Communicating Better with Internal Video

Meryl Ayres


Most companies spend a lot of time focusing on outward-facing videos, which makes perfect sense. They’re kind of a big deal, and those are the videos we see examples of every day. But right now, we’d like to take a moment to recognize internal videos — videos produced exclusively for your colleagues.

Given the smaller, more forgiving audience, internal videos are ideal for experimentation, but they can also scale communication, improve onboarding processes, and document company culture and history.

Recently, we’ve had people from all different teams experimenting with internal videos in new ways. We thought we’d gather their thoughts during the beginning stages of their journeys, while they’re still learning and adapting.

Laura’s weekly video updates

Laura works in operations. Each Monday morning, she sends the whole team video updates via email, informing us about everything from new hires to birthday parties.

Over time, she has reduced the length of her videos, begun incorporating some fun images, and even dabbled in background music. More recently, she began including a TL;DW (too long; didn’t watch) list of the most important items featured in the video.

Why did you decide to start making video updates?

“I was trying to come up with a more efficient way to disseminate information to the team without having to send multiple emails over the course of the week. So, I set the bar really low for myself: make one video a week. After I did the first one, I figured I was also accountable to the team to keep making them. I then had the structure to actually motivate myself to follow through with it.”

What are the largest hurdles?

"I worry about keeping it funny or engaging enough that people still want to watch every Monday morning. But I also overthink it. As in, I think all the time - Oh, I should film it on a GoPro while I’m driving, or get strangers at Wegmans to read lines from the script, etc. But I also try to keep it simple because it’s 120 seconds or less. Best/hardest part: the possibilities are endless."

What does your production process entail?

“On Sunday night, I look at the calendar for the week and write the script and edit the email campaign. On Monday morning, once I’m decently caffeinated, I shoot on PhotoBooth or my iPhone (more recently Photo Booth, because my phone has little storage, and in Photo Booth I can just drag the clips to iMovie and edit them).”

"I do 3–4 takes, chop it all up, put it together, and most times add music. After I upload it to Wistia and change the thumbnail (because who doesn’t love a good thumbnail?) I embed it into the MailChimp campaign (yay, MailChimp!) and send it out. That’s everything."

Olivier’s cinematic tutorials

Olivier is a customer champion. Inspired by his passions for film and software, he has created some whimsical videos that explain different pieces of the Wistia application’s architecture.

In the first few weeks at Wistia, every new employee hears a technical talk about the “Architecture of Wistia.” If it sounds intimidating, well… it kind of is. But in a really great way. Olivier’s videos take this talk and break it down into small, easily digestible snacks that employees, especially non-engineers, can go back to if they need a refresher. Full disclosure: I’ve watched these videos multiple times for educational (and enjoyment) purposes.

What prompted you to make your first tutorial video?

“It was linked to a larger question I was asking myself: ’What role could we, Customer Champions, play in the grand theater of video at Wistia?’ We have a unique perspective on our customer base and on our internal processes, so it only seemed logical to start experimenting with video.”

“Also, I went to film school years ago, and I felt like my filmmaking skills were getting rusty. It’s like language, in that way — if you don’t practice, you end up losing it.”

What have been the largest challenges?

“The second video I made was far more technically challenging than the first. I wanted to deliver information about our back-end, but I also wanted it to have a narrative hook — it needed to feel like a short film. Naturally, I opted for more challenging shot setups, like dolly shots, which only made things trickier.”

“Also, working with humans is hard. Everyone involved was a great sport, but the process just underlined how important communication skills are on a set.”

“For my next video, I think I’ll definitely script it and pare it down before starting to shoot. Ben was so good at improvising that he didn’t really need it, but I think the final product could have been stronger if the process had been a bit more structured.”

What were the benefits of producing this for an internal audience?

“I really see these first two videos as warm-ups, where I figure out exactly how to convey information most clearly while keeping everyone interested. Having an internal audience was a great way to get feedback and try wackier things.”

Trevor’s time capsules

Trevor is on the video team at Wistia. Besides the polished outward-facing videos that he helps create for our website, he regularly documents company events and milestones.

It’s important to note that multiple people often pitch in at our company events to gather footage. This way, the responsibility is distributed, and no one person has to spend their entire time worrying about capturing everything.

As a company evolves, it’s both interesting and informative to reflect upon the past. Old videos can offer perspective and help give new hires a better sense of the company’s background and culture. Plus, they’re just super fun to watch.

Why did you decide to make a video about building the styrodome?

“The choice for shooting a ground up building process was two-fold. Once the video was complete, it was a great share internally and spread some good vibes among the team.”

“Also, documenting the design team’s experience meant that they could relive the creative process in the future — the hoisting, arranging, taping, and high-fiving is captured for posterity. So this was a big win to use this video for multiple purposes in the end (culture boost, experimentation, social).”

What were the hardest challenges?

“Knowing where to set up the cameras to capture the action was tricky. Since it was a timelapse, we only had one chance to set everything up and smoothly capture the action from beginning to end.”

“Once the construction began, The dome took about 3 to 5 hours to construct, so we also had to take into account that the lighting was going to change drastically. If you notice in the video, the shots change from light outside to dark. Knowing this, we tried to hide the edit of light to dark by using a close up shot as a transition.”

What were the greatest benefits that came out of this process?

“For the video team, this was one of the larger scale timelapses we attempted. When everything was set up, we had about 4 different cameras capturing the process.”

“As with any timelapse, there is immediate gratification in the editing process. Watching nothing become something in a matter of seconds is pretty much the coolest thing!”

"I shared it through our team HipChat and email so that everyone had a chance to see it right away! We also ended up tweeting it to our followers and including it in a Non Sequitur post, because it was a great opportunity to highlight our culture."

A worthwhile endeavor

Sometimes the “why” isn’t crystal clear when you set out to shoot video for your teammates. Projects evolve and take shape as you go, and chances are, you will discover new uses for your videos down the road! Not to mention the ability to experiment more openly is a fun learning experience.

So far, internal videos have helped us communicate more efficiently, improve the onboarding process, and document company milestones.

Does your company use video to communicate internally? What processes could be communicated better with video? What are the biggest obstacles you’ve faced while creating internal videos?

Meryl Ayres


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