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What's your one question?

icon of a person holding a board with a question mark

Thank you for your interest in the 'One Question' project, it’s a great opportunity to grow and develop your research communication skills in a creative way, whilst feeding the insatiably curious minds of the general public!

We would like you to answer the one question you would love to be asked in a short video of three minutes or less. We know that you are currently probably working from home, which puts limitations on the equipment you have to record this, but nowadays, most of us have video recording equipment in our phones, laptops and tablets, and we are not expecting polished, professional looking results. Please see a quick guide on how to shoot your video at home below, and click here for a pdf with more detailed instructions, diagrams and helpful video links to help you make the best video you can. 

Examples

Below are some examples of the kind of video we're looking for:

Dr Rebecca Wade's contributions to the #MuseumFromHome thread on Twitter - she has a nice simple background, she's framed well and speaks slowly and clearly with very relaxed and informal manner. She also has a clear, simple story arc (beginning, middle and end), making her easy to follow.

Dr Sam Rowe's contribution to the #ScienceFromHome thread on Twitter - another example of clear speech with good pacing and a nice clear story arc, making him easy to follow and understand. 

Dr Emma Yhnell's contribution to the #ScienceFromHome thread on Twitter - she's kept her video very short and simple, and her speech is slow, clear and easy to understand.

Gwen K.Lyn's contribution to the #ScienceAtHome thread on Twitter - we get a glimpse into her life and work in the background she has chosen for this video and she's relaxed and smiling with a friendly and informal tone.

Preparation

What do you want to say? Write out the information you want to cover and practice speaking it slowly and clearly.

  • For 3 minutes you should have roughly 300 – 450 words. If you have fewer than this, that’s ok too! 
  • Remember your audience is the general public, write for them. Try to avoid technical jargon.

Set!

  • Find the quietest space available, ideally a fully enclosed room with a door and a window.
  • Set yourself up with a chair facing the window or main source of light at a slight angle, and a table in front of you. If you will be standing, find something to mark your correct position on the floor once you have set up your camera.
  • Keep the background behind you simple and free of distracting things/people/pets/TV or computer screens.

Lights!

  • You don’t need to buy any special lights for this – natural light from a window is fantastic and very flattering!
  • Face the light! Whether it’s artificial light or a window with natural daylight, make sure you are facing it. If you sit with a window/light behind you, you will be silhouetted against it.

Camera!

  • No expensive professional equipment necessary - a smartphone, laptop, tablet or any other camera with a video function will do.
  • Make sure your camera/phone/tablet is stable while recording – if you have someone at home who can do the recording for you, that will help. If you have a tripod, that’s great! 
  • Framing – record in landscape mode (phone on its side rather than upright) and make sure your head and shoulders are completely visible, looking directly into the camera. Ideally leave a small bit of space above your head, your eyes should not be in the middle of the frame but in the upper third.

Sound!

  • Try to find a quiet room with doors and windows shut. Soft furnishings such as rugs, cushions and curtains help absorb background noise and reduce echo. 
  • Make sure the TV/radio is off – not just because of noise but also because you can run into copyright issues on YouTube and Facebook if your video contains copyrighted music that belongs to someone else.
  • If you have a microphone that’s small and unobtrusive, such as a lapel mic, great! This will help the audio quality and reduce background noise.
  • If you don’t have an external microphone, speak loudly and clearly and enunciate! Without an external microphone, your phone/tablet/laptop has to rely on its built-in microphone to record, so practice projecting your voice (without shouting).

 Action!

  • Practice what you are going to say several times before you start recording.
  • Remember your key points and try to speak naturally, as if you were speaking to just one person. 
  • Video yourself and watch back and see what is working and what isn’t.
  • Record many takes. Very few people will get it right on the first try. It’s ok if you need to try it again and again.
  • Get an honest friend/family member/colleague to watch and give you constructive criticism.
  • Sit/stand up straight, shoulders back and smile!
  • ‘What do I do with my hands? I feel awkward!’ If you naturally gesticulate a lot when speaking, don’t artificially stop yourself. Just be careful that you don’t block your face or distract too much from your speech. If you don’t normally gesticulate, make sure you have a table or desk in front of you to rest your hands on. Again, shoot a test video or two to see how it looks and try different things. But DO NOT cross your arms! This appears defensive and can make it harder for your audience to relate to you.

Send!

It should be possible to get it all in one take without editing required, if you stick to this simple set-up. If you have editing software and skills, that's great. If not, just send us your best take via Wetransfer to Naomi at Naomi.Clements-Brod@admin.cam.ac.uk​ and we'll take care of the rest.

We hope you have a great time building your research communication skills through video! We look forward to seeing what you create. Need more help? Click here to download a more detailed pdf how-to guide with diagrams, and please do get in touch with Naomi if you have any questions or need more advice at Naomi.Clements-Brod@admin.cam.ac.uk​