Now that mobile phones, cheap video cameras and Webcams have hit the mainstream, many of the product review videos of today feel like over-long lectures on the intricacies of tax code. These videos lack focus, ramble on for too long, and have less visual flair than a taped city council meeting.
Thankfully, as a product reviewer, there are plenty of ways you can avoid boring your audience, drawing harsh criticism, and falling into the bad review trap. If you're an affiliate marketer - or simply like voicing your opinion on stuff or sale - follow these five tips on creating great video product reviews that wow:
1. Exceed three minutes at your own peril.
Your audience would like to watch a review of the product not study for a doctoral thesis, so keep the review short and to the point. If you find that you're running over three minutes it's time to apply some judicious editing.
There's a reason why pop songs and television commercial breaks rarely go over three minutes: without a complex storyline it's difficult to keep people's attention riveted for much longer than that before they start wandering off.
2. Focus on the product & discuss it equitably.
The review should focus specifically on the product itself, not on the reviewer. Although injecting a modicum of personal opinion on the various features can help humanize your review and bring depth to your descriptions, nobody wants to sit and watch you ramble on for three minutes about you, you, and you.
The opinions you express should be as balanced and honest as possible. No product is completely polarized, so there are endless shades of gray to be described no matter what you're reviewing. Your viewers don't want to see you infatuated and fawning, but they also don't want to watch a bash and trash session. You are reviewing a product's qualities and failings, you're not trying to impress your audience with how clever, grumpy, or nasty you can be.
3. Concentrate on the primary features & what they do.
You only have a couple of minutes so don't think that you have to run down the entire specification sheet. Pick out a few features which make this product unique or provide some level of distinctiveness over the competition, and elucidate incisively on those.
The iWidget 5000 may have a newly redesigned off button, but is that as relevant to your audience as the truly salient features which are the driving force behind people actually wanting to buy one? Shift the focus away from a dry recitation of facts and figures and onto what those features do to make the user's tasks easier or more fun.
4. Riff your script, don't give a valedictorian speech.
Even the most animated speakers turn into automatons when reading from a script, so unless you're a graduate of a Stanislavski or Strasberg method acting school, don't try to read out your review. In order to keep on track, make a list of the key talking points and an approximation of when you want to get to the next one.
Creating a point form "shooting script" complete with timings will help keep you from running too long or too short. Then you can ad-lib your way through your review while sounding naturally conversational. Consider the best review voice-overs to be restrained jazz: you're encouraged to riff but keep it somewhat close to the melody line.
5. Use quick, clean edits & lots of them.
If you've gone more than a few seconds without a cut, you're dragging it out too much. Editing is a fine art which takes years to master, but a good rule of thumb is that three seconds is about the most you should keep a static image on a screen.
Straight cuts are almost always preferable to fancy crossfades, irises, or the rest of the gimmicks in your editing software. Don't try to use camera action as a substitute for cutting unless you have a $5,000 steadycam rig. Even the smoothest free hand movements will make a pan or tilt seem shaky.
Following these guidelines may not get you any closer to that elusive Academy Award nomination, but remember that good video reviews can bring in both money and positive attention. Do things right, plan things out and strive to entertain as well as inform, and you'll not just win over your viewers, but avoid getting hammered by negative comments.