Make 2017 a Year of True Engagement

Video is the new document.

Video is the new document.

At the start of each year, many of our clients are tasked with reaching out across their enterprises to make sure employees are up-to-date with policies and guidelines ranging from codes of conduct, to the brave, still a bit new, world of social media policies and guidelines. If your team is still only issuing these types of mission critical, corporate culture reinforcing documents, 2017 could be the year you up your game and achieve true employee engagement.

Adding a video element to policies and guidelines that require not only annual updates, but also annual dissemination across a broad base of employees, and in most cases key stakeholders, can truly change the level of impact and retention of the expectations set forth in each policy. Think about it, if your social media guidelines were distributed this year across all employees as a video from your founder, CEO or president don’t you think you’d get their attention (and keep it) in a more meaningful way than if you simply had your communications or HR team issue a PDF via e-mail with a deadline by which it had to be reviewed and signed electronically?

As we’ve written in this space, “video is the new document.”

Consult with your video production team on ideas on how to turn your policies and guidelines into “on demand” videos or even trackable, interactive training modules. It’ll set you up for a truly successful new year.

In the meantime, please let me know if there are any topics you’d like me to cover. Talk to you next Friday. 

Save Money - It’s the One Resolution we can Help you Keep

Cash in the bank.


First, Happy New Year to all. Hope everyone had a great holiday season. We were hard at work and play, as I’m sure you were. Now, with no warning and like I’m hearing from many of you, 2017 started in full stride.

So let’s get right to it.

Saving money, losing weight — the two most universal New Year’s resolutions, and two of the easiest to break. After one week, we’re afraid we still can’t help you with the weight loss. As our clients know, there’s an obsessed baker on our team that makes truly world-class chocolate chip cookies. BUT, when it comes to saving money for our clients, we’ve got it down to a science. Sort of like baking.

One of our resolutions for 2017 is to continue to counsel our clients on tactics that yield a strong return on investment. In order for a corporate video production to be considered a success it must not only convey the key messages our clients need to disseminate, but the actual production must be affordable, delivered on time and on budget. One of the most common mistakes we help our clients avoid involves both of these key elements: time and money. The potential misstep can be summed up as, “Pay now, or pay more later.” Saving time on a shoot will never result in less time spent in an edit suite. And, as we all know, time is money. It’s really that simple, and we take the time to make sure our clients understand that what might seem like a logical request that should result in efficiencies is anything but that. What that means is we often find ourselves on a shoot with clients who, understandably, are very sensitive to time spent away from their offices. When a shoot day draws to an end and there’s perhaps one last shot to get we’re often asked by clients to wrap the shoot and fill in the missing shot in editing. There are few absolutes in life, but this is one of them. Offer us a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie and you’ll see our resolve melt in front of your eyes. However, ask our team to do something that will cost you more in the long run and we remain steadfastly committed to keeping your resolutions for 2017 on track.

Looking forward to sharing more tips and tricks of our trade with you in the New Year. Please let me know if there are any topics you’d like me to cover. And, in the mean time,share your favorite cookie recipe with us! I’m always looking for new tastes, textures and flavors to share along with the knowledge we’ve picked up along the way.

The Final of Our Top Five - Outline It…

We’ve come to the final nugget in our top five tips on how to look like a pro on camera. Over the past four Fridays, we’ve covered: a conversational bridge, flags, body language, sound bites and today, the outline.

To begin, let’s map out the framework of a good outline. It consists of:

 

  • Introduction
  • Main points – Sound like an opportunity to use a flag? You’re spot on.
  • Transitions – Remember those bridges? This is where they come into play.
  • Conclusion(s) – Distill them into sound bites.

When our team works with on-camera subject matter experts we counsel them on starting with a good outline. We’ve learned time and again that a good on-camera delivery starts with a solid outline. Regardless of whether we’re writing a full script, or guiding the discussion with talking points: formulating a solid outline is key. With this foundation, the messages that need to be conveyed on camera are not only heard loud and clear, but the supporting facts and figures germane to the subject are sure to be covered. The process of creating the structure of an outline is also an opportunity for our team to probe into what’s really important in the messaging. We work closely with our clients to get to the core of the “who, what, where, when, why and how” of each production. An outline breaks down key elements and sorts them out for all involved.

