Using video to communicate to your customers—potential or otherwise—makes sense. Videos convey a lot of information in a short amount of time and can connect with people in ways that a written article or a still image simply cannot.
But how do you make sure your videos are reaching and engaging your audience?
There’s a simple trap that is easy to fall into: You assume you have the viewer’s attention because, “It’s a video, right?” So based on that assumption, you should cram every bit of information you can into those precious three minutes, or whatever your run time is.
Actually, no. While I appreciate the natural instinct to try to explain everything thoroughly, that instinct starts with one bad assumption: “I have the viewer’s attention.”
With the sheer amount of content on the internet, no one owes you their attention, and no one is going to give it freely. You have to earn it, to fight for it.
One key way to do that: Focus.
Find your focus
Focus is the idea of narrowing down your video’s topic to make one key point or one takeaway.
According to best-selling author and entrepreneur Neil Patel, keeping videos short is a way to increase viewer retention, but that also goes along with simply getting to the point very swiftly—especially in a competitive viewing environment such as YouTube or web browsing, when people’s time on a particular page is limited if you don’t immediately grab their attention.
Author Doug Stevenson suggests, “If you don’t know what the point is … you can go off on tangents that lead to tangents that end up in a cul-de-sac of confusion and lost attention. When you sit down to develop your story, you need to start with the point in mind.” And Ana Gotter says that you must choose one simple concept to maximize impact and retain viewers.
The point is that focus is going to help grab viewers in the first place and then keep them around. If you fail to define and deliver your focus—instead cram your video full of multiple tangents and talking points—you’re either going to leave people confused and missing the most important details, or just clicking away and skipping your video entirely.
Figure out the direction of your video content
Start by nailing down your objectives and what that means for the purpose of your video. The more specific, the more effective that video will be in communicating that point.
Video is often a starting point for people exploring a topic, a service or a product. It grabs people’s attention—or at least it should. You simply cannot accomplish that by viewing your video as an information dump. You want to keep viewers long enough to get across your most important details, but keep in mind it’s OK for them to finish your video eager to find out more. That’s where a call to action to get more details from a website or contact person comes into play.
So what information do you keep, and what do you leave out? A video focus statement helps you decide. The sharper your statement is, the better.
For example, let’s say you have a new loyalty program for your business, and you want to get across the key benefits the viewer will receive by joining that program. Your instincts might tell you to fill your video with a laundry list of every single benefit, but that won’t make for an effective video. It’s much easier to zero in on one highly appealing aspect of the program, tell that story thoroughly, and deliver a clear call to action for people who want to learn more.
That’s true whether you’re telling a story, promoting a product, profiling a person or more. When you’re scripting and strategizing, avoid the urge to do everything. Instead, choose one aspect of a story to tell, and tell it with clarity.
Get focused. Show people enough to whet their appetite, to capture their interest, and then push them forward to the next step.