A few things that bad corporate videos have in common
Sometimes you've commissioned a video, everything seems fine on paper and it's got all the elements you asked for – but it's just not quite right. You can't put your finger on it. We've watched many an underwhelming business video at LCB, and here are what we've found to be the most regularly overlooked elements:
1. No feeling
Video's big strength is that it can evoke emotion. Bad corporate videos generally focus on information and neglect this powerful aspect. Either that or the feeling is confused and ambiguous. Feelings should be part of your planning for a video. What feeling should you evoke? Whatever feeling is most likely to make your audience pay attention and do what you want them to do. This might be negative (e.g. fear) or positive (e.g. inspiration).
2. Too long
Detail in most videos is not an asset but a liability. Usually corporate videos don't need to say everything because there is another place the viewer can seek more information (e.g. website). The better use of video is to give basic information and strong feeling (excitement, curiosity, etc.) that drives them to seek more information. And with that goal, less is more. It is much better to leave people wanting more than to test their patience.
3. Weak script
Inexperienced people write scripts that look a bit like an essay, with long blocks of text. In fact, video scripts should look more like a poem, with fewer words and lots of white space and line breaks indicating the rhythm of the video. Reuben could write a whole book about different ways a script can be bad, but one simple solution can help you solve most of them: SPEAK IT, don't just read it. Perform the script into a voice recording app on your phone and then listen back to it. If it is too long, too wordy, too vague, too cheesy, you will hear it. Then you can fix it.
4. Weak performances
Speaking well on camera is a strange, mysterious art. Bad performances have one big cause – people being uncomfortable – with two different variations.
Firstly people can be uncomfortable with the script because it doesn't sound like their natural manner of speech (often without realising it); avoid this by writing more natural scripts but also by stopping mid-shoot if necessary and saying "You know what, sorry but this sounds artificial. Let's change it".
The second reason people can be uncomfortable is simply being in front of the camera is stressful because you are in the spotlight (the same reason public speaking is stressful). This stress makes people try to put on a "better self", trying too hard and do too much. The audience sees right through this and calls it "stilted" and "fake". To avoid this (a) decrease people's stress levels by lightening the mood and giving gentle encouragement, (b) tell them to act "bored" or "no big deal" (they won't actually sound bored, they'll just realise how over-the-top they had been and come back down to earth), and (c) play back some footage for them so they can see flaws in their own performance and adjust accordingly.
If you're looking to make better corporate videos, we'd love to help you.