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Three Questions You Should Ask Before Starting Your Video

Three Questions You Should Ask Before Starting Your Video

Learn the three questions you should ask before even picking up a camera. In this episode, Laura and Rhonda will help you figure out your first steps after deciding to start a video project.


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Laura: When you have an idea for a video, it's really easy to get excited to grab a camera, your phone, and just hit record, but that isn't always the most effective or efficient way to get the most from your idea. Everything you do before hitting record has a big impact on the final product. And the good news is that there are three simple questions that will help you create a plan for a successful video. And that's what we're gonna be talking about today.

Welcome to CloseUp: Decoding Video Production for Your Business. My name is Laura McElree, and I'm joined by Rhonda Patzlsberger for this episode.

Rhonda: Hello.

Laura: Hi. So the type of video that you are going to produce is going to dictate how much pre-production you're gonna need, right? Bigger more complex videos need more planning, obviously. But when you break it down, no matter what the size of your video is or what it's even going to be used for, there are three basic questions that you need to ask yourself when you start the pre-production process. And the first question, Rhonda, is who is your audience.

Rhonda: Yes, big, seems like the obvious question, right?

Laura: Yeah

Rhonda: And you know, truly understanding who your audience is, is the most important thing. It's really obvious, but I think it takes some thought and some care to really, truly dive into that. The more detail you can provide around who they are and where and how they're watching, the better. So, I guess I'll start with the who. I mean, obviously you want to know who they are, but how narrowly can you define your audience, and maybe I'll give an example. Is the video, for example, intending to target people who are mostly, let's say, 25 to 35-year-olds. They're buying life insurance for the first time. That's a really great detail to share with your producer, and think because you've thought about your audience, you know who you're targeting. Or you know, on the other hand, is it more broader? Are they just people making big financial decisions? I mean, that kind of information informs what kind of style you're doing. It tells us about the who, and then we can better identify the visuals and the words that will grab your viewer's attention. And then, we really think about how and where they're watching. It's not just important who they are, but what environment are they in when they're seeing the video. And that's really great to know because, you know, there's so many different viewing experiences today. For example, you watch a video, a YouTube video. You're on your laptop. It's just you. The laptop's screen is very focused, singular experience. Just a really intimate thing. You probably have somebody's attention. But then compare that to say you want the video to play at a trade show. Many of us have, you know, been to busy trade shows. It's noisy. There's

Laura: There's everything everywhere. There's all kinds of distractions.

Rhonda: Lights, distractions, products, and your video's playing there. Well, you want really big impactful visuals. Your audio, your narration track might not get heard in that busy environment. So, if we know it's for a busy trade show, we'll think about that differently and rely on more those high-impact visuals.

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Laura: The other question that a person needs to ask themselves is what do you want to achieve? What's your objective? What do you want people to get out of this?

Rhonda: You know, I love that question because we all know that video is such a great tool now. Though if you use it strategically, you can accomplish great things. So, I always say think about what you want your viewers to think or feel or do right after they watch the video. Sometimes I make people boil it down into what's the three key takeaways you want them to have. But that think, feel, and do that's really what you're focusing on.

Laura: Could you give me an example?

Rhonda: Sure. You know, let's say your goal is increasing brand awareness. You want to get your company's name out there and what you do. You want viewers to think of your brand as credible. You want them to feel confident when they're watching the video that your company's the best at what you do. And that think and feel is pretty obvious. The do part is a little more subtle. What you want them to do really is to become more aware. To start elevating, you know, who you are in their mind. Those details can form the look. You might want to use some higher quality production tools, some nice cameras to give your company that very solid, very confident kind of feel in this video. You know, on the other hand, let's say your objective is to embed the video on a website landing page. You have a clear strategy that you want to accomplish. The think and feel, you want them to think and feel motivated after they watch this video to immediately do something really explicit.

Laura: Push that button. Fill out that form.

