Grownup business video: what really works, and what doesn’t

Over the last few weeks and months here on HTWB we have shared a number of articles and tutorials on how to make the best of video for business and other organisations (or business documentary video) as it exists today, both technically and practically. (NB I do not include video advertising commercials here – different ballgame.)

How to write video that works properly

Sorry if I’m brutal, but with my history of writing and making business videos, you might my find my views interesting…

Having been a corporate video producer, writer and director for more years than I care to admit to, I have watched the way business documentary video has evolved with a great deal of interest.

The good news is that it has become affordable to thousands of businesses and other organisations who couldn’t have dreamt of using it 20 years ago when its production cost many times what it does now.

The bad news is that because documentary business video is so cheap and easy to produce, it’s often offered by people who understand how the kit works but have never had to learn how to tell a story in motion pictures, and learn why professionalism in production and post-production is so important.

So I am now about to smash down many wannabee videographers’ dreams and ambitions by sharing what I believe are video’s strengths, and weaknesses, in today’s business and other documentary climates.
How to write video that works properly

Ready? Here’s what grownup business video really works well for

Demonstration. If a product or process moves, video it. If it doesn’t, show still images because they look better.

Familiarisation. If you want to show people around a location, video is brilliant. Watch that any voice complements the images – doesn’t tell people what they can already see.

Personal contact. If you can come across naturally and convincingly in-vision on video, it’s worth pure gold.

Testimonials and vox pops. Video is a very useful way to capture your customers’ views on the products and service you provide, preferably in their own environments where they can show your products/services in action and how they contribute favourably.

Tracking a process. Many people learn better and more easily by watching how to do it. NB: many bloggers now show videos of processes and accompany those with written transcripts, so people who learn better from reading words benefit equally. That’s a very good idea.

Telling a story. But only if the director and editor know what they’re doing: this article is 5 years old but still gives excellent advice on this topic.

Introducing a company. But only if whoever presents it can do it naturally without looking and sounding like a ventriloquist’s puppet.

Creating a historical review. Good editing techniques are needed, but video is a great way to blend archived footage, stills and modern day images.

Genuinely unrehearsed conversation and discussion. Brilliant, as long as it’s professionally chaired and facilitated, or carried out at least by someone who knows what they’re doing.

How to write video that works properly

And here’s what today’s video does NOT work for. Yes, really.

Pompous “corporate” narrative. No-one believes that junk when you write it in your blogs and/or webtext, so why should they believe it if you speak it on a video?

Fake, phony interviews. Oh, please. Do you honestly believe your customers will believe your badly edited supposed “answers” to questions posed by an obvious stooge interviewer? Grow up.

Fancy speeded-up still images made to look like moving pictures. Sorry, but these look crappy and largely irrelevant. They may cost cheapo via some off-the-shelf offer; that’s why they’re cheapo.

Silly cartoons meant to represent your business. Need we say more? Come on …

Training. Yes, I do mean it. The”training videos” of the past had to be excellent if they were to be taken seriously (anyone old enough to remember Video Arts?) and because that usually involved dramatisation, it cost a lot of money which isn’t around any more. Dramatised training video made on the cheap is more cringe-making than the sound of fingernails scraping down a blackboard. Stick to multiple choice online stuff, or best of all, live training…

So-called “professional” videos made by people who aren’t professional video makers. There are thousands of these around – mainly well-meaning amateurs who got the bug for videography when it became easy for nitwits to use. Beware of these types because they think they are professionals and are more or less, at operating the kit, but most know f*** all about making motion pictures. A huge discrepancy.

Video companies who want you to sign up for so many videos per year. These people are interested in getting regular monthly income into their own coffers. They are not interested in your coffers other than what they can dig out of them. Ask yourself if you really need X number of videos per year? Or is it more cost-effective for you to buy video ad hoc  according to your business’s own needs?

Videos featuring an amateur presenter who doesn’t know how to do it. This is usually the head honcho of the company who looks like he still has the coat hanger in his jacket and is sitting on a live cattle prod – because he is terrified. S/he welcomes viewers in a high, squeaky voice that’s about as warm and inviting as an Arctic blizzard. Unless the boss is very, very good, get a professional presenter or use a voice-over.How to write video that works properly

Further reading on how to write and create better videos for business and other activities

How to write a powerful voice-over narration script for video

How to make good business videos without going to Hollywood

Hey, business videos: aren’t you forgetting something?

DIY videoers: why proper scripts save time and money and don’t bite

Blabbing on live video: some useful tips I picked up

How to look your best on live streaming video

How to use makeup to look your best on camera

Creative training videos: this the renaissance at last?

How to get powerful off-camera interviews for your online video

How to write in-vision video scripts that work for you personally 

Grownup business video: what really works, and what doesn’t

How to write video that works properly

What questions do you have on how to write and create better video for yourself and your business?

Please share them here and we will answer them ASAP!

And should you have further questions on how to write better for pretty well anything, take a swift tour of our bookshop, here…