Part 4: How to Craft Your Video Message
Got a junk drawer?
Everybody has one.
Got a few seconds?
Go ahead– open it up.
What do you see?
Don’t tell me.
Now let me ask you something.
What if you eliminated the stuff you never used?
What would be left?
Only the things that matter, right?
Eliminating the clutter from your interview is a lot like eliminating the clutter from your junk drawer
Finding out what you want from the interview requires getting rid of what you don’t want. Getting rid of what you don’t want (the “junk”) leaves you with the most important part; the core message you want to communicate to your audience.
So now what?
You’ve got your transcript in your hands
You’re itching to discover the core message and start shaping your script. How do you find the core message in a sea of words?
Let’s create a scenario.
Let’s say you’ve interviewed three customers
And let’s say each customer has generated about six pages of content.
That’s 18 pages of words.
Whoa, that’s a lot of words!
How do you begin dealing with 18 pages of words?
You begin by organizing your content.
Without organizing your content, your brain goes into a tizzy trying to figure out the final script. Figuring out the final script is simply a matter of eliminating the confusion. You begin by creating a “paper edit.”
What’s a “paper edit?”
A paper edit is your “video on paper.” The “video on paper” represents your interview selections arranged in the order of the video– you edit on paper before you edit in video.
The paper edit allows you to rearrange your message easily and quickly– saving lots of time (and probably money) in the edit session. How do you create a paper edit?
Four simple steps to create a paper edit:
- Photocopy the transcript.
- Highlight all the interesting answers.
- Cut out the highlighted answers.
- Select the best answers.
1. Photocopy the transcript
The first step in the paper edit process is to photocopy all the transcripts. Copy everything, keeping your original safe somewhere. Copying the transcripts lets you be creative and a bit messy when you make notes on the copies.
2. Highlight all the interesting answers
Grab about five different colored highlighters. There’s a trick in this highlighting process. The trick is to use a different color for each main idea. So if you have several answers relating to “our competitive edge,” then highlight (or bracket or circle) those answers in red, for instance.
Let’s say you highlight the answers about “how we got started” in green. And the answers about “our future” in blue. Each topic gets a different color.
Got your highlighters ready? Got your video player ready, too?
Cue up the video interview to the beginning.
Play the video and read the transcript while the video is playing.
As the interview is playing, listen carefully. Any answer where you think, “Oh, that’s great,” is your cue. Highlight or put brackets around that quote. At this point, don’t be too picky in your selections; it doesn’t have to be the perfect answer. Just mark-up any interesting quotes you think might have a chance of being in your final video.
If you just read the transcript without watching the video, you may select quotes that look fine on paper but don’t come across well in the video (for any number of reasons). So, yeah, play the video and mark-up what might be a great quote for the video.
When you’ve finished playing the interview, you’ll now have a transcript marked up in different colors with all the favorite quotes you’ll consider using in your final video.
Repeat this process with all your interviews.
3. Cut out the highlighted answers
Remember that junk drawer? Remember how you cleaned it out and you were left with things that you really wanted? It’s time to do the same with these quotes. It’s time to eliminate the clutter so you are left with the most valuable answers.
Cut out all the quotes you highlighted
Be sure to include either the time-code or the counter time with each quote.
What do you do with the answers you cut out?
- Find a table and lay out your answers.
- Start arranging the answers to tell a story.
- Keep moving the answers around to see what works best.
Hidden within those quotes sprawled out on your table is your story, your final script.
4. Select the best answers
How do you select the best answers? By reading the answers over and over. It’s a bit like putting a puzzle together. Keep studying the answers. Part of what’s happening now is the brain is getting familiar with this new territory. At first, the territory feels a bit awkward. Once you become familiar with the material, certain answers will pop out more than others .
5. Arrange the best answers into a final script
You’re familiar with the answers. You’ve started to weed out the clutter. You’re now left with the “best of the best.” Arrange the answers so your message follows the “arc” if you used that as a starting point. If you didn’t use the arc, that’s fine; arrange the quotes so the beginning feels interesting, perhaps even a bit mysterious. Move to the middle with your main points and end with a call to action.
Many videos incorporate additional footage complementing the interviews
This additional footage supports the interview and gives meaning and context to a sequence of quotes. This additional footage is commonly referred to as “B-roll.”
For instance, if your interviewee is talking about expanding their operations by building a new facility, you could show photos or video of the building being constructed along trucks unloading equipment, etc.
If you plan on incorporating B-roll into your video, you could use 3 x 5 index cards to write your B-roll scenes. Each scene gets an index card.
In the example above you could have one card saying “Construction”
You can take the idea a step further. If the element has three distinct scenes, each scene could have its own card, like this:
- “Moving lab equipment in”
- “Building outdoor testing facility”
- “Opening day ceremonies”
Now insert these cards where appropriate in your paper edit
Note: you can also do this entire process electronically. For instance, you can copy the transcript file and save it as a new document. Then highlight the sections in your new document with different colors. Finally, cut and paste those highlighted quotes to another new document, creating a first draft of your final script. Now you can move the different sections around till you like the sequence.
The paper edit is a great “hands on” method still used today by many filmmakers. If the paper edit isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to switch to the electronic form.
