How to Create Good Video Content

Learn the quick and dirty tips you need for creating a winning video.

Lisa B. Marshall,
June 4, 2010
Episode #094

Today video contests are becoming very popular. Even though the prizes can be quite good, research shows that very few people enter video contests. In today's article, learn how to create great content so you can win some great stuff.

I have been thinking about video contests for the past few months. First, because we’ve been talking about creating a video contest for you (The Public Speaker and MarshallWolfe) readers and second, because my family has been thinking about entering a few contests. So, over the holiday weekend we finally took the plunge and decided to enter a video contest!

Today’s article about my experience entering a video contest is the first in a series. The next installment will cover how to quickly and easily make your video

How to Create Good Video Content

The first step in creating good video content is to view the video project as a fun activity.  Think of it as something you will enjoy doing. If, like me, you’re entering a video contest with your family, think of it as something that will create laughter and lasting family memories. Don't focus on the prize! Instead focus on making the experience fun. It's going to eat up time (a lot of time) so, as with all things, have fun with the process.
If you are having fun while making the video, it will show in your face and in your voice. Remember with all “performances” the audience wants a “Bob Seger” experience. (You might remember from a previous article on the secret to great public speaking, that’s when you enjoy something so much your passion just reeks out of you!) So my first tip is to focus on having fun!

Read the Video Contest Rules

Once you’ve decided to enter a contest. Be sure to read the rules. Then, read them again. Carefully! You may even want to take notes. Are there any restrictions on the format? Length? File size?

With video it's likely that you will be using images and music, so be sure that you have the proper copyright permissions for whatever you choose to incorporate into your video. Don’t get disqualified because you picked copyrighted music or pictures, or submitted a file in the wrong format.

Understand the Voting Criteria & Timing

Next, be sure you understand who is selecting or voting for the winning video, the criteria for selection, and when the voting occurs. If the general public is voting, then create something with general appeal. Kids (multiples in particular), pets, and nature often have general appeal. Try to create something that’s funny, that’s sweet, that’s cute, and that has a serious moment. A nice combination of ALL of those emotions together is your goal.

If a company is sponsoring and judging the winner, you’ll need to be sure your video ties directly to the stated themes or guidelines. You’ll also want to strongly consider including kind words about the company or product--or perhaps even consider product placement in your video. After all, the company is offering the prize in exchange for saying good stuff about their product or services.

Be Authentically Creative

Audiences sense when you are being genuine and that authenticity is extremely appealing.

However, to be clear, I’m not suggesting you lie. Don’t even slightly bend the truth; the viewer will see right through it! Instead, just be yourself. Be who you naturally are and the authenticity will shine through. Audiences sense when you are being genuine and that authenticity is extremely appealing.

Also, be creative and think about how you can make your video different from the rest. For example, in the video my family made over the weekend, we chose to have our six-year-old girls write the text in their own handwriting. Then we had the girls photograph their words. We left in spelling mistakes, cross outs, and pictures that were off-kilter! I wanted it to be obvious the girls were actively engaged in the creation process. In fact, at one point, Daniela just naturally illustrated the words, so we decided to encourage them to add drawings to the other pages. Our hope is that our authentic creativity is what separates our video from the others.

How to Get Started

When you are just getting started with creating your video, I suggest you start by brainstorming a number of ideas. Don’t edit. Give yourself a few minutes to come up with as many ideas as you can. If your kids are involved, involve them in the process.

We very quickly decided the main idea of our video would be “We love Maya because…” Then we brainstormed all the reasons we love her. Maya, by the way, is our au pair.

Create More Than You Need

The next step is to create more content than you need. You’ll want a lot of content because the next step to choose only the best material. You need to learn to edit ruthlessly. If it doesn’t absolutely have to be in the video, then cut it out. Don’t try to cram too much in. Leave only the best material: the best pictures, the best examples, the best music. Make your first draft a little shorter than two and half minutes so you’ll have room to add one or two things back in. Why?

View Your Video with Fresh Eyes

Because the next step is to walk away from the project. Give yourself a break. At least 24 hours later return to the first draft with fresh eyes. The point of the fresh review is to see if anything is missing. During our first draft review we realized we didn’t have a strong enough opening or closing. We wanted something that would make the viewer smile immediately and we also wanted the viewer to smile as the video ended.

So we brainstormed a few ideas and ultimately decided it would be cute to hear our girls giggle while being tickled by Maya and decided to make that our opening and closing. I think that one change considerably enhanced our video. A strong opening and strong close are critically important to the success of your video. You want to be sure you capture the hearts and minds immediately and leave them with something memorable.

Check out the video yourself and see what you think. 

Next week, I’ll share quick and dirty techniques to actually make the video. I’ll focus on technology tools and techniques you can use to quickly create a video of reasonably high quality.

This is, Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker. Passionate about communication, your success is my business.

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Woman Taking Video image courtesy of Shutterstock