6 great ways to make videos engaging

Avoid video ‘click-aways.’ Here’s how to capture—and keep—viewer attention.

It’s not easy to create engaging videos.

That’s why many corporate YouTube channels are video graveyards of talking-head interviews, boring product demos and leftover B-roll.

With the appetite for video exploding, here are six easy ways to add new life to your video program with more entertaining and share-worthy clips:

1. Don’t skip the script. “A common mistake is just hitting ‘record’ in the hope that you’ll capture something ‘authentic,'” says Brian Malone, founder of Chicago-based Malone Media, “but the truth is you must draft your narrative before you ever call your first shot if you want to hit emotional hot buttons.”

Videos that evoke interest, surprise, happiness, delight, pleasure, joy, hope, affection and excitement are the most likely to be viewed and shared, according to a study by digital marketing agency Frac.tl.

Infuse your script with these hot buttons, but don’t overthink it. “Just write something down,” says Guy Bauer, another Chicago-based videographer. “Don’t wait for the perfect idea before you start writing. Let your brain dump the worst stuff ever onto the page. Then go back and revise later.”

Register for PR Daily’s April 13 “Modern Video Workflow ” webinar for more tips from video production expert Brian Malone, whose clients include Facebook.

2. Eschew funny. “We often find that people are laughing about just being on camera or making a video,” says Malone. “Don’t get lost in the in-joke.”

Ask yourself if a stranger would find your sense of humor as funny or interesting as you do. “Be honest with yourself,” he says. “If the answer is no, then rethink your video effort.”

3. Spotlight personalities. “Cast some ‘characters,'” Malone says. “I don’t mean wookies or minions. I mean, find that person in your office who has that effervescent charisma. Don’t just pick the person who looks best on screen.”

If you’re working with CEOs or even CFOs, “Talk to them about their pets and families,” he says. “Discover their real personalities and use that to construct your narrative. It’s your duty to make your subject a star—even if it’s for a quarterly earnings video.”

Bauer issues a caveat. “Don’t make people act,” he says. “Having an exec read a teleprompter leads to very low-quality video, because it kills their personality.”

4. Let there be light. “Get some inexpensive LED lights, and light up your subject,” Malone advises. “I’ve seen countless videos where people skip this simple step, and they look horrible. Remember that it’s ‘Lights, Camera and Action.’ Lights come first for a reason.”

LED lighting kits can be purchased for $200. Be sure to test the lights before you buy them, as low-cost knockoffs can result in flickering and even color casting.

5. Don’t skimp on sound. “Think that onboard microphone on your smartphone or camera will do the job? Of course you don’t!” says Malone.

He warns that built-in mics will pick up all surrounding audio—including someone gulping water, the AC turning on or Bob sneezing down the hall. “Get a lavalier handheld or desk mic to make your production professional quality,” he says.

Bauer recommends the RodeLink Wireless Filmmaker Kit, which includes a transceiver, receiver and lavalier mic. “It runs about $393 at B&H,” he says. “This will get you nice and clean audio without having to learn a bunch of tech.”

6. Dare to be personal. “Video- and moviemaking is an intimate conversation with another individual,” says Malone. “Know your audience, and create something that matters to them, not you.”

Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager for PR Daily’s PR University. Brian Malone the founder of Malone Media, a video production company whose clients include Facebook. He will share more video insights in PR University’s April 13 webinar, “Modern Video Workflow: Shoot, Edit and Distribute Video with Little or No Budget.”

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