In the last two years, the LeadPages video team and I have made more than 350 videos. That’s a new video nearly every other day.
In that time, we’ve learned a lot about quickly creating and publishing videos, and we’ve figured out ways to make the process faster and easier over time. Today, I want to share the method I’ve created to produce better quality, more engaging videos with the least amount of effort—the S.L.A.C.K. formula.
Let’s jump right in.
Typically when people new to video decide to make a video, they turn on the camera and improvise. They don’t think much about what they’re going to say.
This works for some people IF they’re good at improvising, but the vast majority of us (myself included) can get better results if we just think about what we’re going to say and write it down. In fact, I think scripting is the most important part of the video process—and without a good script, your video will fall flat.
Writing down what you’re going to say allows you to logically put together a message that will resonate with your viewers. You’ll be able to cover the exact points you want to, you’ll be able to say the exact things you want to, and you’ll be able to convey the exact message you want to. Without scripting, this is all left up to chance. When money is on the line, I like to leave as few things to chance as possible.
For example, you could have a really good take going, and then mess up. If you then need to do another take, it’s very hard to remember exactly what you said. But if you have a script, you can just go back and say the same thing again without having to think too hard about it.
Scripting will also allow you to explore tangents BEFORE the camera is rolling, so when the camera is rolling, it’s quick and painless.
How do you upgrade a mediocre camera without spending a dime?
Lighting is the easiest way to make quick wins if you don’t have a professional video setup. If you don’t want to spend any money, experiment with setting up in front of a window on a sunny day and letting the light shine in on your face.
With lighting you want to focus on not only how YOU look on camera, but also on how your background looks on camera. Are the lights where you’re shooting casting a shadow on the wall behind you? Is a shadow under your eyes making you look like a zombie? Is the video really grainy because of low light? These types of things can easily be fixed with adding some extra lighting.
For a very small investment, you can use simple clamp lights to start. Keep it simple. Put up one, and experiment. Find a place to position the light so that it lights the subject (you, your background, or both) in a way that doesn’t make it look washed out.
Once you get one set up nicely, repeat the process with a second light. Use one for your background and one for your subject. The key here is to experiment until you find a combination of lights that light everything nicely. Use your best judgment. If it looks pretty good to you, chances are it will look pretty good to others as well.
Check out this video to see the difference a couple of well placed lights can make, and how you can set up good lighting yourself:
Nothing kills your credibility as quickly as horrible audio. Think about videos you’ve seen where someone is filming on their phone and there’s wind blowing so hard you can barely hear what they’re saying. Or there’s so much echo in the room it sounds like they’re standing 20 feet away.
Often, people just starting out will use the microphone on their video camera, which can work just fine. But viewers will tolerate a lot of video mistakes if they can still listen and understand what you’re saying. In fact, a lot of people turn videos on and don’t watch at all, they’ll let the audio play while they’re cleaning house, driving, or working out The best part is, again, there are VERY affordable solutions. You can get a wired lapel mic from Amazon for around $20. Below you’ll see and hear a side-by-side comparison of my $20 wired lapel mic vs. the built-in mic on my camera. Which do you think sounds better?
A common misconception about creating videos is that you have to go out and buy an expensive, complicated camera to get good video. But actually, you probably have a pretty darn good camera sitting within arm’s reach. Your smartphone.
If I were just starting out with video, I wouldn’t go out and buy a $400 point and shoot camera to get started. I’d use my iPhone, which can shoot amazing video IF you have good lighting. Since we already covered how to do that, we should be set to shoot great video and audio with our iphone or similar smartphone.
On the other hand, if you already have a point-and-shoot camera that can take video, go ahead and use that. All of the previous elements work together to make your smartphone or point-and-shoot camera produce high-quality videos on a budget.
Once you start getting positive results (because you’re following the S.L.A.C.K. formula right?!), uplevel your camera to something that you can afford that will take your videos to the next level. Just move up incrementally. In the video below you can see just how good the built in camera on an iPhone can do against an expensive DSLR camera. Still think you need to go buy a new video camera?
Finally, you have to give your audience something to pay attention to and get value from. I call this the Knowledge Bomb. Put yourself in the position of your viewer and ask: what’s in it for me? What am I going to get out of watching this video? Whether you’re creating a video to get people to opt in or to sell something, you need to give them a reason to take action. You can use a knowledge bomb to do this. By providing some super valuable information at the beginning of your video, you can hook the viewer in and get them to pay attention because you’ve just given them some knowledge they maybe didn’t have before.
For instance, if you’re a food blogger you could talk about how wheat that we eat today isn’t the same strain as it was in the 1800s and how it has ill effects on our digestive system. Then in the video, you’d go on to provide an alternative. Let’s say you’re a consultant or coach. Your knowledge bomb could be a claim that the number one reason most people don’t see success is because they hold a certain subconscious belief. In the video you could explain this more in depth, then provide a solution to change that belief. In every video we make at LeadPages, we try to drop a knowledge bomb somewhere in the video to make it valuable for our viewers, and I would encourage you to do the same. Now, I want to give you some homework…but don’t worry, it will be easy. We’ve created a colorful infographic poster to help. Download The SLACK Guide to Better Videos below, then implement one letter of the formula this week
For instance, you could start with S and sit down to write a video script. You could start with A and improve your audio by picking up a lapel mic. Just pick one letter and implement it in your video and see what result it gets you. Then come back to this post and comment below on how it affected things.
I bet you’ll be a S.L.A.C.K.er in no time!