Are you looking for any easy way to explain how to do professional (i.e., business-quality) online video to newcomers? I recommend sharing these 5 steps in the following order: Plan, practice, publish, promote and perform. In this post, I will explain how each of these 5 P's is essential to virtually any professional online video project.
Overview of the 5 P's - The Sesame Street Rule
Recently when I was speaking at the Search Engine Strategies conference in downtown Chicago, I was getting ready to do an on-camera interview with Web Marketing Today's Dr. Ralph Wilson. (You can watch my previous interview with Dr. Wilson done back in February.) He explained to me that much of his audience were relative newbies to online video marketing, and so what he needed from me was to share a tip or two that most anyone could digest.
That's when it hit me: If you want an easy way for people to remember a complex subject like online video, do what I call the "Sesame Street Rule" – include a single number and letter in your presentation. Right on the spot with just minutes to my air time, I put together this list of 5 P's of what to remember if you're doing, or considering doing, professional-quality online video. (And by "professional”, we can either be talking about video for a business use, an actual objective you want to accomplish; or a clear educational, informational or promotional benefit for someone other than just yourself.)
I came up with these 5 P's from my own years of professional experience in online video project management for my own business and clients, so I can testify that each one of these P's will be essential for your own professional needs.
Here are some tips I've gathered for each of them:
Too often I find that people start a video project without clearly defining what they're trying to accomplish. This is especially disastrous if you're working with others on your video project, and you haven't communicated every aspect of your project in advance. Here are some questions to be asking yourself – and have answers ready to share with others in your project – before you start shooting anything:
- What are your goals?
- Who is your audience?
- What is your theme?
- What topics will you cover?
- What equipment are you going to use?
- Who will be performing?
- Where will you be shooting?
- How many shows?
- How often will they appear?
- How long will they be?
- Where will you be found?
- What do you expect your audience to do?
- What is your budget?
- When do you need to get the freakin' thing done?
These are all things that, given the chance, should be written or typed out before you actually start doing any show with anyone. For my own interview on Web Marketing Today, in just 5 minutes I wrote out my theme for what I was going to share on camera, and my key talking points.
Planning also involves having a backup plan. At the SES Chicago conference, I always bring with me my own portable camcorder, just in case there's an opportunity for any good footage and interviews; and also in case my videographer doesn't show up or has problems of their own. I've even done segments using a regular webcam, which was better than nothing and sometimes our audience couldn't really tell much of a difference. Better planning means better content, and better content with even barely adequate video equipment is still better than having great equipment and not planning your content well.
I've watched a lot of people who haven't had much experience on camera try to do a shoot, and continually flub, and then see them get frustrated and want to give up. I find it's what stops so many people from getting into online video because they've already psyched themselves out. They feel scared that they'll do a terrible job, and have convinced themselves that everyone will see what a terrible job they did when its online; and then they've lost control of what they were trying to accomplish.
Yet for anyone that's new to online video, be they behind the camera or in front of it, learning requires a certain amount of trial and error. By practicing and reviewing what you do, you learn from your mistakes and can correct them before publishing anything. Online video doesn't have to be intimidating when you realize that you have all the control to make things right, when you allow yourself to practice. The more you practice doing online video, the better you'll get.
Here are some things to practice when you're rehearsing on camera (or coaching someone else who is):
- Pace yourself. See if you speak to fast or too slow at certain points, or throughout the entire piece. Make sure to allow yourself to pause for emphasis, or just to catch your breadth. Don't make it a race to cram a bunch of information in the shortest amount of time, or have uncomfortably long pauses that break the tempo. Its much more important to speak at an even pace with less information, than having more information that people are going to be less likely to remember any of it because they couldn't keep up with you.
- Enunciate. Are all of your words clear to understand? If you can't tell, your audience certainly won't be able to. Allow yourself to slow down just a bit when enunciating those hard-to-understand words.
- Emphasize. Are you making the right emphasis on key words or phrases that are the high points of your message? Sometimes these are the places you can slightly raise your voice, or even have a slight pause with an important keyword or point you're making.
