Scroll through your LinkedIn feed, and you'll likely see scores of videos produced by companies telling their corporate stories, professional media outlets expanding the reach of their content, and your connections on LinkedIn trying to build their personal brands.
This past summer, LinkedIn rolled out native video to a good chunk of its 450 million-plus members. While they've been rolling out the function to limited batches of members, eventually, everyone will have the ability to upload video both through LinkedIn's smartphone app and from their favorite browser.
Some of the videos boast top-notch production values, like the ones from The Economist and Wired. A handful of the videos produced by individual LinkedIn members like Paul Carrick Brunson and LinkedIn Influencers like Ian Bremmer, President at Eurasia Group, are also highly engaging and very well produced.
Many of the videos posted on LinkedIn, however, look amateur. Sure, it's a new platform and people are experimenting. They're trying to see what sticks and what doesn't. I get that.
But viewers are hard to find and even harder to hold onto, especially when there's a flood of content competing for their attention. So creating videos that make people pause and spend a few seconds or, better yet, minutes, to watch yours is a feat not to be underestimated.
Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to inject energy and professionalism into your videos that don't require shelling out thousands of extra dollars for fancy equipment, either. Here are a few I've learned after creating videos over the past several years:
1. Know the message you want to tell?--?and then show it.
What is the key message or set of messages you're trying to get across with your video? What would you like viewers to remember after having watched your video? Are you trying to tell about an exciting new internship program that will change your career forever, like the video I produced recently for my company?
You don't have to produce an award-winning documentary, but you should be saying something both meaningful and new in your video that is relevant to the audience you're trying to reach.
2. Script it out.
Set-up some talking head interviews, collect a bunch of B-roll footage and still photos, splice three times, and boom! You've got your video, right? I learned the hard way that's not how you should produce a video.
Instead, you should start your video with a script. Open a blank document and insert a table. In the left column, write the voice part, whether it's performed by a narrator, or the interviewee. And in the right column, write a short description of the visuals that will accompany the audio portion.
Your script is an easily editable, easily shareable document that will make it easier to make decisions regarding what and whom you want to shoot, before you actually start shooting video.
Ironically, something as highly visual as a video starts out as something purely textual.
3. Add lots of B-roll.
The pros know that to hold a viewer's attention, you have to constantly interrupt what they're watching and shift to something new. They do this through a number of techniques, the most popular of which is adding "B-roll."
"B-roll" is simply the video sequences, still photos, and graphics that the bulk of any video comprises. If there are a lot of interviews in your video, you'll want to show the interviewee briefly to introduce them, and then cut away from them and to the B-roll footage which illustrates the story you're trying to tell.
4. Pan and zoom.
One of the simplest but most effective tricks professional video producers use is to apply a pan and zoom effect to still images. Known widely in the industry as the "Ken Burns effect," after the famous documentary filmmaker, this effect takes an otherwise static image and turns it into a moving image.
We've all see this technique used in the videos we watch, but we may not know what it's called. Now you do! Make good use of it.
5. Add a professional music track.
There's a plethora of stock music sites that allow you to download music that's in the public domain for free. And the paid sites allow you to sample clips before purchasing audio files, which usually only cost a handful of dollars. So there's really no excuse not to have a high quality music track that sets the tone and pace of your video.
6. Keep it short.
Today we live in a world where our attention is fragmented and harder to hold onto than ever before. Unless you're George Lucas or Steven Spielberg, you'll have to keep your videos as compact as possible--no more than two to three minutes. Shorter is even better.
Sure, you could argue the length of your video depends on the richness and complexity of your content. Sure, you could argue it depends on your audience. But believe me, I've seen the back-end stats to my videos that went on for longer than three minutes?--and it ain't pretty!
There's a noticeable drop-off in viewership after about two minutes, so why risk it? Don't you want people to get to the end so they can finish what you have to tell them, and then they go and share it with their friends?