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Showing posts from September, 2010

So You Hate The Way You Look & Sound in Video? Here's What You Can Do About It.

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Many times I have heard people say "I hate the way I look on video", or "I hate the way I sound in recordings". This is nothing weird; if you are not used to being recorded then there is always a disconnect between the way you see yourself -- always a mirror image -- and the way others see you. And you hear your voice partly through your head so it sounds different to you. Add to that the technical limitations of affordable hardware and its no surprise that occasional video makers are so disappointed. But there are some concrete things you can do about it.

1. GET USED TO IT. First of all it helps if you see yourself and hear yourself on video more often so you get used to how it looks and sounds. The first time will probably be a surprise but after a few attempts it will seem much more like you. Try also watching yourself on video in a mirror to get a more realistic idea of how others see you.
2. LET THERE BE LIGHT. Many problems are just caused by poor light…

Writing & Speaking Lessons from a Primatologist: Learning from Frans de Waal

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This week I was fortunate enough to see the primatologist Frans de Waal speaking at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. He spoke about empathy in primates -- the topic of his most recent book, The Age of Empathy; he also spoke about popular science writing and how he mastered this difficult craft. His lessons are especially interesting for people who are at the beginning of their career, but also useful for people who are already well established in their field.

Professor de Waal explained that his career as a writer of scientific books for the general public began in the 1970s while he was a young scientist working at Arnhem Zoo in the Netherlands. Arnhem had at that time the world's largest colony of captive chimpanzees and his job was to study their behavior. Out of gratitude for this unique opportunity he volunteered to present lectures for visitors to the zoo. Visitors were mostly not scientists and this experience taught him what bores people and what enga…