Making better corporate video
Do the hard work to make it watchable

Screenshot of an old version of Final Cut Pro

If the company or organisation you work for makes a video about a project or a piece of work, it’s important to make sure that the result is actually a video about the work. Too often, the video is treated as PR, and turns into something horrible, boring and unwatchable.

Here are a few tips to prevent that happening.

Keep the management out of it

If senior people like the CEO or members of the board ask to be included in the video, try to deter them.

They are usually far removed from the work, which means they can rarely talk about it with much authority. They’ll usually want to say something scripted, which makes them look and sound wooden on camera.

The result is a film that’s too long, too boring, includes far too many people, and spends more time talking about the “vision” behind the thing than showing the thing itself.

The film becomes something that meets the organisation’s needs, not the needs of the people who are expected to watch it.

Tell the CEO and members of the board that their input isn’t required. Tell the stakeholders that they won’t necessarily be mentioned by name, or have their logos displayed on screen.

The video isn’t about any of those people and their opinions. It’s about the piece of work that’s been done.

Keep it about the work

Show the thing.

Do a demo.

Get the people on the team who made it to talk about it on camera.

Find some users, and ask them what they think.

Tour the building. Show the production process. Meet the teams. Film people doing what they would normally do. Show the prototype, even if it’s just a sketch. Show things that are likely to iterate into other things. Be honest about that. Be open.

Let people be themselves

Don’t force your interviewees to read a script. Just have a conversation with them while a camera’s running. Most people are nervous at first but as the conversation goes on, they relax. You always end up with better material if you do it this way.

This means, of course, that you don’t need to write a script.

By all means plan what you want the film to say, or be about. But don’t script it. A good interviewer will guide the conversation towards the things they want the interviewee to say.

Video is just a tool

Video is a means for you to communicate about other things. What’s important isn’t the video, but the stuff the video exists to communicate.

If you’re struggling to tell the difference, here are some tell-tale signs that someone in your organisation has got the wrong idea about making videos:

Video exists in context

Don’t forget that any short video you make will rarely be shown to anyone without context.

It might be embedded in a slide deck in front of an audience, where a presenter can give context.

It might be embedded in a web page, where you can add text above and below. Or in a Tweet, or social media post, or chatroom.

If there’s a genuine need to mention stakeholders, show logos, share the opinion of the CEO, or add any other detail that’s broader and wider than the work itself: put it in contextual material. Make it additional to the video, not part of it.

Filed under: work
(23 Apr 2018)