I receive many requests from companies, individuals and public sector organisations, to produce self-presented training and demonstration videos.
Combining the latest mobile production studio technology with unique techniques and workflow can yield fantastic, budget-defying results to take your media presence to the next level.
When it comes to corporate video, keeping things ‘in-house’ can also boost staff experience and confidence, add relevance and context and minimise costs. As with most tasks however, thorough preparation is the key to top-level results that will truly impress your clients, colleagues and management staff. If you’re going to attempt to create complex, adventurous production work, it simply has to be done well.
Scripting and rehearsal is an area often underestimated or even completely overlooked, by non-professional presenting staff. Those faced with the sometimes daunting task of presenting a corporate video are well-advised to respect the challenge that lay ahead. In this area, a little easy preparation goes a long, long way and you’ll thank yourself when the work is complete and you finally get to see the fruits of your labour.
Here are a few handy guidelines for staff preparing to present their own corporate videos, to help avoid some of the common pitfalls.
Departments should always collaborate on script writing issues. A common mistake is for an assigned team member to write everyone else’s script on their behalf. This isn’t such a great idea. We like to phrase things in our own way and when it comes to reading from an autocue we are easily confused by an unfamiliar combination of words. This is even more likely if the presenter has not rehearsed their script before the shoot.
A better approach is for the team’s assigned script writer to form only a basis for the final script, then supply a copy of that work to the presenters. It should of course be entirely accurate, including correct spellings, timings and good grammar. Presenting staff can then adapt or re-write the script to suit their own language and presenting style, being careful to retain all of the information supplied to them by the original writer.
With a well-written, refined and rehearsed script, your presenters are now well on their way to looking like real pros when faced with the pressures of a studio recording environment.
The next step is for presenters to absorb and connect with the content plenty of time before the shoot. ‘Plenty of time’ in my book, means at least a week or two before – not the day before, and certainly not hours before the shoot! If you’re thinking in minutes here, give up now – your going to find presenting a monumentally difficult task and are likely to sell yourself, and your company, short.
Firstly, read the script thoroughly, take a highlighter pen and mark any sections you do not understand fully. Research and re-word these sections so that you understand and engage with them completely.
Next, read the full script aloud a few times, from start to finish. Note any sections you slip-up on (especially consistent mistakes) and highlight them in your script. You should re-phrase or re-punctuate those sentences until pronunciation feels completely natural – delivering your script should be a comfortable experience.
Finally, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse again. The third time, use a mirror or get someone to film you on their phone. Be sure to also rehearse your pronunciation, reading speed, physical posture, tone of voice and facial expression. Connect with your content and connect physically with the camera lens, which in this case, is a direct portal to your audience.
Good professional actors and actresses do all of these things all the time; and that’s why they’re pros. Of course, none of this is rocket science – just thorough preparation and discipline. Almost everyone can achieve excellent results with good prep and practice.
An important note on logistics: Large companies and organisations often suffer from internal gatekeeping issues. Shared resources aren’t always organised well or fairly. Though this is a common barrier in any company, don’t let logistics get in the way of the production process. The filming process requires a very large amount of work within a limited timeframe and there is very little margin for error; especially error that leads to delays.
If your department has reserved a room in which to rehearse or shoot the film, ensure that there are absolutely no time restrictions, unwanted surprises or excuses on the day; “sorry, you can’t have this room today, it’s quadruple-booked…”, “no-one told me this was happening today…” or other common hurdles.
Avoid excessive noise in the corridors surrounding the filming area. Circulate an advance internal bulletin informing staff of the filming process and requesting them to remain extremely quiet when nearby, above or below the ‘studio’. Distant laughing, chair-moving or foot-thumping sounds will destroy the illusion of your pristine virtual studio effect and this is an issue very easily avoided with some advance planning.