You’ve been building your digital brand. Your website and social media sites steadily attract prospects—you’d like to convert more of them into clients. You’ve flirted with video, whether as an intro to your services, a sizzle reel showing you in action or to showcase your book or new line.
Before you take another step, consider these eight tips to rock the camera for your next video.
1. Have a vision. Know what you want to accomplish. A sizzle reel to promote your speaking gigs is quite different than a manifesto capturing your key opinions. You don’t have to be crystal clear on how it should look—your production team will collaborate with you on that—but know in your gut what you want it to do.
2. Write a script. If you’re writing it yourself, do it before talking to a single production company. It will force you to consider how this is going to work to build your brand and ensure you’re ready to go this route. Better still—hire a writer who has worked with you on other marketing. Chances are they understand your voice and can do a compelling script quickly and efficiently.
3. Choose your partners wisely. You are counting on a production team to turn your vision into reality. Look at samples of their work (make sure the director who did your favorites will be YOUR director). Does their shooting and editing style fit with yours? Talk to at least a couple of references. Ask about how they felt about the experience as well as the usual time/budget questions. If you’re not a natural in front of the camera (few of us are), you’ll need a director who will coax the real you to the screen.
4. Invest in a professional stylist. The best will ask pointed questions about your brand, your style and your video. For a few hundred bucks (or less), they’ll then go through your closet and pull 3-5 outfits that will work on camera, including accessories (scarves, neckties, jewelry, shoes). Or, they may take you shopping. Word to the wise: use someone accustomed to video. Not every choice that works for photography will work for moving images.
5. Primping matters. Don’t even think about dropping serious money for a video without hiring a hair/makeup artist. Men, you need it too. Not only will the right artist make you look and feel terrific as you start the shoot, they will fuss to make sure you continue to look exactly right. Talk to them well in advance about your vision and ensure they are willing to make you look like, well, you. The goal is to enhance your natural appeal on camera, not cover it up with over-the-top hair or makeup.
6. Learn your lines. The core of every shoot is going through the script as it is written. You’ll waste everyone’s time and your money if you don’t show up, ready to sizzle. Rehearse your lines—experiment. You can even record yourself and use that to modify your delivery. Finally, make yourself some cue cards (flip charts are great for that) and bring them with you to the set.
7. Put your sass on. Or your gravitas, or whatever your audience most values about you. Your performance—make no mistake, we’re talking performance here—must be real. Honest. The theatrical gestures you use when speaking to live audiences can be overwhelming on the small screen. Think intimate, smaller gestures. The hardest part for most of us? Getting out of our heads to use the rest of our bodies to make our points. Tip: this is where the right director is crucial. He/she will coach you out of your head and into your body.
8. Let go and be in the moment. Be obsessive about the preparation and who will do what. But once the shoot begins, the director is running the show. Trust him to get the best out of you and listen carefully to direction. Owning your message and believing how much your audience needs to hear it allows you to move beyond stage fright and into unforgettable territory.
Creating video worthy of your message (and being camera-ready) is not for the faint of heart. But with a little (obsessive) preparation and the right team, you can do this.