Getting ready for shoot with a new client, it occurred to me, not for the first time, that what we do in our profile videos and testimonials is not so far removed from portrait photography and, for that matter, from portrait painting. The tools and the media are different, but the goals are the same: to capture something unique and memorable and convey it to viewers.
Simple, right? Roll the camera, snap the shutter, draw the picture, nothing so difficult that millions and even billions of people are not able to execute it. Yet for all the portraits created, in drawings, photos, and now video, only a few are truly memorable.
Authenticity Trumps Polish
So how can you be sure you’re getting something your customer will remember and connect to? It starts with the concept. My client’s idea – to create video portraits of the engineers behind their ground-breaking technology – has everything going for it. Her engineers are not camera-trained; what they are is authentic, knowledgeable and passionate about what they do. They may not spit out polished marketing pearls, but that's actually better. Save your pearls for your taglines, mission statements, and marketing blurbs; this is not what video does best.
Online video viewers want information they can trust, and when a knowledgeable person shares their insights and their passion, video allows us to gauge that it's genuine.
Capture Shining Moments
In working with nonprofessional spokepersons, the trick is to get them speaking comfortably and embrace what’s authentic about them as individuals. If they are nervous by disposition, don’t fight it. Be prepared with questions in the subjects you know you want to cover. But keep it conversational. Listen closely and probe for the insights and revelations that will make the video memorable. If your subject feels she's being listened to she'll warm up and that intimacy will translate to the video audience.
In a 10-12 minute interview, you are looking for maybe 1-2 minutes that really shine. And an overall sense that your subject is speaking with conviction and conveying information that is new and of ongoing interest. In fact, that gut-level sense is even more important than the words, for when we watch a video, we're really moving back and forth between the words and a hundred other observations; the light, the look in the subject's eyes, and above all that sense that this person really believes what their saying. These are the moments we’ll save in editing and keep in the final cut of the video.