Clearly clarifying your value proposition is truly the start and the finish line for the use of all of the top five tips we’ve been dispensing for the past few weeks.

Talk to you next week. If you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address all you have to do is ask. Or, maybe send me an outline of what you’d like me to tackle.

The Fourth of Our Top Five - The Art of the Sound Bite...

We’re fast approaching the last of our top five tips on how to look like a pro on camera. Last week we covered body language. Have you talked with your hands since? Here’s the link if you want to practice. This week we’re covering the art of the sound bite. It’s another of the “go to” tips we use to coach our on-camera subject matter experts.

Thanks to Hamlet we all know that, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” It also happens to be the key to the kingdom when it comes to effectively getting your crucial messages across in a video.

With that in mind, here’s a mantra you need to turn to, and return to, each time you are asked to speak. Be mindful of whether you are “clear, concise and cogent.” Note, this approach is also highly effective in negotiations of all types — one tip, oh so many beneficial uses.

Paint a picture with your sound bites. If your audience can see it, they’ll remember it. Use analogies to paint pictures. If you’re approaching the end of a project, thank your employees, and tell them you’re “Nearing the finish line.”

Steve Jobs was known as a master of analogies. Lest we forget, "desktop" is an analogy. Jobs used it to calm new user discomfort with the virtual world. He associated the new graphical user interface paradigm with something tangible, mundane, and simple, such as, the top of a desk.

When our team works with on camera subject matter experts we counsel them on forming sound bites that condense their key messages. We interview them well in advance of putting them in front of our cameras. We draw out the details and messages that need to be heard loud and clear. We then help them distill these messages into sound bites that paint a picture and yet still sound like “them.”

Once again, I challenge you to look for good public speakers and deconstruct what they do that makes them effective communicators. You’ll start to hone in on their sound bites. Learn from those that are effortlessly clear, concise and cogent.

Stop by next week for the final one of our top five tips. In the mean time, remember the mantra ... be the mantra ... “Clear, concise and cogent.” And, if you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address all you have to do is ask (in 15 words or less). Talk to you next Friday.

The Third of Our Top Five - Making Faces…

Last week we covered conversational flags – have you flown one since? Here’s the link  if you want to review last week’s blog. This week, we’re covering what to do with your face… your hands… and other tricky body parts that can inadvertently send a message counter to what you’re actually saying on camera. It’s another of our “go to” tips we use to coach our on-camera subject matter experts.

Let’s start with your face. In modern psychology there’s a condition known as cognitive dissonance. It’s defined as, “the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual holding two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time.” Our team applies that term to anyone on camera who is emoting one feeling, while verbally delivering a message opposite to that emotion. For example, if your CEO is genuinely thanking your workforce for an outstanding year he should look pleased. However, if he looks as if he’s mentally computing the square root of pi while saying it; that’s a problem. It’s going to impact your audience’s ability to process his intended message.

Your facial expressions must match the intent of your actual message. Otherwise, you have a visual type of cognitive dissonance resulting in a dilution of your message. If your facial expressions match your message your audience’s ability to receive, retain and act on that message is increased exponentially.

Now let’s deal with those hands. It’s quite simple. If you’re naturally demonstrative, don’t suppress those hands. If you’re naturally quite still, stay that way. Unless you’re a professional in front of the camera you can’t force a gesture to look natural unless it is. So, stick to what feels like “you.” It’s really that simple.

As for the rest of your posture, see above and repeat. Stand or sit in a way that you would if you were in a meeting, or talking to a colleague in the hall. If you’re hyper-aware of your posture you’ll come off looking like a robot on camera.

Once again this year’s Presidential campaign affords us all a perfect case study for deconstructing the public speakers that are effective, and those that appear to be robotic talking heads. Watch their faces, their hands, and their overall posture. Learn from those making it look effortless.

Stop by next week for the fourth of our top five tips. In the mean time, make faces and watch your hands. And, if you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address all you have to do is ask. Talk to you next Friday.

 

The Second of Our Top Five - Flag it…

Last week we covered conversational bridges — have you built one since? Here’s the link if you want to practice. This week we’re planting a flag. It’s another of our “go to,” most effective tips we use to coach our on-camera subject matter experts.

