Whether you’re selling, teaching or training, video is a powerful way to convey your message. However, it’s only effective when viewers are engaged, which makes the content you create that much more important. At Demo Duck, where we build demo videos every day, we’ve come up with some best practices for creating online video which I’ll share with you now.
1. Write a Script
A great video begins and ends with a compelling script. As a general rule of thumb, shorter is better. Try to keep your script between 30 and 60 seconds (approximately 75-150 words). For more insight on ideal video length, read Does length matter? It does for video!
The content should progress like a story. For a product demo, make sure to present the pain that your potential customers are experiencing that your product can cure. In some cases, it’s a good idea to use a real-life scenario or case study to help viewers relate to the problem you’re solving. Regardless of the purpose, make sure you always focus on the viewers and their needs. Help answer their question “What’s in it for me?”
Read your script aloud as you write. Reading aloud helps you compose a script that flows naturally and sounds personal. Using short sentences and simple language also helps. Always avoid industry jargon and technical terms which might not be familiar to the general public.
If you have the time, ask a friend to read it over (preferably someone who does not work with you). They should be able to easily understand it without the video or an explanation. If not, figure out what’s confusing and fix it.
2. Record the Voice Over
Once you have a peer-reviewed script ready to go, it’s time to record a voice over. If you can afford it, hire professional voice talent (trust me, it’s worth it!). You can find a wide range of voices starting around $200 at Voices.com.
If you’re on a budget or you prefer to do things in-house, try to purchase or borrow a quality microphone. It also helps to record in a quiet room with minimal echo. Beware - a poorly recorded voice over, like a grainy video image, can severely impact the perceived quality of your product or service.
For background music, make sure to use a licensed, royalty-free track. We typically find music at Audio Jungle or Premiumbeat. It can take a while to find a good track, but the prices are reasonable, starting around $15.
3. Edit the Video
The style of video you use depends on the type of video you’re creating. From a Flip Cam to stock video to screencasting, the creative options are limitless. Once you have footage to work with, you can use a tool like iMovie, ScreenFlow or Camtasia Studio to do the editing. Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects are powerful options, but are also significantly more expensive and complex.
As you’re editing, try to keep things simple. While it can be tempting to cram in as much content as possible, or to use fancy effects and transitions, the best videos usually have minimal distractions. For inspiration, browse some of the popular videos available on Vimeo or Startup Videos. Pay attention to the videos that hold your attention and try to emulate the same technique.
4. Test and Improve
Once your video is complete and online, don’t just sit back and wait. Use a tool like Wistia (see video analytics) to figure out where people are losing interest. You can try a split testing tool like Google Website Optimizer to test multiple video variations at once. Like any content, video can be tweaked and optimized to maximize engagement and conversions.
Now we want to hear from you! What methods or techniques do you use to create compelling video?