- Eye contact. Are you remembering to maintain eye contact with the camera on you? You want to look directly into the camera often enough to connect with your viewers, but not so much that they feel they're in a staring contest with you.
- Control your body language. Are you appearing stiff, or moving your hands and body around so much that it's distracting to viewers? Its not just what's coming out of your mouth that's giving the performance – the rest of the body serves like a symphony conductor. Learn to use your hands or parts of your body in controlled manners that relate to the strength of the point (or a key word) that you're making.
- Length. This is my own biggest problem – talking too long! (Yes, my editor knows that all too well.) Remember that for online video, the shorter piece is often the more effective one. Don't think that it takes a long video to impress people and show them how smart you think are or how good you think look – more likely they'll think you're long-winded. Shortening the message has more impact, makes your message and performance easier to remember and absorb, and makes your audience feel smarter about it.
Do you need a script? Not at all. Remember online video is largely about storytelling and appearing to be having a real conversation with your audience. You need to come across as natural, not sales-y.
But what if you need help remembering any talking points? Then you can have them in front of you and just practice talking off-the-cuff. If you find that you still need your monologue or dialogue fleshed out, then do this: Write out a description for each point, but nothing too much that you can't memorize in front of a camera. Otherwise you'll find yourself looking down or away from the camera and at your notes, which never looks good. (OK, you can have carefully positioned cue cards by the camera if you really still need help, but again – just easy sentences you can remember and expand on – NO SCRIPT!)
Screw you, Grant – I want to read from a script. OK then, fine… If you really feel like you want to practice reading a script, then go ahead – but keep the language "loose" and not feel like you have to read it aloud, word-for-word. Allow yourself to go with what the moment compels you to say. That's even true if you're just doing a 30-second spot.
But I'm an experienced speaker, I don't need to practice to be on camera! WRONG. I've shot experienced salespeople who certainly could talk great… when a camera wasn't on them. But when they were aware of a camera being on them, they often would insist that they had to read from their cue cards, which then they would completely flub up and be prone to swearing fits. Here's what I find works for those who've been set too much in their old ways: I tell them to do a couple of practice runs without the camera while they read from their script, so they feel like there's no pressure in rehearsing. Then after I do a few on-camera takes with their script, I have them do a few takes without any script – even riff – and then compare that with they rehearsed. I may even just engage them in a conversation and leave the camera rolling, and often that can be the best take!
Time to be your own critic. After you have made your practice clips – watch yourself, and have others watch you. This is where you need to allow yourself and others to be honest critics of your work. Find people in your immediate business circle or social circle watch your video and ask them to comment on it. When you gather their feedback, its all staring in you in the face of what you've learned from your "control" audience, you'll have an opportunity to make adjustments before you have it ready for the "full" audience. (For my own video projects, I find Wistia to be very good for showcasing video to people and gathering their comments, and even using a video heat map with larger test audiences.)
Practice the live shoot. I also find that practicing your performance of recorded online video also better prepares you for any live video shoots you may have to do. When I'm at conferences, I sometimes find myself put right on the spot to either give an interview on camera or think of some questions at the top of my head. What I find works for me is this: Before the cameras start rolling, do several test runs in your head – actually visualize what you're going to say and visualize what the picture will look like on camera. That way you're "virtually practicing" in your head. (Which probably explains why I talk to myself too much – something both my editor and my girlfriend comment about ;)
Online video marketing tends to work much better when you to put out regular videos with some consistency. I usually recommend producing a bunch of shows in a single shoot period, and publishing them individually per a consistent time interval. That way you allow time for an audience to build and anticipate what's going to come next, and thus stay tuned to your video channel. Here are some professional online video publishing tips to follow:
- Do "hosted" online video publishing. Self-hosting the videos on your website or blog – i.e., having them embedded right on your branded site's web page and play within the page – keeps people around your brand much better than on a shared video site like YouTube, and can be much more effective with achieving business goals. If you have a lot of videos to manage, seriously consider using an online video platform solution. (ReelSEO has a ton of reviews on many online video platforms available for businesses with all scopes and budgets.) Also remember to do a Google video sitemap, so you can have Google index your videos into its blended, or "universal" search results. (Doesn't anybody just say "web search results" anymore??)
