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How to Make Great Videos: Planning the Content of Your Video

Video production tips

First in an on-going series about how to make professional videos without being a video professional, without needing specialized tools. Read more here.
More than fancy equipment or editing software, what determines the success of a video is how well you plan the message you want to convey.
It’s an obvious step, isn’t it? But it’s easier said than done. All too often, we turn on the camera with the idea that we’re going to talk about a topic that we know well, and then stumble our way through. But it’s not just a matter of scripting out the right words. A successful video begins with a specific goal. If you just try to write out all the things you want to say, you have a good chance of losing track of why you wanted the video in the first place. So how do you plan a successful video?

3 Steps to a Confident Video Recording

Write a video scriptSet your goal. Start with your audience. Who do you think is going to watch your video? Then decide what key takeaway you want them to have. You can have subpoints, but start with a way to measure the success of your video. Do you want viewers to understand a specific concept? Do you want them to be inspired to perform an action? If you aren’t sure what the point of your video is, your viewers won’t be either.
Plan your video. Now that you know what your end goal is, structure your plan around that. What kind of plan you make is up to you. Some people are much more comfortable speaking off-the-cuff, and will be more eloquent and authentic if they don’t have to read something word-for-word. If you’re that kind of speaker, then you’ll want to make an outline so you hit all of your points in an order that builds towards your end goal. Others are more prone to stammer, meander, or freeze up if they have to improvise. If you’re a more structured speaker, you may want to write out a full script for yourself, playing with the words until you’re happy with them.
If you’re going to sync to a presentation, you’ll want to do more than just plan your slides. You’ll want to plan out what you’re going to say for each slide. (Remember, you shouldn’t just be reading your slides out loud, or people will read ahead and stop listening to you. Try to have your visual elements and your spoken elements complement each other rather than duplicating.) If you’re planning to do a screen capture or demonstration, plan out each step you want to show. Write it down for yourself if you have to, so you don’t forget anything.
Rehearse. It seems silly, sometimes, to practice a presentation you wrote or to rehearse a demo you already know. But if you’re going to make the effort to make a video, you’ll end up with a much more polished and compelling video if you walk through it ahead of time. Find the places in the demo where there are pauses you’ll want to talk over and see where you have to speed up and slow down. Discover how the words you wrote sound out loud—you may be surprised how often something that looks good on paper sounds strange out loud. Make sure the steps flow naturally in the order you have them. Have your best phrases already planned and your pacing comfortable before you ever turn on the camera.
Comfortable? Confident? Now you’re ready for the next step: deciding what format to shoot in.

Video is a great way to help teach. Watch “Tips For Using Video In Teaching & Learning.”

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