You must understand your video’s audience

If you want to create a powerful video that leaves a lasting impression then you need to plan everything with your audience in mind…

The videos that work are the ones that people connect with on some level.  They relate to it.  They feel engaged because it speaks to them.

You stand a far better chance of achieving this if you plan your video with your audience in mind.  Their interests, their needs, their take on things. These things need to be at the forefront of your mind during planning if you want to create a video that delivers for your project.

Here are 10 areas where you need to consider your audience when planning a video:

  1. Who is your audience?

Are they mostly women, all men, or a mix?  Are they young or old?  Highly educated professionals or more frontline workers?  Are they mostly middle managers perhaps?  Do they share a common interest you can draw on?  Where do they stand on the motivation continuum?  Are most of them really enthusiastic about your project, disengaged, or indifferent?  They might even feel threatened by it.

Whatever their demographic and attitude, your video will be stronger if you take time to think through these questions as you plan your video.

  1. The information they need and NO MORE

You love your project and of course want your audience to know as much as possible about it.  There are so many important pieces!  However, the best videos focus on delivering the information the audience needs, and nothing more. You need to let go of what you want to tell them and stick with what they are interested in.  And remember, a professional voice over artist using a natural style will speak at about 150 words per minute.  Interviewees will usually speak a little faster.  The point is, for a three-minute video you only have around 450-500 words to play with, so choose wisely.  If your video works they’ll want to know more and they can do that via your intranet, website, and other comms materials.

  1. The right type of video for your audience

Should you video include talking head interviews, or would scripted voice over narration work better?  Or, maybe a bit of both?  How about instead of interviews you get one or more trusted experts to talk directly to the camera, sharing a more personal message face to face with the viewer?  Or, maybe an animated explainer video is more suited to your audience.  Your production company or comms team can help you decide the type of video that would be most effective for your project.

  1. A style they’ll like

Choose a style that suits the audience and the topic.   Does fast-paced and edgy suit your topic?  Or, does your audience need something more grounded?  Will they respond to something out of the box?  Or would that put them off and they instead need to know that what you’re doing will be reliable, secure and safe so a more conservative style is more appropriate?

We’ve made a lot of videos for healthcare.  When shooting in the Emergency Department we’ve shot hand-held, which helped capture the fast-paced, unpredictable nature of an ED.  Whereas when we made a video about Intensive Care we shot everything on a tripod, creating a more grounded, secure feeling, in keeping with the more controlled world of the ICU.  Think of your audience and choose a style that they’ll respond to the most.

  1. Use your audience’s language

When scripting, always keep in mind the language your audiences are used to. Whether it’s the voice over narration script, or the questions and likely answers you plan for your interviews, make sure you are clear on the words and ways of speaking that your audience will relate to, and also what they WON’T relate to.  Always have a list of words and phrases that should be avoided.

  1. Use speakers your audience will connect with and trust

Will your audience respond positively to your Chief Executive on this topic, or are you better off sticking to frontline people who live and breathe the topic?  The answer is often to have both levels, but make sure you think this through first.  You can’t invite the boss to speak only to cut him out in the edit.  That might not go over so well, so make sure you’re clear in the planning and scripting stage.  And remember, it’s not about whether they SHOULD listen to a certain speaker, it’s about whether they will…

  1. The right voice over artist for your audience

If you have professional voice over narration, think about things like style, age and gender.  If your audience is largely women in their forties and fifties, having a hip-sounding 30-year-old male narrating your video probably won’t cut it.  There are dozens of great male and female voice over artists out there of all ages, with a wide range so take the time to choose the one that suits your audience.

  1. Use visual overlay that your audience will connect with

Usually, something they’ll recognise and relate to that is as realistic as possible.  When shooting overlay with speakers, ask them to help you to make it realistic.  We’ll say to our speakers “tell us if we want to film anything that is not realistic, especially if you think the audience will pick it up.  It must look the goods otherwise, your audience will be put off.

Your internal comms people and your production company or internal media team will help you with all of this.  We always start with a Script Summary, which lays out the basics of how we understand the project, including who the audience is.  Once the client has approved that we then write the script, again, continually coming back to “what would the audience engage with the most”.

  1. Choose music they’ll feel

Should the background music be motivational?  Inspiring?  Touching?   Is something quirky in order, or would it better to have something more traditional?  These, like all of the decisions above, should be made with your audience in mind.

  1. If you don’t know, ask

Send the script to a few trusted audience members and ask them if you are hitting the mark. Far better to find out now that you are on the wrong track than when you release the video.  It will also help engage those people further in your project and create a group of video sharers, which you’ll need when it comes time to launch it.

Final comment

Make sure the script has your audience needs at the centre and everyone has bought into it before you sign it off.  And then keep coming back to it throughout the process of creating the video, making sure everything you’re doing is in service of your audience. If you do this, there is a much better chance that you’ll see your views rise following your launch.

Joe Hughes founded Magpie Creative in 2014 after a long career as an IT Project Manager, including working on several large change programs. Magpie Creative specialises in creating engaging videos focussed on helping organisations implement change. Watch our show reel here.