Every video you create should have a purpose and effectively convey its message. Having a clear message and purpose helps to inform several other decisions about your video production. Some of these decisions are obvious, while others are much more subtle. More importantly, though, it helps to hold the viewer’s attention by creating a more engaging experience. It’s not easy to create videos that people will watch to the end, but articulate messaging is a big step in the right direction.
Here, we’ll give you a deep-dive into how to define your video’s purpose and plan properly for strong communication. Then, we’ll cover tips for a clear script, as well as how the on-screen talent can elevate the message for better results, even if they are amateurs. Plus, we’ll show you how your other pre-production and on-set decisions can support the purpose and draw the viewer in. Background, wardrobe, music and shooting all play a part in capturing the audience and promoting the goals. You’ll be able to combine these skills to create more effective videos and meet your objectives.
First, determine the real purpose of the video
You may think you know why you’re making a video, but dig deeper to find the true purpose. Particularly in vlogs or casually styled videos, it might seem like there isn’t a solid plan and it just works out to become something cool and grows naturally. However, if the channel is successful and the audience is expanding, chances are good that a lot of work is going into pre-production. For the sake of messaging, this begins with defining the purpose of each video and setting goals.
One of the first things to take into consideration is why the video is being made. It might be for your own personal project, to share a story, stay connected or practice a new technique. You could be making a video for a client based on their own personal projects, or promoting their favorite cause. If you’re creating a video for a company—even if it’s your own company—it’s important to consider if the purpose is advertising, instructional or informational. Sometimes, you’ll even create videos for your own portfolio to showcase your skills and appeal to potential clients. It’s easy to know who you’re creating content for, but be sure that you understand why.
Next, consider the goal of the finished product. If you’re creating a video for a personal project, the goal might simply be entertainment. Even if that’s true, the real goal becomes generating reactions such as laughter or compassion. For more business-oriented videos, perhaps the goal is audience engagement, expanding the base of followers, generating clicks, increasing purchases or many other things. These are critical conversations to have, especially if the answers don’t come easy. Coach your clients into defining firm, measurable goals whenever possible to help you plan the message to meet the objective.
Once you have determined the purpose and goal of the video, it’s time to prepare a script. Having a clear and concise script—regardless of the type of project—will keep the video’s message and purpose at the forefront of the production. This is a critical step in articulating your message, so it is important to take your time and be thorough to create a good script.
Use concise messaging for the right audience
Crafting a concise message requires a bit of balance between under and over-explaining. You must give the viewers all of the information that they’ll need to understand your video, but also keep it clear and brief so it holds their interest. When writing scripts, try to word it a few different ways to compare the clarity and ensure that you’re finding the most condensed way to get your point across. Trim out superfluous words and use direct language whenever possible so that your video isn’t longer than necessary.
As you go through this process, don’t overlook the importance of understanding the target audience while creating scripts. Your message will need to resonate with the viewer to hold their attention. This will be true for instructional videos as much as beauty vlogs or advertorials. Take the demographics into account, of course, but think outside of stereotypes. If your video is related to automotive repair, the message should be for people who have an interest in automotive repair without an assumption that the audience is primarily men or speaking directly to men. Also, never assume anything about the audience’s comprehension level based on demographics. No one likes to be talked down to and they will quickly turn their attention elsewhere.
Overlooking the Call To Action—CTA—is a common mistake to avoid. There are advertorials out there that fail to say how to buy the products they’re touting. If you’re not certain what the CTA should be for your video, refer back to the true purpose you’ve defined. For example, when the goal is audience growth, channel hosts end every video with something like “thanks for watching, click below to join our fans and share this video with your friends!” In educational videos, there may be post-video instructions for a quiz or encouragement to go put the new information to good use in the world.
Be intentional with everything else
Once you have honed the actual message, you can apply this strategy to other areas of production, too. Everything from backgrounds to lighting should be a consideration. Even the clothing choices and hairstyles can lend credibility to your message. They can also be so distracting that viewers talk about that instead of the content. Any music selections—or choosing to not use music—can reinforce the purpose or take away from it. If your video is for commercial purposes, be sure to get releases on any music or other artwork shown. The best producers and directors are experts at this skill. You’ll find that everything on their sets is intentional, from the lighting style to the color of the walls. Each detail pulls in a thread that lends merit and prevents distractions.
Keeping the set clean is a good policy in any production. It’s obviously easier to stay organized in a well-maintained workspace. It also helps ensure that there are no accidental coffee cups in the background or anything else that could be distracting. Keep the on-camera and off-camera environments as separate as possible. Instill this habit early and enforce it with stagehands, camera crew, actors, delivery personnel and anyone else who will be in the vicinity.