- Do "distributed" online video publishing. If you need to reach a large audience and want to increase your likelihood of having your video appear in search results, then publish your video to key video sharing sites – and not just YouTube. There are special video sites that carry some professional-quality features that you might find work better for you than YouTube, such as Blip.TV or Vimeo. There are also themed video sites, like how-to videos or professional/industry tips (such as eHow.com and wonderhowto.com, just to name a couple). Make sure to place your videos in the proper categories your video would fall under so your video will be more findable. TubeMogul is a good great resource for batching your submissions to multiple video sharing sites.
I'll be a pest and say it again: When it comes to publishing, I can't stress this enough – consistency is key! Successful professional online video is not about doing one-and-out – it's about regularity. That's how you build and maintain (and further build) an audience.
Here are some general steps to having your video found in the search engines, distributed by others, and generating targeted traffic and "buzz" for yourself.
- Make your videos "sharing-friendly.” Make sure the video player allows people to share the video, link to the video, email the video to others, and take a snippet of code that they can copy-paste and play on their own site if they want to.
- Do Video Search Optimization. Optimize the page content your videos are on. For YouTube, this would be the title, description, and "tags”, and a hyperlink inside the description, and other related videos in playlists you can set up in your YouTube channel. For your website, this includes building a video library and a website category just for videos, where you have keyword rich-copy around your video, title tags, meta descriptions, regular tags, header tags, and cross-linking on the page to other videos.
- Encourage audience participation. Mention your videos on social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and in Twitter. You also want to encourage your audience to comment on your videos and dialogue with you on them. This is why blogs such as WordPress are an excellent means for both publishing and promoting your videos on your own site. Comment on other blogs or social networking forums on topics or discussions that relate to your own (relevant) video, and include a URL to the video on your own site.
- Do news releases. I also recommend sending out a news release on one of the online PR Services. PRWeb.com is just one of them where you can actually embed your video right in the news release, which gets picked up almost immediately in the search engines.
- Send out Email – If you have an opt-in email database and email marketing program, let people on your subscription list learn about what videos you have recently launched. Some email programs claim to allow for embedded video that doesn't get caught up in spam filters, but I still recommend just including a graphic image of your video and a link people can click to watch on it on your own site.
- Let people subscribe to your videos. Blogs are based on RSS feeds that people can subscribe to when you have updates. Media RSS feeds (MRSS) are specifically suited for subscribing to feeds of online video. Make sure to create an MRSS feed specifically just for your video content.
You're not done yet! You still need to measure what's working and what isn't, so you know what you can be doing more of.
Check out your Web analytics – when it comes to free tools, Google Analytics does have some basic features. In YouTube's Insight feature, you can find out the level of interest in any of your videos during their duration, such has when people drop off, and when people become more interested, while the video is playing. There are also specialty web analytics that can give you charts of data on the durations of a video that people watch on average, where they come from and what they're doing before they play the video, and what they do afterwords.
But the best metrics is actual feedback! Unless you're only goal with video is to reach the largest audience possible, I find that measuring levels of audience engagement for a video can be a much better performance metric than the amount of traffic to it. Performance metrics for professional online video speaks much more about what do people do while the video is watched and after its been watched, instead of just the initial click on the video to watch it.
To help with measuring your video's performance towards your professional objectives, I recommend including a clear call-to-action for your audience (i.e., what you want your audience to do next) either on the page of the video or the video itself.
The 5 P's – simple, easy to remember and follow
There's so much more on the 5 P's than even what a single article (albeit a loooonnnng one) can provide. But remember we're talking about what to always keep in your noggin' when talking about, and doing, professional online video. When you can make a highly complex subject like professional online video easy for any audience (especially newbies) easy enough to follow, it will make your job a lot easier working with them, and make you own videos a lot better.
And should you still need some extra help remembering your 5 P's with professional online video, watch these videos below… which I admit serve have nothing whatsoever to actually do with professional video, but can at least entertain you with the subject material and perhaps leave you slightly traumatized ;)