To Make a Successful Video, Don’t Underestimate Your Audience

Meryl Ayres


Adam Lisagor, founder of Sandwich Video, has been described as the “director of choice among Silicon Valley startups looking to gain visibility” by Bloomberg Business, and his impressive client list includes Facebook, Square, Airbnb, and Slack.

We’re over the moon that Adam will be joining us at WistiaFest this year, and for those of you attending, you’re in for a real treat — like a warm Rice Krispie treat, but better. Beyond gracing our main stage, Adam will be leading a breakout session, in which he’ll critique business videos made by attendees, and teach us all some tricks of the trade. You (yes, you!) can throw your hat into the ring by submitting your video for Adam’s perusal.

If you’re not coming to WistiaFest, never fear. Adam will teach you a thing or two about connecting with your audience in this here blog post. Take it away, Adam!

“Don’t talk down to your audience, talk with them” is a common piece of advice for public speakers. It’s actually very important for making an effective video as well.

Don’t underestimate your audience’s intelligence. This translates to the words you use, your tone of voice, and of course, the actual content of your video.


Let’s start with the words you use. Think about your audience, and the lexicon that’s best suited for them.

If you just use a bunch of jargon to try and connect with an audience, that’s when you might lose them, because it feels too academic. In the videos we create at Sandwich, we prefer to err on the side of simpler language, while raising up more complex ideas.

The same goes for humor. I prefer to go for smarter humor, and I don’t assume that people aren’t going to get the joke. A joke is just a different package for information. A good joke can be even better than simple language at delivering information. You just have to trust that your audience will make the connections that need to be made.

“I prefer to go for smarter humor, and I don’t assume that people aren’t going to get the joke.”

Personally, I love weird jokes. I’m willing to risk that some people might not get the joke, because the ones that do will be that much more engaged and connected.


Never talk down to the viewers, when you can bring them _up_ to your level.

Everyone has had at least one good teacher, who taught with a particular style and tone of voice. You could probably define it more by what it’s not: not condescending, not overly technical or clinical, and not emotionally detached. Not disingenuous or salesy or pitchy.

Source: Comedy Central

Everyone can agree that these are the ways people don’t want to be given information, but somehow when it comes to creating marketing materials, this often gets lost.


It’s natural to want to over-explain your product to your audience. We sometimes get clients that try to squeeze all the features of their product into one video, or want to explain the problem they’re solving in such detail that it seems overly complicated.

Content overload is a common problem for your viewers. Based on our experience, if you try to give people too much information, they retain none of it.


I prefer to look at it this way: You shouldn’t have to explain every detail of a problem if it’s truly a universal problem. Just remind them of the feeling, and they’ll get themselves the rest of the way there. Similarly, show how the product feels to use, not every detail of how the product works.

“You shouldn’t have to explain every detail of a problem if it’s truly a universal problem.”

Notarize is one of my favorite examples where we give our audience credit for their intelligence and humor in a creative way.

Notarize is an incredibly smart solution for getting important documents notarized, which is usually a real pain. In our video for Notarize, we dove into the ingenuity of the mechanics of the product, which works by taking advantage of a unique loophole in the law (the state of Virginia allows for electronic notarization).

This makes the user more of a participant in the creation of the solution, and they get to enjoy that feeling of gaming the system alongside the company itself. They’re more invested, and therefore more excited to try the product themselves.

Ultimately, it all boils down to respecting an audience’s base of knowledge. If you can assume an audience knows a bunch of different pieces of information, and then you give them some new pieces of information, they can draw their own conclusions. You don’t have to tell them all the answers. That’s the simplest level of respect for their intelligence.

Meryl Ayres


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