When people approach me with an idea for a video that they have, often times they begin on the right track. They have a vision, an overall idea of the content in which they want to speak about, and have a general aesthetic that they’re going for. But often times they’ll completely overestimate the final length of the video. Last month I was meeting with a guy who has an idea for a product he wants to sell, and when I asked him how long he wanted these videos to be, he said, “Probably ten to twelve minutes.”
Think about this: when was the last time you, as a consumer, watched a ten to twelve minute video? Probably not too recently. That’s borderline infomercial length and completely unnecessary in our culture and day of age when it’s hard to make it to the end of a 60-second Instagram video. The fact of the matter is that we don’t have the time to sit down and watch a ten-minute video online. There are other things that are continually competing for our attention – a related video in YouTube’s sidebar, a Facebook post, an email, kids – the list goes on. So why take ten minutes to say what you can say in a quarter the amount of time?
There’s a thought that dates back to Aerostatle known as the Aristotelian “triptych”. It goes something like, “Tell them what you’re going to say. Say what you’re going to say. Tell them what you said.” This idea that Aerostatle came up with 2400 years ago is still effective in lectures and presentations to this day and widely used because it’s effective. Yes, it’s a somewhat vague framework but when you begin to think of video content within these terms, you begin to eliminate much of the fluff.
Tell them what you're going to say. Say it. Tell them what you said.
For example, let’s say you’re name is John and you have a new bike pedal company. Your bike pedal needs a video to reach other people who may be a potential buyer. In the video, you don’t need to go into great detail about how your great uncle helped Wilbur and Orville Wright design the first bicycle and you don’t need to talk about how you took that semester off in college and biked across America. Lead with simplicity – “Hi, I’m John and I created this patented bike pedal that I’d like to tell you about.”
Why? Because anything more than this and you’re only allowing for a greater risk that the viewer gets distracted or worse, turns the video off. When you include a long introduction to your video, the video is only taking longer and longer to get to the point of what the actual video is about. Allow for the audience to get to the content and don’t squander that by leading into your video with a long introduction that they honestly probably won’t remember.
Once you’ve told them what you’re going to talk about, tell them what you’re going to say. This is the true content of the matter, or in this scenario where John talks about his bike pedal. This is where you hit on all the main points that you want the audience to walk away with. Why did you create a bike pedal? Why should I buy your bike pedal over the other bike pedals on the market? Aren’t all pedals the same? As the person informing the viewer in the video, you need to be able to answer all of these and should answer all of them. Again, don’t get off track with some long-winded answer or story in these answers.
Allow for the audience to get to the actual content and make that content good.
Once you’ve made it through the pitch or the general content of the video, tell them again what you’ve told them. This can be short and sweet – “We believe this is the best bike pedal on the market for these three reasons…” Reiterate the main points of content that you really want the viewer to walk away with and leave it at that.
Let them want to know more about the product or service. Have them Google it or search for a YouTube review of your product – let them go to your FAQs on your website if you think they’ll have questions. It’s completely fine to leave things unsaid as long as you feel as if you’ve put your best points forward.
Lastly, and this isn’t something that always needs to happen, but leave them with a call to action. Tell the viewer a website they can visit if they want more information, or a newsletter they can sign up for so they won’t miss updates. When you leave them wanting more, they’ll be more inclined to follow through with that call to action.