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Videos are like people; first impressions really count and you need to earn your audience’s attention from the start. Dan Gable, founder and CEO of ShoutOut, shares his do's and don'ts when producing attention grabbing videos for your business.

The first few seconds of a video are the most important. You need to create some kind of intrigue. You need to get your audience to be asking themselves something. Who’s that? What’s happening? What does that mean? What is going to happen next? What are they doing? What am I watching?

This is called a pattern interrupt and it’s a hypnotic technique, to make people say, “wait what?” and used correctly it can be the advantage needed against your competitors for your business.

Let’s look at some top ways you can make your video stand out for your business:

Work backwards

With video always work backwards and ask yourself the classic question. What do you want people to think, feel or do when they have finished watching your video?

This is a really important question and if you don’t have an answer then don’t make a video. Remember, a video has the sole job of impacting a viewer in some way. 

For example, you want people to know that you are experts in your industry field and to go to your website to find out more. You want them to know that you have a real passion for customer service and welfare of their staff and want them to feel like you are the kind of company they can do business with.

Working backwards is key here in order to achieve the above and keep clarity and direction to your video. Your audience should always finish watching your video with clear key takeaways they can action.

Story Story Story

Next is story. Now you have their attention you had better give them something of value or they are gone, and quickly. So much has been said about the ’story’ but it is often misunderstood. For most online videos what it means is having a cohesive narrative that makes sense and is really simple to understand. We all like to feel we have learnt something or have consumed information we understand. The message must be simple.

Years ago, people used to advise others to make three simple points in a PowerPoint presentation because more than that can result in boring your audience with ‘death by PowerPoint’. It’s the same with video.

If you have an interview on a video it should not be like a normal conversation. It needs to be really short and really clear, with as few words as possible. If you are making a testimonial video then ‘who they are, what they do, what problem did they solve with your product or service and how life or business is now better' is a good rule of thumb to follow.

Think about what you want to say, then break it down to its component parts to create a clear ’story’. Don’t be fooled, this is not as easy as it sounds. Your video needs to make sense with nothing missing. Ideally, cut it down until you can’t cut any more without it not making sense. The COVID-19 slogan ‘Hands Face Space’ is a complete story and it certainly could not get any shorter. Of course, it is great to add some drama, excitement, and production value, but you must get your story right first.

My advice would be to spend time getting your story right before you even touch a camera. It’s the most important part of video making. It’s the same with all media from journalism to feature films.

The power of emotion

So, you have your intro and your story. Now comes authenticity and feeling. Does the story make you feel something? Is it emotive? 

Going back to the testimonial video example, when someone talks about how the business is better after using your product or service, do you feel that it has really changed things?

For example, ‘we used product x and it saved us some money’, OR ‘we used product x and the cost savings enabled us to finally pay off our loans and for the first time be debt free’. Big difference, right?

If you are interviewing a customer for a testimonial video, really get them thinking about the positive impact it has had for them. What they say is sometimes less important than how they say it.

Video length

Lastly, video length. Keep it as short as you possibly can. Two minutes is good, but 40 seconds is better if possible. You can spend weeks writing a two-and-a-half-minute video, but to keep people’s attention for that long online it needs to be good. For most people keep it to under a minute if you can. That way you don’t need an expensive production, you can even do it cheaply on a phone. 

By following the above steps you’ll be well on your way to creating successful and authentic branded content for your business. And remember, story and emotional connection is always more important than production value.

Dan Gable is the founder of ShoutOut, the ground-breaking automated video creation and distribution platform. ShoutOut enables you to create branded videos and distribute them to your social media channels in just one click. 

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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