3 ways to make your videos sizzle instead of fizzle

Want more views from consumers or potential clients? Here are three ways to unleash your creativity and transform run-of-the-mill videos into must-see content.

Most corporate videos are boring and creatively bankrupt.

These duds include talking-head videos, tired product demos and pandering customer testimonials. It’s no wonder they evaporate quickly into the online mist.

Here are three steps for creating videos worth watching:

1. Understand what kills creativity. “There’s an almost universal disaster happening in companies today when it comes to working with creatives,” says John Zissimos, chief creative officer at Salesforce.

“The world is full of idea killers,” he says. “These are people who zap the energy out of every presentation and demoralize and de-motivate their creatives without even knowing they’re doing it.”

What causes this destructive force?

“Everyone thinks they’re creative, so their minds are always imagining what they would create or do,” he explains. “When a team comes in to present ideas and your first inclination is to throw out your idea or say it won’t work or a million other negative responses, it triggers a kill switch in the creative’s mind.”

The result: “They shut down or go in defense mode. That’s creative cancer.”

Register for PR Daily’s Dec. 1 webinar “Master Visual Brand Storytelling with Emotional Stories” for more tips from Salesforce Chief Creative Officer John Zissimos.

2. Inspire creative team members. “Be a champion for creativity, and you’ll always end up in a great place,” Zissimos says. “Be a killer of creativity, and you’ll always be disappointed.”

Here are his tips for inspiring creatives and pointing them in the right direction, whether you’re working with video or other formats:

  • Speak in affirmations. “Replace, ‘no, but’ with ‘yes, and,'” he says.
  • Act engaged. “Be the person who sits up and listens to the whole presentation without interrupting,” he suggests. “Be interested. Be curious. Ask what led the creative team to this idea. Talk about everything you liked about it.”
  • Feel their energy. “If you sense nervousness, ask about it. Nervousness could be regular nerves or a lack of confidence in the idea,” Zissimos says. “A lack of confidence could mean your creatives were forced to bring something to you they don’t believe in, or they didn’t have enough to go on, or the brief was flat, or they just didn’t put the time into it.”

His point: “If you know that, you can empower them to share what they really want to say or share. That builds trust, understanding and confidence.”

  • Fuel confidence. Your job is to unlock and feed insight and inspire creativity, not suppress them.

“If you sense confidence in the room, push on that,” Zissimos says. Do this by saying: “This is compelling! You know what could make it even better?” That opens ears and minds.

“What you say next will be heard and greatly appreciated, instead of triggering a creative shutdown,” he says.

3. Shun equipment paralysis. “Avoid spending or thinking you need a lot of money for equipment, or you’ll never get started,” Zissimos says. “That kind of thinking is a trap. The story is infinitely more important than the capture device.”

The best camera, he points out, is the one you have right there in your pocket.

“Your iPhone is super powerful with a relatively inexpensive external mic attached,” he says. “Attach it to a tripod, point it at your subject, put your finger in the screen and lock the focus and exposure, and roll.”

You can also put together a great little mobile package for under $1,000. A DSLR with an external mic, tripod and small light are within reach for practically anyone.

“Just remember to always use a tripod or shoulder stabilizer of some kind,” Zissimos says. “Shaky cam is hard to watch and signals amateur video.”

More important: “Start scrappy, tell good stories, build an audience and drive business momentum,” he says. “If you do that, I can assure you that you’ll find yourself getting funding to do much more.”

Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager for PR Daily’s PR University. Salesforce Chief Creative officer John Zissimos will share more tips in PR University’s Dec. 1 webinar, “Master Visual Brand Storytelling: Transform your communications with the power of emotional storytelling.”

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