Video tutorials can be helpful because no one wants to read anymore. Videos are great for demonstrating a point, and they are used frequently for instructional purposes. If you decide a video is the way to go to reach your audience on particular topic, the following is a checklist to help you get good results from your video project. Note that it is geared for product demonstrations and other in-house made videos; if you want serious marketing materials, hire a production company. For our purposes, we’ll talk about planning, scripting, and producing your video.
The more you plan ahead, the easier the rest will be. If you plan carefully, you’ll be able to drop most of the information right into your script, production will go smoothly, and revisions will be limited. Be sure to engage your stakeholders at every step to ensure agreement. It may save rework later. But be prepared for input after it’s all done anyway. It’s hard for people to envision the final product based on what they read on paper. So have patience!
Determine your audience
- Who are they?
- What do you want them to get from this?
- What do they already know?
- What is your relationship with them? I.e., are they customers or are you in a position of authority?
- What is the best way to reach them?
- Is the message instructional or for entertainment?
- Is this a visually compelling topic? Is a video really the way to go?
Plan the message
- Outline copy points.
- What is visual about the message? What would you show? Consider rough storyboarding before you begin.
- Prepare answers the basic questions: who, what, where, when, how, and why. You must have this clear in your mind before you proceed:
- Who are you to them?
- What is this about?
- Where is it applicable (scope)?
- When is it applicable?
- How do you plan to resolve/approach the issue?
- Why is this necessary?
- Keep your video down to 3-5 minutes. Any longer is too long to hold your audience’s attention. If you need more time, break your topic down into sub-topics and make a series of videos.
Decide where this will be accessed/published
Think about how you will drive your audience to it.
By the way, almost all of this planning applies to any content regardless of format and channel, even consideration of helpful visuals.
Script development should be thought of as an extension of planning. If you did your planning well, the script should grow naturally. If you do your script well, production will go easier.
- Purpose of video.
- Describe what you will be covering in the video.
- Should have the who, what, where, when, how, and why of the video as a whole.
- Make sections that are clearly delineated and introduce each section.
- These sections should mirror points listed in introduction.
- Script to ensure that audio/narration and video coincide.
- Every section should also have the who, what, where, when, how, and why. Or at least think about each of these to determine which parts are appropriate.
- Describe what is expected next and from whom.
- Indicate where to go for more information.
You guessed it: Being thorough in planning and scripting is the key to smooth production. Of course. But now, they key is patience. Production can be tedious. The best thing to do is take the time to assemble all components and get organized. Approach this in a methodical way. Be prepared for surprises and allow time for correction. At the same time, be flexible. If you get into it and decide it would be better to say something a different way, or to emphasize something differently, don’t be afraid to amend your script and continue accordingly.
- Pick a production tool you can understand. Research this.
- Build graphics.
- Capture visuals:
- Make sure image size and resolution will work for final output. Do a test. 1024 × 768 is a good size, but do a whole video with a couple visuals and produce it to see.
- Plan ahead for zooming in and make sure your tool does as expected.
- For live action, consider a better video camera than your phone.
- Make sure your visuals match your scripted narration. Do this to the point that you’re showing, even pointing to, content as you say the words that describe it. Practice narration while you capture/shoot so you can make it match. Plan to edit components to match even better when you lay down the real audio track.
- Lay down visual elements along with voice narration:
- Work in small sections; this will help make narration and visuals match.
- If you’re not working in a studio, capture voice narration with a headset in a room with lots of carpeting and curtains.
- Test your input volume against the final output.
- To avoid popping speech, speak across your mic instead of into it.
- Practice breathing before starting the mic.
- You may need to plan ahead for space around clips for transitions (e.g., fades take longer than cuts).
- Make sure pace and tone are relaxed but not tedious.
- Add music and effects.
- Review carefully for bad edits, etc.
- Produce in the right format (Flash, Windows Media Player, etc.) for your publication channel.
- Test links to publication to make sure everything runs as planned.
Good luck with your video! And if you want some help, feel free to contact me.
About the Author
Sheila McBride is Principal Consultant at The Write Team, Inc.