Nonverbal Communication Project

Here is exercise that I'm working on for a nonverbal book I'm doing that I thought might be useful. It contains just a few general instructions for creating a video and lots of video examples. Although most clearly directed at the nonverbal course, I thought this might also be appropriate in interpersonal and hybrid courses as well. The videos noted here might also prove useful to interject periodically throughout a course in nonverbal/interpersonal/human communication.

Creating a Video of Nonverbal Communication


An excellent experience for learning about nonverbal communication is to teach it. Consequently, a popular assignment in many nonverbal communication courses is to create a video to teach some aspect of nonverbal communication. You might then upload it to YouTube or some similar site, exchange videos with others, and critique each other’s videos.

There are numerous websites that illustrate and demonstrate the ways to go about making a video. For example, http://www.youtube.com/create offers a variety of suggestions for creating a video. And, of course, there are a variety of websites that will help you film, design, and edit your video. Just search for “video design,” “create video,” or similar terms and you’ll find the most recent videos on creating videos. These websites and their accompanying videos—as well as all the videos you’ve already watched--will provide a lot better instruction than any print description could.  

In addition to the suggestions you’ll find online, consider these as well.

1.      Keep your video short—aim for 2 minutes. This will force you to compact your ideas but still treat a single idea in some depth. 

2.      Clarify the purpose you want to achieve. Do you want to illustrate specific gestures or an interaction? Do you want to compare nonverbals in different cultures? Once you’ve formulated your purpose, you’ll be better able to select appropriate ways of creating your video.

3.      Select the appropriate means for achieving your purpose. So, for example, if you want to illustrate different gestures in different cultures, then you’ll likely need members of both cultures to demonstrate the gestures or you’ll need photos or graphics.

4.      Keep your subject limited. Don’t try to cover too much. For your first nonverbal communication video, consider focusing on one code and illustrating one aspect of that code—for example, if you want to focus on touch, then you might limit your video to, say, relationship touching. Or, if you want to focus on gestures, you might limit your video to adaptors or illustrators. The idea here is to cover a limited topic but in some depth rather than a broad topic in only general terms.

5.      If you use PowerPoint or Prezi slides, keep them simple. Viewers are not likely to read slides with too much information on them. Similarly don’t crowd the slides with visual images. Use additional slides rather than crowd them.

6.      Keep it professional. You may find it useful to add this video to your resume should you want employers to see it. Of course, if it’s on a public site, prospective employers are very likely to see it whether you want them to or not.

7.      Here is a list of nonverbal communication videos that you can use as examples of the varied types of videos you might create. It should prove useful to review some of these with the idea of your doing your own video. What are some of the pitfalls that you’d want to avoid? What are some of the clever techniques that you might want to adapt?

These videos vary widely in just about every conceivable way. Some are quite professional and sophisticated in terms of production while others are the works of beginners with little technical equipment. Some are basically informational—those produced by colleges and narrated by professors, for example—while others are promotional for books or seminars. Some are designed to sell a product and others are designed to fulfill a requirement in a communication course. Some of the videos make well-substantiated claims, the kinds of conclusions you find in your nonverbal communication textbooks and research articles. Others, however, make claims beyond what most academics would accept. For example, if you just watched the videos you’d come away with the idea that you can read a person like a book. Of course, you can’t.