video

Very few people can improvise a perfect technical pitch spontaneously. So write a plan beforehand with all the key points you want to make in it. How detailed this will be varies for each person. Some people just need a very brief checklist and others want a detailed script. If possible, you do not want to just read from the script. Practise will make you more confident and allow you to look at the camera more.

Practise, Practise, Practise

The first few run-throughs were total train wrecks! But confidence and familiarity will grow and things quickly fall into place. With a 2 minute talk it is easy to rehearse repeatedly.

The Camera effect

Putting people in front of a camera can make people behave differently. You only need to watch the Video episode on the reality series The Apprentice series to appreciate this!

To minimise this, we tried to keep the camera out of the pitch. So we filmed it on a IPhone as a static single shoot with minimal post-production editing. We actually did 3 takes and choose our favourite afterwards.

Equally, as the man behind the camera I was also conscious of not trying to direct but just letting Ernest and Sylwia tell their message.

Smile

Despite nerves, it is really important to smile and look interested. When not speaking, we found it worked well to look at the camera or at the other speaker.

Final thoughts

Our aim was not to be pitch perfect but to make a video which makes the viewer want to see the whole talk. We hope we achieved that and we hope you have fun with your video…

 

 

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Mark Stephens

System Architect and Lead Developer at IDRSolutions
Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX. He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

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About Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX. He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

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