Make better videos

How to Make Better Videos for Your Business

Have you decided that you really need to make better videos to get on top of marketing your business in 2019? Maybe you’ve sat down and made a list of all the things you’ll need.


  • Microphone
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Clean office
  • Fresh makeup
  • Clean suit
  • Brand messaging
  • Story
  • Call to action
  • Script


And, quite possibly, about 20 more…


Depending on the person and the business, this list can go on for quite some time. You do some research, you add a few more things to the list and, before you know it, your to-do list has turned into a manifesto for why you are absolutely NOT READY to start making videos!


Got a list like that? Throw it away!


Today, we’re going to write a new manifesto. It’s short, to the point, and comes in the form of our quick start guide to help you make better videos for your business. Ready to rip off the band-aid and jump in?


Some of the best, most actionable, and realistic advice I’ve ever heard on how to make better videos comes from a great live session that happened in the How Great Marketing Works Facebook group, when our founder Finola Howard, spoke to Marie-Clare Byard, of NowMedia, and Catherine Graham, of MediaLab.


All three are experienced video makers but come from very different perspectives. Together, they have an incredible wealth of knowledge to pass on. I’ve rounded up some of the most useful things they had to say – as well as a few nuggets of my own – and laid them out for you below.


1 – Where is Your Start Point?

Let’s start with some good news. You already own one of the best tools around for making videos. It’s your mobile phone. Android, Windows, iPhone – it doesn’t matter. Every modern smartphone will be able to make a great video.


Beyond this, the other must-haves will depend on what kind of video you’re likely to be making. By and large, this will be either “on the go” or “to camera”.


An important consideration for all types of video is where the sound is coming from. On the go, you might want a lapel mike or two, one for you and one for the person you’re talking to. You might also want a dead cat, or wind muff, as it’s officially called, to absorb wind and other sounds when you’re out in the wilds.


Hopefully, your indoor office or recording studio will be free of dead cats and you may find you can improve it with some extra lighting (you can do quite well with some imaginatively arranged lamps). You can also buy a background, often pull-down, that will make whatever lies behind you into a nice, bland void (that’s a good thing).


Either indoors or out, tripods, sliders (a tool to help you take tracking or slidey shots), and gimbals (another tool to help keep a camera steady when shooting) can add interest and flexibility to your filming but, starting out, you’re unlikely to need much more than a tripod – and we’re not talking about a traditional tripod either. Newer models like the JOBY allow you to fix your camera almost anywhere, so you’re not stuck propping it up with coffee mugs and books (or is that just me?)


Beyond these, stop worrying and get filming. You can, of course, add more as time goes on, but to get started, a phone and some bright lights are really all you need.


2 – Take a Look at Your Studio


Am I getting a bit ambitious, calling it a studio? Maybe so, but if you’re planning on making to-camera videos on a regular basis, you should start thinking about a place that you can optimise for video. This will look different for everyone, depending on the space you’ve got. Do what you can to make filming an easy decision and not something that requires 2 hours of clearing before you can get started.


So, if you can:

  • Remove clutter
  • Find a neutral background
  • Aim for natural light hitting the face straight on so you can look your best
  • Supplement with lamps or specialist lighting


If you’re filming on the go, there’s less you can do to organise the background. That said, you should always scan your filming area to pick the best from what you’ve got. Don’t forget about the concept of using your surroundings to suggest a context for the subject of your video. You can nab a person for interview or vox pop (asking a member of the public for their opinion on something), for example, moving through a door, giving the impression of genuinely being “on the go”.


3 – Looking Your Best


There’s nothing better to make you feel self-conscious than a less-than-stellar video of yourself. Let’s be honest here – beyond good lighting, most of the work you’ll be doing here in is in your head. That said:

  • Good lighting is your friend
  • Horizontal stripes are not
  • Clear, solid colours often work best
  • Keep the camera at eye level, chin out and slightly down

If you have a tendency to talk with your hands, facilitate this with a tripod. It’s part of your personality (within reason) and trying to cut it out will make you feel uneasy and unnatural.


