“Humanizing” Your Corporate Video

Back in the early days of TV advertising and print media in the last century, it was enough to say,

“Acme is the best”.  And people would buy because you said so.

Then, when enough people were saying “we’re the best” Madison Avenue (New York) stepped in with the new age of “hype”…

And apparently, in the 21st Century, “hype” is still alive and well.

But wasn’t it decades ago that the general public started ignoring it knowing well they were just listening to “well scripted” advertising dialogue?

Perhaps that’s when advertising humor entered into the arena –and that worked well (and is still working well) with well known and established businesses whose products and services are already known. This then, was a matter of keeping the brand in the public’s mind. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But what about small businesses or corporations that aren’t well known or are brand new?

What will make the public listen to you?



For the last year I’ve been advising clients to not bother writing scripts or hiring professional actors or presenters.

I have a different approach.

I learned after doing about 1000 interviews with people all over the world in from all walks of life from the very bottom to the very top that all people are passionate about something. If you get them talking about what they want to talk about, they light up inevitably and invariably. And even with a video camera in their face, suddenly all their inhibitions and introversions disappear.

Conversely, if you try to get them to say some pre-conceived idea you’ve got–or try to coax them to say certain things–or try to get them to read a script, they get all wobbly and introverted and you wind up with hash. And some marketing or video companies will pass that off to you and expect you to applaud it as a professional marketing piece.

I’m sure you’ve seen this sort of result in various business videos you’ve seen. It’s either slick hype, or amateur school play time, and neither are very effective.

My approach in the production of a 3 minute business web video is to interview the person or persons involved. The interview is an informal chat, a conversation about the topic or topics we are meant to be promoting. It doesn’t matter what is said. “Ums” and “ahhs” don’t matter. Dead-end questions are dropped. Questions that raise the interest and emotional tone of the interviewee are expanded upon. I keep mental notes as to what material obtained will be useful in the eventual video and I generally know when I have enough such material. The interviews might be a cumulative 20 minutes or more for each person (if more than one). There might be as much as an hour’s material to distill down to 2 to 4 minutes.

After the interviews, I now know what other footage needs to be shot to cover what the person or persons were talking about and I shoot it.

I then go through all the material and isolate all the “usable bits”.

Next I put it into a logical order (which may not be the order it was obtained in) to give a suitable beginning, middle and end of the video.

Finally I edit it down to the desired length and that gives me the “narrative” for the video…in other words, the SCRIPT.

Part of that process is removing all the “umms” and “ahhs” (as much as possible) and any irrelevant parts. It’s not that saying “umm” or “ahh” is bad. It’s human. But as an example, in one recent 3 minute video I seamlessly cut out 38 “ums”. That wasn’t all of them, but enough to make the person come off very well indeed while still being human.

So finally, when this narrative is all together in a cohesive string, if you were to look at it on the editing timeline, it would look like the person has been “sliced and diced”.

So all those slices and dices are then covered up with the relevant shots of what it is that the person is talking about–which of course forwards the message of what he’s talking about.

The editing job is to keep it on point to forward the marketing message you wanted in the first place.

And you wind up with a piece that is sincere, even passionate, and with no trace of hype because it’s the real deal, warts and all.

You wind up with a piece that’s believable.

Like this one:

One response

  1. I like this on several levels. First of all, it’s comfortable to watch. Secondly, as a former broadcast journalist, I like the fact that it’s put together much like a news story (albeit with a lot more production value!) and thirdly, I like the way that it does not feel at all scripted or “staged,” which with untrained talent can come across as very wooden and ineffective. Finally, what I really like is the fact that it comes across as genuine and heartfelt. Bravo!


Don't just sit there...say something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: