Shooting a video might be easy for the Hollywood showbiz types. It might be a breeze for models in commercials that make products look so intriguing we have to buy them. It also might be a cake walk for actors, singers and dancers who seem to live their lives on camera. But for most of us in the business community, shooting a video is a daunting task. There are professionals who direct huge teams and don't give a second thought about going before a large gathering to discuss that quarter's sales figures, deliver a motivational talk or gear up their teams for a tough challenge. But when these same people face a video camera, they stutter, their palms become sweaty and they look for excuses to duck out of the ordeal!
I faced this situation recently when we had to shoot some videos of Affinity Express team members that will be featured on our new website. It put a lot of stress on all of us—the actors as well as planners behind the scene. But it also gave us an experience to remember. The proud smiles on participants' faces when they watched their final videos made all of the challenges worth facing. That's why I thought about writing the key things to keep in mind while shooting a business video.
Tell a story
A good video is a journey that starts with an introduction, moves ahead to share an experience and ends with a message or final thought. Leaving out any of the three parts will disappoint the audience. The story could be told through words such as customer testimonials, by showing a process as in the making or use of a product or with the coverage of a business event.
Choose willing participants
I realized that the camera reveals everything so it is obvious which participants are uninterested or unwilling in the video. That's why rule number one is to use only participants who want to be included. Their desire to deliver will make the process much faster and the results more natural and real.
Put the subject at ease
A video that shows people shifting uneasily, fidgeting and swallowing their words is never going to be a hit with your customers. To make a lasting impression, our team members had to appear confident and comfortable. My job was to talk to them before, during and after the shoot to put their anxieties to rest. First, I explained how the video would be shot, what we were looking for and how we would edit. Then we discussed what they enjoy about their jobs, what motivates them and what they have gained working for Affinity Express. After some minutes of relaxed chat, we saw visible differences in their body language and the interviews on camera went smoothly.
Consider your audience
I wish there was a camera with a human face that could emote back while being spoken to but that is not the case. This makes it very difficult to not sound like a robot while talking to one (and it gets far worse if you are reading from cue cards or referring to a script!). The solution is to encourage the subjects to think about the audience and speak as if they are actually talking to them. An alternative is to have them speak to you and stand near the camera.
Think sound bites
When the participants spoke in paragraphs, they would sometimes miss the key points and become repetitious. To keep the video concise, we asked them to curb the urge to talk at length. Viewers of the videos will have short attention spans. We had to coach team members to think in advance about what was most important to convey and then speak in short sentences with crisp execution. We also made sure that the points were spoken in the order of relevance.
Keep the background clean
In our interview videos, we kept the focus on the actors. The background was a plain one with just the company's logo. This way it did not ask for too much attention. Potted plants, furniture, paintings, plaques and all sorts of other decorations are great for dressing up your offices but they are distracting in videos.
Use a small microphone
The participants being interviewed are not just intimidated by the camera but they also get nervous around big microphones. That's why, in our sessions, we used a small collar microphone. It put them at ease as they quickly forgot it was there.
Let the emotions show
Don't let subjects speak in a monotone. If your video doesn't feature excitement, cheer, hope and other emotions, your audience will click onto something else before the second sentence. A little guidance on modulating the pitch, emphasizing key words and speaking more clearly made the sentences of our employees more engaging and interesting.
Plan lighting and sound
Standing right below a light source will give participants big shadows under their eyes and if there isn't enough light, a video can look bleak. If you do not have professional lighting for a shoot, it is best to use a room with windows that let in lots of natural light.
In terms of the sound, the volume of the speakers should be high and words should not sound muffled as if people are mumbling. The audience will only listen if they don't have to strain to understand what is being said.
These are just a few of the tips we learned while shooting our videos. Since we have a few more subjects to cover in the coming weeks, we'll certainly apply them in the coming days and may pick up even more to share with you.
What other advice do you have for businesses who want to start shooting videos to promote their products and services?