Welcome to the fifth installment in my series offering advice on preparing for your corporate or business video. If you have missed previous blogs in this series, please read them on our BLOG PAGE. In this article, I will advise on what you should consider when choosing who to present your business on screen and who your video is aimed at (your target audience). In my supplementary blog “Choosing a Production Company,” I will offer advice on what to consider when choosing the most suitable company to film your business video.
Remember, everyone who appears onscreen is the face of your company. Each person will reflect how your clients and colleagues perceive your business. It is essential that you put the most appropriate people in front of the camera in relation to the message you want to give, how you want your business to be seen and your target audience. With this in mind, here are a few important considerations when choosing your onscreen talent.
ROLE/POSITION IN THE COMPANY – if it’s a legal message, make sure it is delivered by a qualified member of the legal department. If it’s a company overview, make sure it is delivered by an enthusiastic director or PR manager. If it’s a product information video, it should be presented by a person who has full knowledge of that product. In short, the presenter or interviewee should be in a role directly linked to the message they are giving.
A slight word of warning here, though – the most senior person is not always the best person to present on screen for one or more of the other reasons listed below so please consider all of these points together when making your choices.
THEIR ABILITY TO DELIVER THE MESSAGE CLEARLY AND NATURALLY - a senior manager, highly experienced in presenting to conference halls full of attendees will not necessarily feel comfortable in front of a camera. You will often find that another member of the management team will perform better in a filmed interview situation. We are fully aware that video is not a normal part of a company’s day-to-day routine and, quite rightly, it may not be the primary focus or priority for a CEO or MD. Think about how your managers and directors perform on a social level and who would be most relaxed, passionate and amiable when chatting in front of a camera.
SPEECH – this is where we begin to get a little ruthless. Please remember, none of this advice is intended to be offensive but you must be honest if you want to present your business at its best. The way people speak can hugely affect the way a message is received. People can be cruel and if a presenter has a lisp, stammer or other speech impediment, unfortunately the audience will focus on this rather than the given message. Similarly, if the head of your legal team has a strong accent and mumbles or stumbles over words, it may be difficult for the audience to take in that important message. That said, an accent can also have a huge, positive impact on the message. The difference in pronunciation can be instantly attractive to viewers and present your business as an international concern so don’t dismiss your overseas staff as onscreen talent. They can bring another dimension to the video you may not have considered before.
CLOTHING – Clothes are a very important consideration for video and should be carefully planned. Again, remember our mantra “don’t lose sight of the purpose of your video.” If it’s a legal message, it would make sense to have the interviewee wear a suit and tie as this is how most people would expect a lawyer to dress. However, if you want the message to be more friendly or approachable, lose the jacket and tie and have the presenter wear just a shirt. If it’s a specific product or on-site video, a branded polo shirt may be most appropriate.
Whatever they wear it must be clean and tidy. Dirty overalls, a wrinkled shirt or a crooked tie will convey to the viewer that your company doesn’t take as much care as they should.
A NOTE ON CLOTHING – there are certain colours and styles that do not work well on camera and should be avoided. Stripes and small patterns on shirts, dresses and suits will “strobe” on screen due to the way the camera scans the image. Bright white shirts can be uncomfortable on the eye under video lighting conditions. Similarly, some bright primary colours can cause problems on camera. All of the above should be avoided. A good video company will advise as to what clothes would work best so if you are unsure, please ask.
GROOMING – again, this may seem a little personal but would you prefer your company to be presented by the manager with the patchy beard, scraggly, unruly hair and sweat patches under their arms or the well groomed, tidy haired, well ironed member of his team?
GENERAL APPEARANCE – this is where you need to be most ruthless. We have filmed on occasions when we have had to point out an unfortunate pimple, heat rash, bloodshot eye or sweat patch to a client. For many of these, the client has been too self-conscious to mention this to the person being filmed, told us to film them anyway and then asked if we can remove these issues in the edit. The answer is usually “no,” but even if problems can be fixed at the edit stage it is normally time consuming and, therefore, expensive. Remember – the people on screen are the face of your company.
OTHER ON-SCREEN CONTRIBUTORS
Most shots taken around your business will include staff members and colleagues and it is just as important to consider their appearance. Ripped overalls or the wrong workwear may not be the image you wish to convey. Similarly, would you want to show a colleague operating machinery with his or her arm in a sling? And what about the apprentice with his hard hat on back to front and the offensive tee shirt? Remember, everyone who appears on screen is the face of your business.
KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
If you understand your audience, you will be more able to plan your imagery and presenters around that audience. If you are a fashion brand, your audience will associate more with a younger presenter dressed casually than a middle-aged man in a suit. However, the middle-aged man in a suit may be more appropriate for a prestige car showroom, antiques house or vintage Cognac brand. Similarly, a bright, modern interview style in a bright, neon location may suit the fashion brand whereas a more traditional interview in a richer, warmer and darker lit location would suit the Cognac better. We will discuss location planning in our furure blog entitled “Where?”
Again, the production company should advise on the style and creative aspect but you understand your market better than anybody so think about the style and imagery that most suits your brand – fast, funky with lots of movement; classical, slower with more graceful movement or something in between.
In my next, supplementary article I will offer unbiased advice on how to choose the best production company for your needs. Please read my PREVIOUS BLOGS for further advice on planning your video.
If you have any questions or suggestions arising from this article, please leave a comment or get in touch via our CONTACT PAGE and we'll be happy to chat with you about any aspect of video production.