Watch lots of videos and make notes of the things you like.

Is your organization using video to get attention? Does you have a video strategy in place? If not, it’s time to integrate video into your communications plan.

Most of you already have the most important piece of equipment to do so: The video camera on your smartphone. Following are a few tips for using the device you already have to create quality videos to impress clients, donors, and your community.

  1. Watch other people’s videos and take notes about what you like and don’t like about them. How long are they? How do they capture your attention? How do they keep your attention? What kind of soundtrack do they have? Do they include graphics or animation?
  2. Working from your notes, sit down and write a script for your video. That way, you’ll be sure to cover all your points without forgetting something crucial.
  3. Whether you or someone else is doing the talking on-camera, the speaker needs to practice and memorize the script. Don’t read from a piece of paper in the video.
  4. Hand-held video can be wobbly, which is distracting and looks amateurish. Get an inexpensive tripod or, at the very least, prop your phone on something that doesn’t move.
  5. Make sure the subject is well-lit, preferably with natural lighting, because office fluorescents can make them look green. The easiest way is to position the subject with a window in front or to the side, and just out of the frame. Beware of backlighting — don’t seat your subject in front of a window or desk lamp.
  6. Think about what you want in the background. It doesn’t have to be a blank wall, but be aware that viewers are paying attention to the background, so use it carefully and effectively.

    Cartoon of woman standing in front of bathroom
    Be careful of unwanted items in your video background.
  7. Use an off-camera microphone. There are lots of choices on the market, ranging from simple ones that clip to the phone, lavaliers that clip to the person, or studio mics that sit on the desk. Like tripods, they’re extremely useful and not too expensive.
  8. Be sure your microphone is not picking up a lot of background noise. Even if the setting is fairly quiet, you can be surprised by a leaf blower or sudden fire truck outside. If that happens, take a deep breath and try again — see #9.
  9. Re-record until you get it right. Think of Hollywood, where directors make dozens of “takes” to get a few seconds of the movie the way they want it. You don’t have to use the first take, either. Enjoy the process, and think of the humorous bloopers you could create!
  10. Hire a video producer like 3 Choices Creative Communications to add professional touches, like an animated intro and outro with your logo and tagline, titles, and background music. For examples of our work, take a look at the Aim for Action video.  Mention this blog post for a 15% discount on your first project.

    cartoon of video title
    Hire a video producer to create professional titles and intros.
10 tips for creating professional videos with your smartphone
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