I’ve researched, scripted, recorded, and edited well over 7,000+ pieces of video content. I've made everything from my own social media content, hiring videos, and helped in the early days of building the video team at VEED.
This blog will teach you what I've learned but first I want to be brutally honest with what this blog is not.
I'm not a fan of hand-holding when I know you need to learn to get up by falling down. Dominating video means mastering a diverse set of skills. Mastery is a product of time, practice, and perseverance. Unfortunately—telling people how things will inevitably be difficult is not what gets engagement because friction equals more drop-offs.
So usually you see content pitching you on quick and easy ways to do X, Y, Z that aren't really useful.
Yes, you are going to be awkward (as will anyone who is new to something) and even when you get pretty good at it you might still feel scared to post. I say this not to be cruel or a pessimist but because most people new to video hold themselves to unrealistically high standards.
But practice makes progress. So today I have five video content tips I live by that you can begin to practice.
1. Outline your ideas and their execution before recording
Ever make a video and then realize it would’ve been soooo much better if you had thought of doing (insert thing you wish you’d done) before?
It doesn’t matter if you record video content on a shitty webcam or a $2,000 camera. Knowing what to talk about isn't even the biggest concern if this isn't addressed...
Structure and delivery are the most important things to obsess over.
It's not just about what you'll say but:
👉 When will you say it?
👉 How long will you take to say it?
👉 How will editing support the retention of your message?
This is why research and learning how to write better are, in my opinion, the two most important skills every content creator should focus on regardless of which content format they gravitate towards.
Before I make a video there's always some degree of light to heavy planning (depending on the content format’s complexity and estimated video duration).
For videos under 60 seconds, I like making bullet points on a sticky note to remind me of the order I want to touch on things. Although these shorter videos still require some research, I find if I over plan a short video I overthink things that aren't thaaat important.
Generally, I like to keep shorter videos down to a simpler process and use them for testing topics with the potential for a deep dive.
For videos longer than one minute, here's what I do to create an outline.
STEP 1 Research: What works, why, and what's my angle?
When I dig into a topic I'm interested in, I find answers to these questions:
- Is there proven demand for this topic?
- Can I bring my own original angle to it?
- What are people already searching and asking about this online?
- On average, how lengthy are the videos already published on this topic?
- What's working and not working for others? Am I spotting any patterns?
- What did competitors miss that might give me a different angle to make this better?
- Besides the meat of the video–what do good thumbnails look like? Captions and descriptions?
But what if you're making a YouTube video?
YouTube is a tad more complex because you have to think of video SEO. When you research, look up keywords that can help shape the outline of chapters in your video.
You want to make sure you:
- Incorporate these terms in your outline in a way that sounds natural
- Outline chapters in your description with time stamps
- Create and upload an SRT file
Little details like that can help your video rank as a featured video on Google.
STEP 2 Outline ideas: how can I organize what needs to be said to retain viewership?
Not all pieces are outlined the same. Shorter videos tend to follow a looser structure where I prefer making bullet points on a sticky note. Longer videos are more complex so I'll make a g-doc with talking points, edits, effects, and b-roll planning.
I like to use a google doc to keep my video ideas structured and speech natural. If it's a YouTube video, make sure you plug in a few related keywords that shape out the chapters of your video. This will come in handy for your video SEO.
Script-wise, I usually prefer to note what I want to touch on rather than script word for word. You'll know what's best for you by trial and error.
I create a table with two columns:
- The ideas I'll cover in order of which I'll mention them
- Editing notes for each idea segment (b-roll, suggested edits, sound effects)
This brings me to...
STEP 3) Map Out Audio, Effects, and B-Roll: How will my edits support the delivery, retention, and engagement of my message?
(2/2) Literally EVERY SECOND counts with video content.— Diana Briceño (@dianagetssocial) September 23, 2021
Here's how to start making the most of it.
1. Pitch your topic to reel in viewers
2. State the solutions to retain them
3. Immediately dive into the value
4. Make a simple ask for your CTA pic.twitter.com/Hv1th1H5rX
It's easier to record a winning video when you've thought about how you'll approach editing. A great video starts with research and outlining. But how you edit is also key to getting the most watch time and overall engagement.
Keep in mind, not every video needs to go "all-out" in terms of the edits.
- An Instagram story might benefit from some simply zooming in/out with your camera as you state key points you want to emphasize + interactive stickers
- A YouTube video will tend to be more complex with edits such as sound effects, animations, voiceovers, video-on-video overlays, etc
Look at your outline and think about what would enhance your video? Think of it in terms of how can an audio, effect, or shot of b-roll support your visual and auditory storytelling? Just like in writing you edit out the fluff, think of what you add/subtract from a video similarly.
Add and remove things with a purpose in mind. If it doesn't make the content better then don't do it.
STEP 4) Record: Shoot your video!
I'm a firm believer that the majority of people planning to incorporate video misplace their focus on gear. You can buy the most high-end stuff but if you lack the principles of a strong foundation the $2,000+ camera can't help you.
I've always kind of hated the obsession with buying these things (unless you're a video production or media company) so I won't dig too much into this.
In fact, in the first year or so of running the YouTube channel at VEED our #1 video was literally shot on a webcam. That's evidence sometimes people often overcomplicate and overproduce content.
But if you do care for these things and have some money for helpful basics then you can't go wrong with getting yourself:
- a camera that can shoot in 4K if you're on YouTube (otherwise your phone is enough)
- a backdrop where you have a nice contrast (or just a solid color wall)
- 1 point or 2 point lighting setup
- a good sturdy tripod
- a microphone
You just really don't need these to get started.