Just like bridges, the use of a conversational flag is something good communicators use regularly, often without even knowing it. By harnessing the power of the flag and using it strategically, your key messages stand a far better chance of resonating with your audience. And in the end, what really matters is what your audience does with the information you impart. (Heads up you just encountered a flag…)

Here’s how it works. A conversational flag is a useful tool to signal to an audience that what you’re about to convey is important. Think of it as a verbal, gentle poke in the shoulder.

Here are a few examples:

  • The most important take-away from all this is…
  • What’s often overlooked is…
  • In a nutshell…
  • It all boils down to this…
  • What really matters is…

Practice using flags and soon their use will become rote. They’re handy conversational tools for a myriad of uses: making sure a colleague or subordinate knows what’s expected; helping a team stay on course; ensuring a negotiation is headed in the right direction. Wherever a message needs to be heard loud and clear with an audience of one or one thousand, a flag is a tactic that can help. Now that you’re aware of them they’ll start popping up in all sorts of contexts.

Stop by next week for the third of our top five tips.  In the mean time, practice your flags, and if you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address all you have to do is ask. Talk to you next Friday.

The First of Our Top Five - Build a Bridge…

If you’ve ever been asked to present as a subject matter expert on camera for an internal or external video, or are part of the team recruiting those experts, you know it’s no easy feat for anyone involved. Over the course of the next five Fridays we’ll do our best to break down our favorite and most effective tips we use to coach our on-camera experts. We’ve turned them into easy-to-digest, practical exercises for you to share. With just a bit of practice these tips and tricks can make you and your colleagues look, sound, and feel like pros on camera. As a bonus, they’re also excellent skills to deploy when presenting to a live audience, and to keep in your hip pocket when in the throes of a negotiation.

Our list starts with something good communicators use regularly, often without even knowing it, the conversational bridge. Getting it right is a bit of an art, but once you know the formula it becomes rote.

Let’s break it down. A conversational bridge is a useful tool to allow a speaker to avoid a negative question in a live interview. However, it can also be used to avoid awkward or abrupt transitions from one topic to another. They’re particularly useful to have stored in your memory as “go to” phrases when presenting live while not using a tight script. The result is that the messages you need to convey to your audience are delivered in a far more conversational manner.

Another side effect of the use of bridges is the avoidance of “filler words.” We all have them — “right”, “OK” — or in some cases noises — “um,” “uh” — that can distract from your message and, let’s face it, can also erode your credibility. Replace these fillers with a bridge. Think of a bridge as a tight “go to” phrase that gets you from point A to point B. Here are a few examples:

  • It’s also important to remember...
  • Another thing that’s key to TOPIC (whatever you’re discussing) is…
  • Also, keep in mind that…
  • Plus…
  • Not to mention…

Ask a family member or your work wife or husband (come on, we all have them), if you have a filler word, noise, or phrase. We’re betting you do, and it might surprise you. Once you know what it is, begin practicing by swapping this phrase with a bridge. Soon, the use of bridges will become rote.

You know you’ve got it down pat when you begin to notice others using this tactic. As our country chooses its next President, now is a perfect time for you to begin to search for the good communicators out there building conversational bridges.

Stop by next week for the second of our top five tips. In the mean time, practice your bridges, and keep in mind, if you have any other specific issues that you’d like me to address all you have to do is ask. (Did you catch the bridge?) Talk to you next Friday.

‘Tis The Season — of Budgeting

It’s baaaack… love it or hate it, the end of a calendar year brings many reasons to celebrate. It also brings about the annual exercise of budgeting. Good thing we’re carb loading. Plus, this year we’re here to help with a bit of all the give and take, and line item justification that often goes along with the budgeting process. 

If your company already has a solid foundation of use of corporate video production as a method to reach key audiences you’ll still need to have a few “why?” statements in your budget when you include a line item. Or, if you’ve been meaning to leverage video production, but never seem to be able to find the time or budget each year, the same “why/how?” questions apply. Here are key messages that support video production’s return on investment to attach to the line item to include in your budget.

