Make It Happen
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How fast can you “consume” content? Or better yet, how quickly can you scan it?  Likely pretty quickly, if you are reading.

Since most people consume by scanning – not reading – experienced bloggers (and website writers) understand the need to chunk content into smaller bits:

  • Headings and subheadings
  • Short paragraphs
  • Bullets and lists
  • Judicial use of bold and italics
  • Pictures and diagrams

But what about video? Unlike the written word, it is almost impossible to scan a video and get any value from it. At best, a video scan helps a user find their place: at worst, it is an exercise in frustration. But does it have to be such a low-value experience?  Is there a way to impregnate your video with value, knowing full well that the user might merely be a scanner?

Here are six ways to do this:

  1. Agenda: Right at the beginning, ensure the user knows what the video contains, either by saying it, or using a background or overlay. If they know the order of the content, they may be able to skip to it more efficiently.
  2. Summary: Like an agenda, a summary near the beginning and the end of the video means that the user is more likely to be exposed to the entire message. A bulleted list (with audio), an overlay, or even a spoken word summary can do this.
  3. Lower Third Overlay: Identify sections of the video by using an overlay that stays on the lower portion of the screen for a longer period of time. When a user scans through the video, a shorter overlay may not actually be seen.
  4. Use Quality Metadata: Conventional wisdom now suggests using key words within the metadata to aid in searches. The Metadata (description and video summary) can also include the start time for each major section of the video, thereby allowing the user to directly navigate to the most relevant content.
  5. Multiple Call to Actions: To improve the likelihood that the viewer will actually do something, you cannot count on them getting to the end of the video to see the call to action. Instead, share the call to action several times throughout the clip, using several different techniques: verbally, with a scene change, with an overlay.
  6. Multiple videos: Sometimes the reason for scanning a video can be traced back to a mismatch between the goal of the user (“I want a quick overview,” or “I want a specific piece of information”) and the goal of the video producer (“This is an interview format” or “This is a recording of an event.”)  Consider producing several videos, all with the same goal, but in different lengths: a 60-second quick hit, 3-minute key points, 10-minute summary, and 60-minute deep-dive. In this way (hopefully) the user will choose a format that does not require scanning.

This week’s action plan: While these suggestions might help you while wearing your producer’s hat, what if you are the video consumer? How can you quickly scan important video content?  Here’s one idea that might help: If you are using a browser that supports “HTML5” (which means almost all browsers nowadays) and are watching a video on YouTube, look for the video “speed” controls to hurry up the playback. YouTube has the setting hidden under the gear settings icon just under the video.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


Last week’s Tipsheet focused on the top eight factors in creating a great video.  This week’s Tipsheet takes it home, with practical advice gleaned from hosting 180 hours of Professionally Speaking TV, being interviewed hundreds of times in media, and filming 100s of short promo videos for clients.  I only wish I knew then what I know now!

9) Make-up:  High definition video shows every pore on your face and every hair on your head, so heavy TV make-up is no longer advisable.  Instead, aim to have a natural look: imagine someone is standing immediately in front of your face, having a conversation with you.  Men:  if you feel uncomfortable wearing make-up, then do just two things: make sure that you are freshly shaved prior to the video, perhaps even shaving a second time if you are taping in the afternoon or evening.  And lightly apply some skin-colored powder to your forehead (and your “extended” forehead) to reduce the shine/reflection from the lighting.

10) AudioAn important maxim in today’s YouTube-video-consuming world:  people are just fine with so-so video, but are NOT fine with less-than-perfect audio.  The sound must be pristine.  This means high quality lapel (“lavaliere”) mics, and a sound check to set levels appropriately.  Hint:  stay away from hand-held mics. While the sound quality with handhelds is actually better, when the person holding the mic turns their head, or they change the distance from the mic to their mouth, the audio level will also vary, sometimes quite dramatically.

11) Cameras:  Always use high-definition video cameras, and always use tripods.  Beyond this though, how many cameras should you use?  One camera to capture the entire set?  Two cameras, one filming close-up, the other from a wider angle?  Three cameras, one on the host, one on the guest, and a third capturing the entire set?  If you watch any drama show on TV, note that they switch camera angles every 5-10 seconds: more cameras give the video momentum and improve engagement.  But more cameras also sharply increase editing time/costs.

12) Editing:  Beyond removing bloopers and splicing camera angles, there are two other important editing tasks: adding intro/outro segments to the video, and adding lower thirds (eg text overlays).  Doing these additional tasks adds polish and professionalism.

13) Posting:  You may have always posted your video on YouTube, Blip, or one of the many other video sharing sites. And you still should do this to widen your video’s distribution.  But recognize that the video landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years, and you should NOT embed these YouTube videos into your website.   Here’s why:  YouTube (and others) now embed pre-roll advertisements that play before your video does.  And when the video has finished, they stream “related” videos that may be from your competitors… or a detractor.  So in addition to hosting your videos on YouTube so that they can be found there, also, host them on a private cloud (Amazon, for example) that you pay for and control, and embed the videos from there.

14) Promotion: Build it and they will come is not a promotion strategy, and neither is prayer.  Developing a plan for how people will find the video is just as important as the video production itself.  The promotion strategy should include online (eg Robust Video metadata, Pay-per-click ads, Social shares, etc), as well as offline.

15) Evaluation:  Review the video’s analytics (from within YouTube and also Google analytics.) Determining the success (or not) of the video is the only way to learn and improve for next time.

This week’s action plan:  If you’ve experimented with video, now is the time to up your game.  And if you haven’t, now is the time to start.  This week, choose the factor that will make the biggest difference for you, and then add making a better video to your to-do list.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders



15 factors for creating great videos (Part 1)

by Randall Craig December 5, 2014

When it comes to video, it is better to be late to the game, than be an earlier adopter.  The reason why? We are no longer in the age of expensive experimentation: you can learn from the experience of others – and their mistakes. Here are 15 factors that can improve both the production and […]

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Eight Video Strategies

by Randall Craig November 21, 2014

If you are reading this post, you very well may be in the minority. Some people just don’t enjoy reading. Others have difficulty without their reading glasses. And still others have challenges reading the English language. That YouTube is reportedly the world’s second most used search engine is evidence of this. As is the continuing […]

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Viral Video Checklist

by Randall Craig May 25, 2012

You’ve created your own YouTube masterpiece, and after three weeks, it has 137 views.  While the number is gratifying, if you’re like many first-time content producers, you are probably wondering how to improve the viewership… beyond 10,000.  Or a million.  Or ten million. While there is no way to predict certain success, you can improve […]

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