About a month ago Rebecca Abraxas of Video Juice Media approached me about producing a video for Left Hand Community Acupuncture. I was excited because I've always wanted a promotional video for my business! Experts say that more video is streamed over the internet than any other kind of data. It makes sense that people would rather spend a minute or two watching a video than reading actual text. After all, seeing is believing! Human brains are wired to engage for faces, movement and sound, this makes video a winning combination.
However, I was petrified when I realized I would have to appear on camera. Again. Let me explain. When I first started my business in 2010, I emailed Suzanne McCaroll at CBS Denver for her weekly Money Saver spot. I told her I thought that community acupuncture clinics were a great way for folks in the metro area to save money. I never expected to hear from her at all, let alone to get a call from her within five minutes! She was excited to get an interview with me and film in our clinic the very next day. The only problem was, at that time we weren't open on Wednesdays. It also became apparent that it would be difficult time-wise for her crew to get up to Lafayette and back.
We ended up shooting at Denver Community Acupuncture, the clinic of my friends Jessica and Nicole. The cameraman shot footage of treatments in the community room, and interviewed patients. When it came my turn, the cameraman put a giant camera and mike in my face. I completely forgot what I wanted to say. Ms. McCaroll asked me what I enjoyed about community acupuncture. I wasn't sure if I should be looking at her or staring into the camera, so my eyes darted back and forth between the two of them. I blurted out the first thing I could think of, which was that I enjoyed feeling of communal Qi that happens when you get several people in the room together. She shot me a frustrated look and started peppering me with more questions. She had to drag it out of me that getting treated together at a low price benefited everyone. (Duh!) My shirt became soaked with sweat. It seemed like I was in front of the camera for a long time.
Despite my nerves, I was ecstatic that we had gotten mainstream media attention for Left Hand Community Acupuncture and Denver Community Acupuncture. We emailed everyone we could think of to alert them that we were going to be on the news that night. When the segment aired, I was so disappointed! I think I was on camera for all of three seconds. My teeth looked so crooked and my eyes darted like a criminal's. In the interests of creating a short, filler piece, Suzanne's team edited out a lot of what we wanted to convey. Jessica was disappointed that she was only featured putting in one needle. My kids turned to me and asked "Was that it?!" Looking back on it all, I felt embarrassed.
Fast forward to the present day. Rebecca asked me to come up with a one minute script for my video. She also asked me to think of who my target audience was and to have a call to action. No problem, I thought. I recycled "the blurb" I've been using in print for years. I decided my target audience was folks who were ready to make a change for the better. My call to action was "Life is too short not to be living it fully. So make a commitment to your health and call us today." That's about the only thing we kept!
Tip #1 Choose a Strong Call to Action. Getting a professional video made doesn't have as much impact if you don't tell the viewer what to do next. Adding a sense of urgency helps, too. "Buy one today!" "Click on our website now!" "Don't wait! Call to find out how we can help!"
Rebecca sent some edits back to me, which made me realize that what is well-suited to print advertising is not necessarily what you want to use for a video. Reciting all the reasons a person might want visit your business ends up sounding like a grocery list of random facts when read aloud. Sure you're convenient and affordable and cozy and professional and helpful.... but for your video, you need to pick one.
Her questions made me realize 'why you should choose a licensed acupuncturist' is its own topic. 'How acupuncture works' is its own topic. These could be great topics for a "vlog" someday, but didn't belong in my video. Finally we whittled it down to 1) Left Hand Community Acupuncture is affordable 2) Acupuncture can help with the problems we all face everyday 3) Make an appointment today!
Tip #2 Cut it down. Unless you're going to teach people how to fold origami, cut it down. Making a promotional video is like backpacking: pack everything you think you can't live without, cut that in half and then cut that in half again. You have one main message, and a couple of supporting messages. That's it.
Rebecca and I met for a coaching session and we went over the script. She noticed that I got a lot more animated by telling the story of me never having enough money for acupuncture than what I had written down. The right story is a lot more compelling than a bunch of facts.
Tip #3 Find your flavor. Why you? Why your business? What makes you special? Do you have a story to hook people in? This is your time to shine!
Finally it was time to read through it as though we were shooting a video. Rebecca got out her phone. All my insecurities came roaring back. I froze again. We talked about my inability to stare into the camera, the darting eyes, my fear that I would forget the important things I wanted to say. We practiced Rebecca filming me with her phone and used a light fixture with a lot of can lights to mimic how bright it would be on "the set". We used a big round piece of paper on the wall to act as the camera.
Tip #4 Be playful. Rebecca encouraged me to be playful with the camera. How would you talk to the camera if it were your friend? Pretend inside the camera lens there were the faces of all the customers who really value you. They're all nodding and smiling at you. Try saying your piece goofy for one practice round, then give it your best shot in the next. "What would you do if you weren't afraid to fail?"
Now came the time to do my homework. I needed to memorize my one-minute monologue and have it come out just the way I wanted it to sound.
Tip #5 Memorize your script. Tell it to your family, tell it to your friends, tell it to your bathroom mirror and the gearshift in your car. Use a funny accent, say it slowly, then say it fast. If something feels awkward either practice it slow until it flows off your tongue easily or reword it. I went over and over the parts of the script that flowed well, then I linked it to the bits of the script that seemed difficult.
So the big day had arrived. If you know me at all, you know that I NEVER wear make up unless it's Halloween. With the help of a couple 14 year old Youtubers, I managed to learn how to pick the correct color of foundation for my skin and how to apply it without making myself look like a zombie. Big win there.
Tip #6 Wear Makeup, even if you're a dude. All those super bright lights will wash you out if you don't. Get help from your videographer or a friend if you need it.
Matt put me right at ease with his friendly demeanor and easy manner. We started off with shots of the community room, patients, me talking to patients, and inserting needles.
Tip #7 Make sure you're on the same page When choosing a video production company, make sure the two of you have the same vision for your spot. Matt, Rebecca and I talked about the things I absolutely wanted to include and also what I did not want to convey. I wanted to make sure we got footage of patients relaxing together. I did not want Chinese music twanging in the background. Don't assume that your videographer will know what you want.
Finally came the hard part: me speaking to the camera. Matt set up his tripod and big banks of lights. There was a "X" for me to be on my mark and get this: a clapper board! I tried to remember everything I had been working on for the past few weeks. It was kinda fun actually. These are my final few tips.
Tip #8 BREATHE It's not a race. Take your time between sentences. Breathing keeps you calm and makes your delivery clearer.
Tip #9 Keep rolling. I'm a sucker for all the "extras" that they include at the end of movies, so I'm accustomed to seeing actors flub a line, but repeat it as if nothing had happened or to go "blah-blah-blah" and shake their arms and head and start over. You know what? It's ok for you to do that, too! It's the key to getting over the brain freeze. The fewer times you have to do a total stop and restart, the easier it will be for your videographers.
Tip #10 You don't have to be perfect. Your video is going to have lots of footage of you doing what you do, your products, your space. If you rub your nose, or forget to look at the camera for a moment, it can be edited out. If Robert De Niro gets additional takes to get it right, so do you.
Take a look at the final product. It turned out finer than I could have imagined!
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and shares your story.
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