2016 surprised us all with an unprecedented number of severe weather events across the country. From Hurricanes Hermine to Matthew, massive floods in Louisiana, and wild fires in California, Mother Nature is the one unpredictable force that can impact your workforce, customers, and stakeholders in the blink of an eye. Savvy marketers plan and budget for the unpredictable, and are then able to leverage the unexpected. Including a line item in the 2017 budget for video production allows your team to quickly react not only to predicable events that will require messages to be disseminated consistently, and effectively to many key audiences simultaneously, but can also be used for predictable milestones already slotted in a new year. From major trade shows, to new product introductions, and key growth milestones, video production, now more than ever, is a proven return on a communications investment. Even if you simply slot production dollars to cover B-roll collection you’re on your way to having footage you can use for a variety of tactics – from PR, to crisis communications, to customer-facing web and direct e-mail tools. Let 2017 be the year you fully leverage video production for your team. If you don’t assign it a place in your budget, and an event unfolds, you can’t truly leverage it.  

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. We’ll talk to you after the holiday. In the meantime, once you’re out of your tryptophan-induced food coma, if you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address as we approach a new year, just ask. 

 

Bringing Lean Processes to Video Production

Continuous Improvement (CI), Six Sigma, Black Belt Certification – these terms have all become part of business vocabulary. Full Scale Productions’ many clients employ those lean processes. In fact, those and other tools have been the foundation for a way of doing business for decades.

FSP has learned and implemented many of those lean practices in our work as a way to systematically eliminate waste in our business.  In video production “waste” translates into any activity that’s not adding value, and therefore adding time, and more importantly, cost, to a project.

Many people think you “just” point a camera and a video comes out the other end, when, in fact, there is no such word as “just” in video production. There are many complex steps to producing a high quality video that results in correctly targeting the intended audience. Every project we take on – big or small – goes through a formal method for reducing waste.

Our team is trained to approach each project by mapping out key milestones that need to be accomplished in order to meet a deadline on time, on budget with the smoothest workflow. Each step that needs to be accomplished in order to meet milestones is tagged with a date and becomes the framework for our process map. The same method applies whether we have 48 hours or 48 days to produce a video.

We’re a “Lean Team” and that means our clients reap the benefits.

Talk to you next week. If you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address just ask.

B-roll: Gluten-Free & Saves You $$

If you’ve had a corporate video of any type (training, marketing, leadership, trade show, day-in-the-life, etc.) on your “to do” list for several budget seasons but have yet to get it produced, now might be the time to kick start the project by commissioning “B-roll.” It’s a useful tool to have on hand, and can help you pace the investment of video production over several budget seasons, all while reaping benefits year to year.

Let’s start by defining this industry term. “B-roll” is simply a collection of video. It’s generally raw, unedited images and video representing your company’s exterior(s), interior shots, production line(s), final product and/or services. Here’s a little trivia for your next cocktail party. Back in the early days of film, there was an “A” roll that contained all your interviews. B-roll was everything else you shot that does not contain speaking roles and it's just as valuable in the final, edited piece for those who know how to leverage its many uses.

B-roll serves several valuable purposes. First, ask any PR professional worth their salary and they’ll tell you that B-roll can often be the factor that causes you to get TV news coverage, or be overlooked for a story. Assignment desk editors are particularly receptive to companies that pitch stories or local angles on national stories IF you can help them with images, and preclude the need for them to send their own crew to collect footage — which TV news also refers to as… yes, that’s right ... “B-roll.” By providing B-roll with your pitch you are upping your chances of coverage exponentially. Savvy companies also make their footage available for download in a searchable, online gallery (also known as a "Media Reel").

Secondly, by working with a video production company to shoot B-roll you can slot budget dollars in one fiscal year to cover that shoot knowing that ultimately you’ll also want to use it as the foundation for a corporate video.

When our team works with clients who are pacing their investment, we’re sure to tease-out the needs of the final piece and make sure what we capture in the B-roll will ultimately all be of use down the road in any future piece.

So really, what’s stopping you from slotting a B-roll shoot in your next budget season?   

Talk to you next week. If you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address all you have to do is ask. In the mean time, give some thought to what opportunities you could be missing by not having B-roll of your company on hand today.