When you focus on everything, you’re not focused on
anything, says SHRM’s video expert.
By Jennifer J. Salopek
Are you focusing on the wrong things when you produce
videos? Many of us are, says Patrick Mirza, multimedia producer at the Society
for Human Resource Management. In his session at the AM&P Annual Meeting in
May, Mirza notes that most video work occurs before the camera is even turned
on. Devoting sufficient thought and time to planning your video production can
increase the quality and impact of your videos significantly.
Mirza, who hosts a biweekly video program for SHRM and who
estimates that he has produced more than a thousand video and audio projects,
says that people without video experience tend to make certain key mistakes.
"The first thing many people think about is capturing footage,” he says.
"They’re excited to jump in and shoot.”
It’s critical to determine what you are capturing, why, and how;
in other words, to focus on what’s important in your video. "When you focus on
everything, you’re not focused on anything,” Mirza says. He emphasizes that
pre-production planning should take more time than production and
post-production together — about 70 percent of the total project time.
- Background research.
- Story line development.
- Legal issues.
Addressing these considerations in advance is vital, says
Mirza, who notes that otherwise you may not capture enough material, you may
miss critical elements, or you may capture too much content, which leads to
"If we could skip 70 percent of the work and still put out a
good video, we would do it every single time,” he notes.
Mirza acknowledges that many of us receive video requests on
the fly because important people will be at a certain place at a certain time.
Those making the request often aren’t aware of the pre-work that should go into
a video production and underestimate the amount of time it takes to shoot
footage. Mirza recommends pre-interviews via telephone that can help refine
talking points until they are crisp and prioritized and recommends allotting at
least 45 minutes for each interview. "Trying to fit video interviews into the
cracks of another event can work, but only if there is enough time,” he says.
He also recommends against rushing board members and other
VIPs. As he notes, the people selected for videos are usually high-profile,
busy people. "People like that typically are used to controlling situations,”
he says. "They don’t like to be rushed and will resist if you try.”
Another common mistake we make is assuming that video is
reality. It isn’t, Mirza says — video is performance. "People don’t naturally
show up in clothes that look good on camera, sit in beautifully lit settings,
and offer pithy comments,” he says.
"Imagine trying to put on a play that you had never
rehearsed. You wouldn’t! But people try to do that all the time with video.”
Pre-production should ultimately help you determine the
answers to four key questions:
- What is your business objective?
- What audience are you trying to reach?
- What key message do you want to deliver to that audience?
- What is your call to action?
"When we answer these questions, we often agree to do a very
different video from the one originally proposed,” Mirza says.
It’s also important to focus on what video is good at.
"Video is a great tool, but it’s not good for everything,” Mirza says. Some of
video’s strengths include speed, intimacy, emotion, action, and scale. It is
not good for stories that lack a visual element or those that have a very short
During the Q&A portion of the session, one attendee
asked how to combat association executives’ desire for "talking heads on
video.” Mirza recommends asking your internal client: What is the benefit that
video brings if there is no visual element? What are we getting for the extra
"You can make something that looks like a video without any
video footage — for example, by combining audio with headshots and animated
graphics,” he notes. "Video is inherently expensive stuff.”
Jennifer J. Salopek is a
freelance writer who specializes in association communications.