How to tell powerful and meaningful stories through video

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Telling your story on-camera. For mature and emerging brands, startups and Fortune 500s, B2B and B2C companies, the very concept can be daunting. But it’s becoming part of the prerequisite for sales pitches, investor and board presentations, accelerator applications, VC presentations, wherever visuals can have an impact.

Video is now de riguer in part due to science: Our brains processes visual information 60,000 times faster than words, and one minute of video is considered equivalent to around 1.8 million words. And in part due to business: Content-based (especially video-based) marketing is said to increase qualified marketing leads 512% and revenue by more than 6x.

The goal of any video is not to sell, but to get the next meeting through a combination of information and entertainment. Fill in the details later.

So, where do you start? What do you say? How, in short, do you make a meaningful piece of video? Well, that’s why I’m here. To help you tell a concise and meaningful story, on-camera via Five Simple Strategies:

Invest in Equipment and/or Personnel: While I don’t recommend going out and splurging on a $50k RED Camera or 4K, you may want to make the investment in some decent equipment or an outsourced content production firm.

Production Values over Virality: In marketing, you’re judged by your weakest link, and if you put together a video that looks like it was shot inside the trunk of your car, you simply won’t get the type of high-quality customer traffic you need. Yes, I know some lousy production value videos go viral. Laughing Baby? Sneezing Panda? These are the exception, not the rule.

What to get: If you’re going the DIY route, find a reputable outlet where the staff knows a thing or two. Do your research and know the price you should be paying.

Go Pro if you’re unsure: There’s still a lot you can do incorrectly up even with good equipment (as we’ll talk about in next section), so it does make sense to have someone on staff that knows what they’re doing–or look for outside firms depending on your cost and needs. Remember, DIY video isn’t a cost saver if it’s unusable or lousy.

Take a class: Filming and editing take practice and skill. You won’t pick up a camera and become Kurosawa. Do you know how not to back-light your subject? At what frame rate to film? The proper camera angle for an interview? If you’re going to go the DIY road, invest some time in a film and editing class.

Rules for Appearing On Camera: Whether or not you do hire an outside firm, you’ll still have to appear on camera. People want to hear from you, not some disarmingly handsome actor (unless Hugh Grant’s your uncle). So a few quick rules:

A lot to think about, right? It’s all these little things that in the “video gestalt” add up to make a big difference.

This is one of those gossamer ideas. Brand. But you certainly should have a strong idea of your brand, your message/tone, your visuals and your identity before filming anything. If not, you’ll end up filming it again when you do have an idea.

Take some time to really think about who you are, and how you can communicate that visually. Does anyone remember the Dollar Shave Club Video? Epic. It said something about who they were.

Who Are You? Dovetailing with Brand, you want to showcase your own personality. Are you weird, quirky, offbeat, colorful, vengeful, artistic, cool, smooth, lewd, crude…whatever. Show it off.

“Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken.” Oscar Wilde has a good point here. There is nothing more boring to an audience than a) you trying to be a reporter, or b) someone trying to be who they’re not. It comes across as disingenuous and just plain wrong. Have fun. Relax.

Be Natural-Some Examples: One of our correspondents at AlleyWire, Meg Maley, really demonstrates this well with her story on Stray Boots. You get a real sense of her personality. And check out the folks here with BeltBox. There’s a connection to this company and its founders in just a short time because they’re genuine.

Show And Don’t Tell! This is one of those hackneyed lines repeated ad nauseum by journalism professors. And for once, the ivory tower is right. This is a visual medium. Don’t have “just you” talking on camera in your office for any more than 5-10 seconds. Cover it up with some broll and quick cuts-visually represent yourself and the company.

How To Tell A Meaningful Story Through Video

 

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