7 Tips for Making a Successful Video

Having recently completed one hundred videos for over forty different charities and social enterprises, I want to share the lessons I’ve learned in how to make a successful video and how to avoid some common pitfalls.

1. Write down the purpose of the video

This sounds obvious, but a lot of the time people decide they want a video without being 100% clear what they want to achieve with it. Do you want to explain what you do? Teach people something? Gain more twitter followers? Elicit a donation or make a sale? I was once asked to record every session of a three day event and put it on a DVD. I can’t imagine many of the people who were there wanted to relive the entire experience.

2. Show your personality

A video is a great opportunity to express your organisation’s personality. I’m sure Penna is a fantastic company, but I started falling asleep after about 30 seconds of the video on their frontpage. I couldn’t tell you anything that made them unique or any specific problem they might be able to help someone solve. In contrast, the Dollar Shave Club video made me want to buy their razors because it’s charismatic and funny, whilst telling me the benefits of their product. No wonder it’s had over 9 million hits.

3. Plan how you’ll reach your target audience

Don’t just post the video and hope people will see it. Think about where you’ll put the video on your website. Will you send it to your mailing list? Is there an event or presentation you can show it at? How can you use social media to reach specific people or organisations? One of the most watched videos I’ve made was a hand puppet summary of a UN climate conference. We spent several days emailing it, tweeting it and posting it to everyone who was connected with the event. Somehow it ended up being posted on the BBC website by their environment correspondent.

4. Be clear about what you want

Have you seen any videos that are similar to the one you’ve got in mind? It could be that you like different elements of several videos: you like the music of this video, the picture and sound quality of that video, the humour in this one. It’s not until you’re clear what kind of video you want that you can get a realistic quote.

5. Choosing who to hire and how much to pay

There are a huge number of video production companies in London. Go with a recommendation. Look at people’s porfolios. Ask them to submit a proposal with a price indication.

6. Ask what equipment they’re going to be using

If it’s an event with a panel of speakers, how will they record sound for each person? If the filming is in a noisy room, how will they make sure the quality is good enough? Ask them to show you an example of the picture and sound quality they expect to achieve.

7. Put in writing what’s expected from both sides

This is probably the biggest and hardest lesson I’ve learned. It doesn’t mean you need a jargon-filled legal contract, you just need to be as clear as possible what you’re asking for and they need to be as clear as possible what they’re providing. Agree on the number of filming days, the number of sets of changes you can request before the final version, the deadline, the picture and sound quality that you want, the objective of the video and the style of the video. This avoids a project taking longer or costing more than expected. It also minimises the risk of you being disappointed with the final outcome.

I’ll be going into more detail about these tips and providing both good and bad real examples at a free workshop on 20 February at The Hub Westminster and at The Hub Kings Cross on 12 March.

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