Some time last year I started investigating whether videos are a good mechanism for driving change on a project. Project stakeholders typically don’t read long documents and even if they do it’s usually a cursory glance at the pictures. Roadshows and presentations can be effective but I sometimes got the feeling that stakeholders begrudged the hour-long intrusion in their lives (especially when presence is enforced by a sponsor’s command). If the presentations are effective then there is the other problem of being asked to repeat them ad-nauseum to different parts of the functional organisation. This is fantastic but time-consuming and at some point you still have to get back to the actual work of the project delivery!
As a result of that investigation, in recent times I’ve been using short videos very successfully at one of Crossbolt’s clients. Here’s an example…
[Example pending client approval]
I was asked on at least four separate occasions today ‘how do you make those videos?‘ and this is intended to share some pointers to folks looking to explore using video as a project change or training mechanism.
(1) Create a light-bulb moment: My primary inspiration came from the folks at Epipheo (a play on the words ‘epiphany video’). In particular I learned that the thing that makes a video go viral – is the creation of the epiphany in the mind of the viewer as shown in the video example here.
If you can trigger a genuine ‘light-bulb moment’ about the subject matter, the viewer will want to share it thus taking care of your message distribution. People are more likely to watch something if their friends recommend it than from some chap they don’t know.
(2) Innovate – you don’t need a fancy animation studio: At a business meeting focused on a viral marketing venture, I was pointed to “In Plain English”, a second source of inspiration. Take a look at one of Commoncraft’s examples here and watch how efficiently a message can be delivered in a low-tech way. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is light work though!
(3) You don’t need a fancy camera: For now anyway, any camera will do. In order to ensure that LAN/internet streaming speeds are fast I tend to prefer files less than 200Mb. Just about any reasonable digital camera will do.
(4) You do need a tripod and good lighting: These two are fundamentally important. I try and find locations with good, abundant natural light. Do not attempt this without a tripod – nobody wants to watch a shaky video. Any tripod will do and I often shoot with the camera on a cheap mini tripod.
(5) You must have video editing software: You need to be able to edit sound, add background audio, clip video, order clips and still shots etc. Just shooting a video of a presentation and hoping that this will do the trick – that’s being optimistic (unless you’re a fabulous orator…). This also means that you need to know how to operate the software! Most tech-savvy folks will be rolling in a few hours.
(6) Videoing a whiteboard drawing is great: As we often use whiteboards to explain concepts, this mechanism translates very well into the video space.
It’s also has a more intimate interaction as it has a real person in the video (as opposed to animation techniques).Some tips:
- Whiteboard lighting is tricky. Get some tips here and invest the time before you shoot video.
- Make sure you mark the visible area on the camera on the whiteboard. You don’t want to shoot your video and then find out that you’ve strayed off the camera view (happens to everyone the first time…).
- Write the narrative in advance so that you know what you are going to draw and what message you intend getting across with the picture.
- Go through a few trial runs before shooting. Be aware of not blocking the whiteboard with your body as you draw (can be tricky)
- Speed up the video. It’s boring watching someone draw in real time. Keep this in mind when shooting as you can take more care and do decent drawings with several colors.
- Add the narrative afterward otherwise you’ll sound like a chipmunk when you speed up the video.
(7) Life is easier on a fast computer: Don’t let this be an obstacle to progress as it is optional. Manipulating video is processor and memory heavy and having a good machine means a whole lot less time sitting around watching the ‘hourglass’. I have a potent Quad Core iMac with a 27″ screen. I’ve been able to do effective videos on a 13″ business laptop too (with a bit more pain).
(8) Spend time with the audio track: More than half my time is consumed with narratives, background audio and sound effects. It makes all the difference.
(9) Don’t aim for perfection: The videos must be quick and easy to produce. If it’s good enough let it go glitches and all. This is a project tool not a commercial production! Interestingly an over-produced video becomes a barrier to entry for you doing more videos on the project as your stakeholders will expect that quality again (this is a hard lesson).
(10) Use a cheap trick to encourage viral distribution: This is easier said than done but we often try to inject some skit or aspect of the video that inspires a good laugh or shock. In the example that I had earlier in this blog it was the Simpsons sofa spoof at the end.
There you go – happy shooting!