4 – To Script or not to Script?


There’s only one answer here – no script! Although it might make you more comfortable, scripts make you sound monotonous and unnatural. Since you’re making a video to convey passion and personality, this would be a huge loss. By all means, write a script and use it to practise (and practise you should), but for the final video or Live, leave it behind.


Speaking of practice, make sure you get plenty in before you perform for an audience. The most important thing you need to do is simply start, without worrying about what you might look like. Will your first video suck? Yep, probably. Will your second video? Um, yes. But by the 3rd and 4th, you’ll start to see improvements that might just be enough to convince you that video could be a magic maker in YOUR business.


Obviously, you can make as many trial videos as you want. Facebook Lives can be held just for you – or perhaps invite a trusted friend to give you feedback. Remember, if you’re hoping to attract an international audience to your videos, make sure to slow things down. Your accent may be awesome, but it doesn’t mean everybody else understands!


5 – Portrait or Landscape?


Ok, I’m probably going to upset you here, but there’s a good chance you should shoot your video in portrait. I know, I know, you thought landscape was the way to go – and it was. Landscape mode also fits more into the shot but think mobile!


If your viewer has to switch their screen around to view your video properly you might lose them. Further, many video platforms are recommending portrait more and more.


Take a look at this article and accompanying explanatory infographic for more on this.


Of course, this isn’t an absolute rule. You might use a platform that does well with videos made in landscape or just find that it works better for you. If you’re going to make videos for one particular platform, do some tests to find out the best orientation and distance from the camera for that use. If you still have doubt, however, opt for portrait or shoot two videos (one in portrait and one in landscape) and check your analytics to see which one gets viewed best.


6 – What Should I Talk About?


We’ve left this aspect to last because it’s often the question that really holds up the making of a video and, if you ponder it first, you might never get started! This would be a real pity because only through trial and error will you find the holy grail of subjects that:


  1. You know about
  2. You enjoy talking about
  3. People want to listen to!


The intersection of these – what you want to say and what “they” (the audience) want to hear is your Magic Slice, and that’s what you should be aiming for.


Sure, telling you that you should talk about that magical intersecting point is challenging to say the least but it is the work that needs to be done to create not only great video but also great marketing! 


In general, your content should do one of the 3Es – entertain, educate, or engage. More specifically, it should fit within strategically chosen Topic Clusters chosen in response to customer needs.


This means that, rather than jumping straight into video titles that you want to talk about, you are thinking more broadly about groups of topics that will interest your audience and drilling down from there. We’ll be delving into this in more detail in an upcoming article – make sure you subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss it!


So, now you’re ready to make better videos


With our 6 tips that will hopefully move you away from interminable lists and a bit closer to actually making a video!


We’re hugely grateful to Catherine and Marie Clare for their contributions to the Facebook Live with Finola and, as a result, this article.


Participants in Get Strategic… Get Results! have access to the members-only How GMW Facebook page, where you can view the video in its entirety. Their experience really showed in the breadth and naturalness of their advice.


If you take just one point from today’s article, it should be, in the style of Nike – just do it. Use your phone, make a video (today?), and refine from there. The important thing is to begin. Once you’re on a roll, gradually try to incorporate some of the advice from this article – just a bit at a time.


It goes without saying that if you are inspired to hit the red button, we would love to see the results and will happily provide you with both creative feedback and lots of encouragement. Tag us here and on social media to make sure we see your masterpiece!


So, that’s a wrap. Happy recording!

Niamh Lynch for How Great Marketing Work
Niamh Lynch

Niamh Lynch is a Digital Strategist. She created Clockwork Blog when she grew tired of seeing business people literally burning out from their online efforts, and decided to help them streamline and refine how they work online. She loves words and languages, and has an M.A. in Translation (but hated being a translator!).

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