Shoot This - 5 Tips for Video

After many years in the wilderness of e-learning, with fear for its safety – video’s back, baby. It’s about as cheap and quick to produce as audio and can do a whole lot more. What can it do for you? A few points before you shoot…


1. Show, don’t tell

This is the first thing they tell you in screenwriter school (well, after they tell you that the odds of you being successful are less than zero, but will be closer to zero after you finish the course). Explaining things is far less engaging than showing them. Video is your new best friend here. Why go to the lengths of explaining how you want your sales team to explain the features and benefits of your product, when you can just show them doing this? We’ve recently worked with a client on some product knowledge modules. Rather than include some lengthy blather about the sales process, it’s got a series of secret shopper footage. The camerawork is shaky (as is industry standard in all hidden camera shows), but you get to see real salespeople dealing with customer questions. Some are great, some are not – and you learn plenty from both. Not much more effort and cost than developing text and graphics, and much more effective.


2. Don’t fret about quality

As with the shaky camerawork in the above, immediacy and authenticity are more important than finely crafted work – at least for most video. We’re all used to YouTube and mobile phone quality video, so our minds are generally forgiving of quality in video if the message is clear. The same’s not true for audio. The research shows we except more of audio quality (since it’s only one channel, whereas in video the picture can deliver information too of course). So don’t spend a lot on expensive equipment. The average DV camera will do fine.


3. Shoot your SME

(Not that we’d never shoot an SME. Sometimes we’re a little threatening if there are delays in projects, but it never goes further than a few late-night phone calls and hang-ups. But seriously…). We’ve talked before about the value of using audio to record an SME and get their expertise, passion and credibility up-front. Video takes it even further. What’s the point of talking heads? Well, get them to do more than just talk to camera. Can they be in discussion with someone else? Can they be commenting on a case study or example, or – depending on the subject – showing how something technical works, or modelling the behaviour you’re trying to build in? Get them to show and tell.


4. Bandwith shchmandwith: outsource to YouTube

Yes, there are still the IT hurdles to overcome. But there are some ways around that. What about putting your video on YouTube and just linking to it? Use their bandwidth, not your own. They won’t mind. We do this in many of the Moodles we design for clients and it’s a great way to lessen the blow for your IT Team.


5. Keep it real

You are not a Hollywood player. Unless of course you are, in which case you are looking great – we should have lunch sometime. For the rest of us, what we mean is your budgets are not going to extend to the overhead that a full-blown video production will usually require. So don’t get into the business of writing lengthy movie scripts that are going to require multiple locations, casting, and a whole load of amateur dramatics. Unless you’re working with large budgets, our tip for using video is to keep it real.