Good content principles + your phone's camera will take you further than a big upfront investment in gear. Obsess over the things that can be built not bought and you will future-proof yourself with valuable skills that'll serve you in the long run.
STEP 5) Edit your video
Thanks to your planning and outline, you’ll find editing is much quicker when you mapped things out beforehand.
The tool you use to edit is not magic. People tend to focus on what the best tool is rather than understand what they are and are not willing to learn.
For example, if you just want to make great video and not invest too much time into learning a complex tool like Adobe Premiere and After Effects then VEED is best for you. With VEED you don't have to be an expert to make great video content.
But if you're more of a professional YouTuber looking for more advanced creative control over your edits, audio, and color then the Adobe CC would be best for you.
And if you're someone who just wants to edit the occasional video while on the go and for free then Instagram and TikTok's built-in editing tools are best for you (or a free mobile app from the app store like InShot).
2. Use pattern interrupt for better viewer retention
Usually, we have about 2.7 seconds before people drop off and after the 10-second mark around 20% of viewers give up. The fact is we're ruthless every day making split-second decisions when skipping a story or video post on your feed.
This is where good video structure + editing (thanks to pattern interrupt) come to save the day...or in this case...retention.
I always skip Instagram stories of people who ramble for what seems like forever with no text or caption sticker over their video, no effects, nothing. But maybe what they’re saying isn't actually boring. Their delivery and editing are what make the content boring because it’s so monotonous.
So to break boring monotony you need pattern interrupt. Pattern interrupt is any change in a video that helps refocus your audience's attention.
Pattern interrupt can be as simple as a subtle zoom in/zoom out to an animated text overlay with some fancy sound effect and filter. It’s something that breaks the pattern of whatever is going on. And psychologically speaking, it fools our brains into thinking we’re consuming some fresh content.
3. Before you create a high production-value video validate the idea with a low-production value post
Let’s think of content as a meal.
🥂 Drinks (Low Production Value)
Simple value-filled posts that are quick and easy to make like handing a dinner guest a glass of wine.
- A single-image feed post on Instagram
- A batch of Instagram stories
- LinkedIn status update
🥗 Appetizers (Medium Production Value)
Content that takes a bit more effort to produce like a small bite to eat. Follow up drinks with an appetizer.
- Instagram carousels
- Instagram Reels
- Twitter threads
🥘 Main Course (High Production Value)
These are formats that take significantly more time and effort to plan, record, and edit. After drinks and appetizers comes the main course!
- YouTube Videos or any videos that are about 3+ minutes long
- Blog content or downloadables
- Podcast content
- Slide decks
This is what will tell you what’s worth investing more time into. And this is also what will reveal additional questions people might have that your “main course” should include.
Note: You won't necessarily always start content from low to high production value. But it's a helpful framework if you don't know what's worth your focus or to test the waters of a big content idea you might want to produce.
4. Talk like you speak
People read too much into what to sound like on certain platforms and end up sounding like anything but themselves.
In my opinion—it's both easier and better, in the long run, to be consistent in your voice and adapt the topics to the platform. Just because other marketers say you should sound a certain way because you're on LinkedIn vs YouTube it doesn't mean they're right.
Should do this, should do that, so many should, should, shoulds...whatever.
Pretend you’re talking to a friend, a close co-worker, or even leaving yourself a voice note. Not only does this alleviate the tension of what you feel you “should” sound like but it makes your content easier to understand.
You'll waste years trying to sound like someone you're not whereas you'll invest months into learning to talk on camera like you normally talk when not on camera (and then just post it).
I highly suggest you start talking to yourself.
Narrate what you're doing whether you're writing a job description, scrubbing sticky rice off your dishes, or trying to reason with yourself over what you'll do next. Do it as if you're doing a tutorial of your every step.
Practicing speaking out loud has helped me pick up on how I tend to vocalize my thoughts. In writing, new writers tend to overuse the word "that" and in video you'll find you have some connector words you might overuse.
Incorporate more natural pauses when you talk to people in real-time
I'm a naturally anxious person and sometimes this makes me talk too fast or rush to start replying. I struggle with this a lot in fact.
This is actually somewhat of a new lesson in this guide. I began practicing this toward the end of 2021.
I noticed some people I admire are not rushing from sentence to sentence. You can feel the natural pauses as they communicate ideas. And in a way, the calmness they convey from their more collected style of communication exudes confidence.
I often feel like our world is moving at 1,000 miles per hour and it inevitably makes my brain and my speech attempt to catch up. The practice of taking more natural pauses to be more intentional with every word helps me communicate better but also relieves some of my anxiousness.
This practice will pay off the most when you do live videos since you cannot edit yourself in real-time.
5. Pause in between sentences and ideas for easier editing
The previous tip to pause is not only good for clarity but also for easier edits!
Here's how to make it look like you can talk on video for a long time without getting tongue-tied.
- Take a pause before moving on to the next sentence or idea.
- Repeat steps 1-2 until your video is done.
- Load your video onto your video editor
- Look at the audio waves and cut out all the parts where there is a pause
- Now you have a smooth video that looks like you spoke for who knows how long without messing up.
This tip has made editing my content 500X easier!
Let's recap the lessons
- Outline your ideas and their execution before recording
- Use pattern interrupt for better viewer retention
- Before you create a high-production-value video validate the idea with a low-production value post
- Talk like you speak
- Pause in between sentences and ideas for easier editing
Remember, you can't master something without starting with what you have now so you can learn from mistakes as you go. I promise it'll feel more natural the more you do this daily (or weekly).