Snapchat users watch nearly 10 billion videos per day, and that's just one social platform. Today, videos are part of our everyday routine, whether consumers are watching news updates on their favorite local website or staying up-to-date with their friends via Instagram stories.
It's the ease of use and entertainment from social platforms, combined with quick access to recording technology on smartphones, that encourages this fun and social video activity.
Yet, when it's time for video in a more structured environment, say for work, the free-spirited creativity of social videos goes right out the window. Suddenly, videos are intimidating, simply because we're afraid of how we'll look on camera or what others will think. Also, our heads can also play tricks on us. For example, we sound different on video than when we're speaking, and that messes with our sense of ourselves—our self-identity and self-esteem.
Instead of letting our own minds stunt creativity, however, focus instead on improving the outcome by using the following three approaches.
1. Start small with a low-risk video
When creating your first video, start with a low-risk video—in other words, one that's not going on the homepage of your website. Low-risk videos can range from an educational piece for a blog to an internal documentation supplement or a sales introduction.
Starting off small with this type of video helps build experience and confidence so that when it comes time to create bigger—and more valuable—pieces, it's less stressful.
To reduce the risk of complicating the videos, it's best to tackle a very specific, yet manageable topic. Here is a short list of questions to help you narrow down the topic:
- What is a question you answer every day?
- What is a common point of confusion about your business?
- What is a point of friction for customers or users?
- Is there an internal process that could be explained better?
Once the topic is selected, identify the goal of the video: clarifications to reduce questions, brand awareness, lead generation, simple email response...? Keep that goal at the forefront of the entire creation process to ensure the video is optimized to reach that goal.
2. Sound authentic and natural with a script
It's essential to write a video script; though some may argue scripts can make a recording come off too planned, that only happens if the person doesn't practice enough. Start by going back to the video's goals (what are you trying to achieve?) and then break down the points that need to be addressed to reach those goals.
To identify those points, it's helpful to answer a short series of questions, which can then be used as a guide:
- What is the point of the video? Why is it being made?
- Who is the target audience?
- Is the audience familiar with you/your company?
- Should the audience have an understanding/knowledge of you/your company for context?
- What are 2-4 takeaways from the video?
- Is there another video you could compare the style to?
- Is there a call to action or word of inspiration to leave the viewer with?
- How should the viewer feel after the video?
- Where will this video live? Blog? In-app? Landing page? Learning center? Social?
- Can you think of any additional footage that would help the video? Screencasts? Live-action shots?
While drafting the script, keep it conversational and avoid using buzzwords and heavy vocabulary.
Once the script is complete, step away from it for a few minutes (or hours), and read it out loud. How does it sound? Does it have a good flow? If not, adjust it, play around with the structure, and then experiment with your inflections and even your facial expressions.
Practice reading it out loud several times. That repetition will help you get accustomed to the script, which will result in a video that looks and sounds natural.
3. Look good on camera
With a completed script, it's time to grab your laptop, smartphone, or GoPro and get to work on the production.
You look good when the lighting makes you look good; it's one of the most important factors in creating a polished video. So it's essential to record in a well-lit area. Whether it's lighting from a window, a lamp, or a brightly lit computer, you want to position yourself so that you're facing the light.
And, of course, despite what the selfie-obsessed might say, the most flattering angle for a camera is directly in front of you, not angling up or down. Position the camera just above eye level and hit record.
If you're concerned about showing your face on camera, consider this: People are born with an innate desire to connect through human faces. Our brains are equipped with neural circuits that literally respond only to faces; so, if you want your video to be a success, you have to showcase your mug.
And if you're feeling extra inspired, gather some additional footage, known as B-roll, which can be recordings from other videos, still screenshots, screencasts, etc., and import everything into an application like iMovie or Adobe Premiere. Add the B-roll into your video to help tell the story.
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Now that everything is put together, it's time to replay the video for quality assurance. Remember, your brain might start playing some evil tricks on you, and suddenly all your subtle nuances won't feel so subtle, but it's important to ignore that voice in your head and forge on.
At the end of the day, it's only a pre-recorded video; so, if you're not crazy about the results, scrap it and record a new one until you have a video that you're ready to share with the world... or maybe just one specific person.
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