Rhonda: Exactly. You want that call to action then in that video to really invite them to do that. You've structured your video in a way that's maybe a little shorter, maybe a very direction message. And then do this thing. You know, tell us more about yourself. Fill out this form. So, that kind of gives you a range of different objectives. And it's really important to share that objective when you're in your pre-production meetings with your producer about that. And, also share how you're going to measure success. Is it click-through rate? Is it, you know, some other metric? So, really be transparent about that because you're both working together to really achieve some really great objectives.

Laura: So, we've talked about who the audience is. We've talked about objectives. How do you use those answers moving forward? You know what you want to do. You know who you're talking to. How are you gonna get the most out of your investment now?

Rhonda: In my experience, you get the most out of your investment by all that careful planning in pre-production. And, you know, we'll go into this in future episodes, but I personally think that pre-production phase is the most important. You want to plan and lay out a timeline and a workflow about how you plan to produce the video, how you plan to edit it. Everything needs to be planned, and that will kind of set you up for success when you're rolling the cameras and later editing that footage.


Laura: What is that planning involve?

Rhonda: It's a number of steps, and these steps are not inclusive. They're not always in every video production. But it typically involves, obviously, getting together, meeting with your producer, brainstorming, collaborating on ideas, thinking of a style and a look, kind of going over your budget. What you guys want to do. What you have the funds to do. if your video is gonna have a narrator, let's say, it involves writing a concise script, and writing for the spoken word. Not writing it in print style. So, make sure that you write a script in a clear, concise way that really rings true to somebody's ears as they're watching, and very conversational style. It might involve scouting locations and coming up with a storyboard that really shows you on paper how this script is going to come to life. It could involve interview questions, composing those questions, giving them to people to kind of help them prepare and feel confident when they're sitting down to be interviewed because being in an interview situation

Laura: It can be intimidating.

Rhonda: It can be. It can be when the cameras and the lights are on. So, when they feel confident that they've thought about the answers. And, also, building out a production schedule. Particularly, on these more complex productions. And, this is basically an hour-by-hour timeline. What are we shooting? Which scene is this? And do we have to move the equipment? And, you know, really coming up with a logical efficient way to get as much footage as you can and not waste time or money waiting around for things to happen. So, I guess throughout the pre-preproduction phase, we're always meeting, collaborating, trying to find ways to do more, get more for you. And, you know, we can build in opportunities to capture additional footage, bonus material. During an interview, we can find a way to ask an additional question that might be used for another video or it might be used for something else. So, kind of finding ways also to plan in the extras, the nice-to-haves, if there's time. And then, you know, obviously, you can use this for social media content or little clips or something later on. So, you can really maximize what you get out of like one production day. All that happens during the pre-production planning process.

Laura: It sounds like that's probably one of the biggest things that you need to take into consideration when you're starting your video.

Rhonda: Yeah. I think the projects that go off the smoothest are the ones where we've really sat down and spent some time walking through the details before we ever pick up a camera or sit in an edit room.

Laura: You might think that, okay, I've got the camera let's go. Then you might have to pick up the camera again. And again. And again.

Rhonda: Yes.

Laura: Thanks Rhonda. Let's recap all of this here. The three questions you need to ask yourself when you want to start a video project to prevent having to get the camera out again and again and again. Who's your audience? What do you want to achieve? And how do you get the most out of your investment? And after going through these questions, you should have a bit of a roadmap that you and your production partner can now follow to create your script, the storyboard, the production schedule, all the other parts that are involved with this.

If you want to learn even more about planning and the pre-production process, we do have a budget and planning guide available to download at You can find the link in the shownotes and some other resources that could come in handy. You can also visit our website to learn more.

This is CloseUp: Decoding Video Production for Your Business. If you like what you're hearing, remember to subscribe and leave us a review. If you have any questions you'd like us to answer, send us an email. We'll answer them for you.

CloseUp is produced by Plum Media. For Rhonda, I'm Laura McElree. Thanks for listening.