Congratulations. You now have a final script!
All the quotes might fall into place to create a smooth, free-flowing message.
Did you say free-flowing? You mean you’re stuck?
On the other hand, your quotes might not be so free flowing.
You might notice something is missing between the answers.
What’s missing is something called “connectors.”
Connectors are like bridges
A bridge makes a physical connection between two points. As you’re arranging your answers, you may notice a gap between one answer and another that needs connecting: you need a way to “bridge” the two ideas.
You can’t connect one idea to the next with a quote
Unfortunately, sometimes your interviewee didn’t say anything you could use to bridge the two ideas. This happens from time to time. Your guest didn’t give the answer correctly or they didn’t give you a complete answer. They may have given an answer that was completely different from what you expected.
How do you fix this gap?
Use a simple text graphic to connect the ideas
A graphic with a few words (ideally, no more than six) is the easiest way to connect two ideas if you can’t connect them from your interviewee. Using titles also serves to break up the video visually; it gives the eyes a break from seeing the same things over and over.
Here’s an example
Let’s say you’ve just launched a new product. You’d like to capture a 90-second (or so) video testimonial about the product from one of your customers. This short video will stand by itself (or it may be integrated into a longer video with other testimonials).
Note: In this example, we’ll use the regular, everyday time counter which will look like this on your transcript: 00:25:12 (0 hours, 25 minutes, 12 seconds)
Example: Customer testimonial. Final script
When I was 12 years old, I knew exactly what I wanted to be– a veterinarian. I’ve always loved animals, so being with them everyday and helping them to feel better is really a lot of fun.
Graphic: Name, title, company.
There’s a lot of information, or moving parts as it were, in this business. You not only have to deal with and access the pet’s information but the pet owner’s information, too. All this information needs to be easily and quickly accessed– usually while someone is on the phone waiting for an answer.
Graphic: What’s your biggest challenge every day?
Scheduling our clients and their pets. Definitely. Clients are constantly changing schedules and we want to accommodate them quickly and accurately. We’ve really never had a scheduling system that does what we wanted it to do.
We actually gave up looking for a scheduling system that fit our needs. We figured it just didn’t exist.
Disbelief. We didn’t think it could do everything we wanted it to do.
Graphic: How do you like the “so and so” product?
It’s been incredible. First off, it has everything we hoped for and wanted in a system. Secondly, it has the neatest additional features that the staff find invaluable– especially when they’re on the phone with a client who wants instant answers to their questions.
Graphic: What would you say to someone who is “on the fence?”
Jump off the fence! It’s definitely worth looking into. You don’t have anything to lose. You get a free trial period where you can use it to see how it fits in your own practice. The other great think you don’t see right away is the support; the support has been great. So, yeah, get off the fence and check it out.
Note: Instead of using graphics as connectors, you could also record narration (voice-over) as a connector.
Look closely at this script.
Notice two things
1. The time counter is out of order.
This simply means the questions answers were arranged in a different order than the order in which they were asked.
2. Some of the answers were incomplete answers.
If you know you’re going to have graphics or narration in your video, you might be able to get away with some incomplete answers from your guest. I wouldn’t walk away from the session with every answer being incomplete, but a few here or there may be fine. To be safe, aim for getting a complete answer for every question you ask.
Finding the quotes on video should be pretty easy if you used time-code or a regular time counter. Begin editing your video based on your paper edit. If an edit doesn’t work, you might try editing the quote at a different point, either a bit earlier or a bit later. Massage the edit till it flows and feels natural.
Add a touch of music and, “Voila! You’re done!
Getting rid of clutter in your message is easier than you think
Staring at pages and pages of transcript, trying to figure out your message can send the brain into a tizzy. The simple way around this, of course, is to get organized.
Getting organized not only helps you shape your message, it makes your upcoming edit time go like clockwork.
Here is the entire paper edit process all wrapped up for you:
- Every edit session begins with a paper edit.
- Organize your content by photocopying your transcript.
- Highlight all the answers where your brain goes, “Oh, that’s great!”
- Cut out all your answers and place them on a table.
- Starting eliminating the answers you don’t want.
- Move the answers around till you have an interesting story to tell.
- Add simple graphic text to connect disconnected ideas.
So, yeah, now it’s time to put some of the ideas you’ve learned into practice.
Will these new ideas feel awkward at first?
Will it feel different?
No doubt, it will.
The way around this awkwardness is to start using just one or two ideas each time you interview someone
Don’t try to use everything at once. Hey, if you think you can do that– go for it! Otherwise, just take one step at a time.
It’s just a conversation.
Thomas Clifford is an award-winning communications specialist and blogger. Tom’s copywriting simplifies complex business ideas so prospects and customers “get it.”
Clifford spent 25 years producing 500+ films as a branding/marketing documentary producer for Fortune 500’s to non-profits. Tom’s informal, conversational style of interviewing people enabled him to capture jargon-free marketing messages– igniting audiences into action.
Tom has been featured in several books including the new release, “How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business.” Clifford also co-authored (with other bloggers) three “Age of Conversation” books and has written dozens of articles as an “Expert Blogger” for FastCompany.com.