Science videos need HUMANITY


Showing your humanity is what science needs

This video and post is a real behind the scenes look into how SciAll’s amazing scientists and collaborators make and prepare themselves to make videos. In fact, it starts with Rossana Maguiña, Pollination Biologist, in her home, editing the video and preparing to share it.

The video that she is editing (included at the top of this post) is a conversation with part of SciAll’s Team of scientists on how to prepare themselves to make relatable science videos for the channel. It’s a no frills real discussion, in a format everyone is all too familiar with post 2020 – Zoom conference!

In this recorded discussion, SciAll’s Founder, Dr. Mike Gil, is leading the conversation and asking the team of professional science collaborators to show their human side when in front of the camera. To not only focus on the science. Rossana confirms she also especially wants you to see the human side of all of us.

The Zoom recording starts about a minute in if you’d like to jump ahead 😊

It is incredibly difficult to be real on camera

It’s really important, but man it’s a struggle. It’s challenging. Mike even admits he still struggles with it, and he’s been making videos for over 5 years at this point!

Everyone struggles, and is expected to be struggling, to be real on camera.

Or… they’re an anomaly and the rest of us envy them tremendously! But, the solidarity in the co-struggle is a powerful thing and asset.

You can be an authority figure that gives advice in a way that portrays you really do know everything… but you’re not revealing your humanity very much. It’s very challenging to get people not already very interested in science to be interested in those kinds of videos.

The #1 criterion to get people to care about your videos and watch them, is to see your humanity

The most effective way to be human on video as a vlogger, is to be OK with mistakes. Be OK with imperfection. Be OK with stumbling over your words. Including that kind of stuff, is gold.

::cue the team panicking inside::

It’s counter intuitive, because we all want to be perfect. This is a team of scientists, we’re are all used to being very prepared when we speak and having everything very figured out beforehand. But, that’s the opposite of what works and we want for our content.

So, how does our team go about showing their imperfections and human side?

Well… Dr. Alex Jentsch, Nuclear Physicist, suggests unironically, a 1 drink minimum before recording! (as age and otherwise appropriate of course).

Really, the goal is to find what works for you to loosen yourself up a bit. As Alex explains, he’s so used to being in “meeting mode” when he’s in front of his computer. It’s hard to loosen up. To help with this, he’s found 2 things that are really important:

  1. Be in a comfortable place
  2. Don’t do it on a work night

For picking the day, he finds that on the weekends he’s already a little more chill. He’s done some of his recordings in the evening during the week, and feels he comes off more robotic than when it’s not a work day (check out this clip about 2 min in his robot Alex impression). There’s not a lot of “fun Alex” in that mode. Fun Alex tends to be buried deep down Monday through Friday.

It’s different than preparing for a scientific talk

Dr. Joe Pfaller, Sea Turtle Biologist, found himself preparing for video recordings the same way he would prepare for a talk. His talks to tend to be much more candid than a lot of people can be, but when he wrote scripts down and then went to do the video it was obvious he was reading off a script. Trying to get away from that has been his big struggle.

Mike chimes in to agree, it can’t be stressed enough to just be your real self.

It can only come with time and practice. Be your real self. Like you would be with your friends, goofing around. Talk in your videos like you’re explaining it to your nephew or niece… but sometimes maybe a little more rigid than you would be with them.

Well… It can be hard to talk to kids

Just as a fun note, a few of our professional scientists have a hard time talking to children. For example, Mike isn’t around children very much and finds himself speaking to them like they’re adults. They don’t like it, and he doesn’t like their reaction (haha). The whole thing falls apart.

Joe’s problem is the kids will say “What’s that?” and he’ll respond with “It’s an Echinoderm!” and they look at him sideways, and walk away… He has difficulty recalling the simple terms, and gives them too much detail and information.

You’re not alone in the struggle

The main thing for our collaborators, and any vlogger, to remember is: You’re not alone.

But also, challenge yourself. Push yourself. Just like anything.

As you get better with any craft, including science, it takes pushing yourself and getting out of your comfort zone. Embrace the fact that humanity is what people need.

If you support our efforts to make science accessible to all, then PLEASE:

1) Share this video! & tell your friends why you care
2) Join our Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/sciallorg) to make regular donations (as little as $1/month!) & access exclusive behind-the-scenes content, video-creation polls, swag, etc., and/or
3) Make a donation here (ANY amount helps): https://sciall.org/donate/

We’re 100% volunteer run, which means that 100% of your donation will go toward getting our videos in front of the eyes of more people (especially underserved middle and high school-aged kids).

Complete a short survey after watching here (your anonymous input helps us fine-tune our video and get the support to make more!): https://forms.gle/CewKJsVgU58mF2g76
Let’s Get The Secret Out…

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