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Everyone’s Gone to Video

I’m willing to bet you’ve either just looked (or were about to look) at your Facebook feed or your Twitter feed or your Instagram feed or whatever other feed with which you choose to ‘socially’ interact. Further, I’m willing to bet that you were greeted with half a dozen cute, interesting or otherwise share-worthy videos.

We’ve all seen the sneezing panda, right? How about the ongoing political commentary and news stories being handed directly to us from the pundits in glorious high definition? When the cameras were shut off during the Democrats 25-hour sit-in on June 22nd in the House of Representatives, they used the social video broadcasting app Periscope to broadcast their gun control message to the world.

Short attention spans and a long list of sharing platforms make video the single most effective method of engaging people online. Whether you want to educate or entertain, bemuse or convince, your target audience is more likely to stop scrolling and pay attention to what you have to say if you say it in the form of a video.

People watching videos on their screens

Sloths. They’re all watching videos of sloths. Wait, no, the guy in the middle is watching William Shatner sing Rocket Man

Surely it’s a no brainer. Video engages brilliantly, so we should be using it everywhere, all the time, in every presentation, right?

Yes, you’re right, we should absolutely be using vid…
No! Why would we give you an article that can’t make it out of its own third paragraph?

Video is a powerful tool, but when it comes to presentations it can also be a dangerous beast. You need to know how to handle it to prevent doing more harm than good.

 Moving Pictures

The motivator for including video in your presentation should be first and foremost to cement your position as an authority. Dropping in an entertaining video without relevance may cause a ripple of ever-so-slightly-awkward chuckling around the room, but it won’t make them more likely to give you the business.

We joke about cat videos a lot. In general, they’re funny. But they’re rarely appropriate for business presentations. If, however, that cat video genuinely supports your point, it might be justified (see below). The trick lies in understanding your audience, having a great story, and knowing how to spot what’s needed and when.

A prime example of video’s ability to harness emotion and embed itself in your memory. You’ll remember this one next time you’re busy not making decisions in the meeting room.

One of video’s undeniable strengths is its ability to engage with people. It can pull your audience into the presentation and keep them engaged long after it’s finished.

The video above is bloody brilliant, but not just for the obvious ailurophilic angle (all of the kitties!). It has a point, and it uses humor to hook into your long-term memory and ensure that the message stays with you.

If you use the right content in the right place, you can move your audience from the brink of losing interest to the edge of their seats.

 With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

If, when rehearsing (rehearse, rehearse rehearse!), your team identifies a point that could do with a bit of a lift, that could be a good location in your deck to drop in a relevant video and bring the audience back from the point of no return. That being said, for video to be impactful, it needs to be used judiciously. Adding too many clips may dilute the effectiveness of your message. You risk being remembered for the videos, rather than your substance or authority.

Using video isn’t all gravy. There are other potential hazards. The chances that a poorly chosen video will detract from the message are high. If the audience comes away from the presentation with more questions than they had before, the video probably wasn’t a good idea. Always run your content by a neutral colleague to be sure that the clip is performing as intended.

Technically, Video Has the Edge

Kid showing abstract concepts on a board not in a video

One often overlooked capacity of video is how great it can be at describing complicated or abstract concepts. If you find yourself getting into the technical weeds while trying to describe exactly how your new widget works, a short video may be better able to explain your point than twenty slides. However, when it comes to technical stuff, remember to KISS – Keep It Short and Sweet. Try to keep videos concerning the dry, but necessary, content as short as possible. The last thing you want is for the video to bore your audience.

 Go With the Flow

As tempting as it may be to speak up and describe key moments in a video, especially a technical one, don’t! The demand on the audience’s attention would go through the roof, and they will deal with that by checking out. If the video is important enough to include, shut up and let it do its thing. Then be ready to ride its coattails with a salient point or Q&A session when it’s finished.

When you do start talking again, be sure to respect the flow of your presentation. Taking a tangent after involving the audience in a high state of emotional engagement will at best confuse them and at worst, annoy them to the point that they cross their arms and switch off. The only exception to this is a video used to conclude, which is absolutely acceptable. Leaving an audience with an emotional kicker at the end of a section or presentation will keep them engaged after you’ve finished speaking.

The Post-Credits Bit

The main reason for including video in your presentation, as with any other content, is to establish a level of trust in the eyes of your audience. Video adds a dimension to presentations that can be easily overdone—they can be flashy, distracting and pointless.

Video is far more powerful than a pie chart or screenshot, and that means you need to be careful about how it’s used. However, when used correctly, a video can be a hugely persuasive tool—just make sure it really deserves its place.

2016-10-21T11:03:07-05:00 By |Categories: Communication, Presentations, Technology|Tags: , , , , |