During filming, you’ll want the cameras to remain focused on what’s important. B-roll cameras should do this, as well. Your shot lists and storyboards are the best tools to set this expectation during pre-production. Each frame should help convey the overall message. Shooting from different angles and zooming in or out at the right time adds a layer of experience for the viewer. These layers of experience can be good or bad so choose your camera moves wisely.
Stick to the script, even with experts
Giving scripts to the actors in a full-scale movie production usually has an expectation of memorizing and following the script. Other types of productions might feel more improvisational. However, they rarely are. The key is to appear natural no matter what the content of the script is. Going off-script often causes distractions and diminishes productivity. To avoid that, inform your talent in the earliest conversations that the scripts are intentional and must be followed. Then, be sure to give them the necessary tools to deliver the message to your expectations. This will help prevent muddying the message and production delays.
If you are creating educational videos, the hired talent may want to speak from their own perspective because they have experience with the topic. Some videos will have a host interviewing an expert. For this, there should also be a script—although it can be less strictly followed in this example—to help keep the conversation on track and serving the purpose. Even if they are an expert, allowing them to speak freely can take away from the voice of the company or school whom the videos represent. It may come off as unpolished, or even too polished, depending on the purpose and audience.
Master the delivery
In some instances, particularly with personal projects, you might actually be the on-screen talent instead of hiring professionals. In other cases, such as a commercial advertising project, you may have amateur talent because the business owner wants to appear in their video. Regardless of the circumstances, there are some things you can do to ensure a seamless delivery.
Get your scripts into the hands of the talent as early as possible so they can begin learning it. While it’s critical to follow the script, be available to hear any feedback. Perhaps they find a phrase confusing or a word difficult to pronounce. These things will be hard to deliver and a quick edit might solve the problem so they can be comfortable in front of the camera. Additionally, discussing the real purpose of the video with the talent will give them insight that adds a layer of believability to their delivery.
It’s important for anyone speaking on-camera to use a measured cadence and tone. For voice-only recordings, a lot can be managed in post-production if needed. You can speed up or slow down various segments. We’d like to avoid it, but it can be done. With video, though, slowing down or speeding up affects the visuals, so tempo matters.
Your on-screen talent should enunciate each word clearly and try to keep their volume as steady as possible throughout. Many vocal coaches encourage the use of simple exercises to help warm up the facial muscles. A quick online search will yield a lot of tips for this. Such exercises are especially helpful for amateur talent. Also, if there are multiple speakers, you’ll want them to try to match their volumes as much as possible. This saves from extra editing work.
Practice, practice, practice… but don’t over-do it
Once they are familiar with the message and scripting, give them an opportunity to practice in front of the camera a few times before doing any production takes. Watch the playback together to discuss what works and what doesn’t. Explaining why you like or dislike parts of the playback can help them make adjustments. Are there mannerisms they used that are distracting or are they just the right amount of casual? Does the inflection in their voice sound nervous or confident?
Be cautious of over-rehearsing. If the delivery is too rehearsed, it begins to deteriorate in other ways. It can sound unnatural or worse, like a bad stage performance. The best videos will seem genuine as if the actors are not acting at all. The goal is to be both relaxed and articulate so that your message is believable and the audience is interested in hearing what you have to say. After all, if they can’t watch it through to the end, they’re probably going to miss that very important CTA.
Put it to good use
Hopefully, with these concepts in your arsenal of creator tools, your upcoming projects will be better than ever. You’ll be able to have strong conversations with clients or your own crew about the real purpose of the video. Enter your planning sessions mindfully and question each decision to confirm it serves the purpose. Consider the backdrop, the colors, the wardrobe, the props and the accessories. Have analytical discussions about the lighting and music. If you can’t find the purpose, don’t use it.
The purpose should be reflected in your scripts for clear messaging without any fluff. Everything revolves around the ultimate goal of getting the viewers to the CTA in a comfortable way. Once you’ve coached all of this to the talent, they’ll be able to practice with purpose. When filming commences, follow the shot plans closely, too. Every frame matters. Each zoom, tilt and pan is intentional and draws the audience in without distractions.
You’ll find that delivering your message in multiple ways truly impacts the quality of your finished products. It creates a more compelling viewing experience and holds the audience’s attention longer. All in all, the best way to convey the message of your video is to put a lot of time into the pre-production planning stages and deliver the message in the most digestible way possible. Keep this at the forefront of every production to boost results and please the viewers as well as the clients.
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