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Top Tech Tips: Video – So Easy to do Badly

August 2, 2010 - 37 Comments

 The very ease in which one can produce video these days once led pundits to predict that this democratization would threaten TV and Hollywood studios with the abundance of content and options.  This has happened to a certain extent, but as we all know, most of what is created these days is not that great and thankfully continues to languish in obscurity.  This may be fine for all the people vigorously uploading to YouTube and umpteen other locations…but your a business person.  Or, you are at least creating with a purpose.  I certainly hope you are anyway!

PowerPoint made visuals so easy to create that we would be lost without this tool in almost any meeting these days…but the blame is not on PowerPoint. People make bad presentations, not the software we love to blame. Enough has been written on that subject – my focus here is on using video to deliver a message and how we are at risk, as business communicators, of letting ‘ease of use’ allow us to pump out sub-par visuals communications once again and as such, we will get sub-par results.

This clip is one of my recent rants on the subject as part of our larger TechWiseTV show we produce twice per month. The main show, Business Video: Mastering the New Change Agent involved a look at the complete workflow from creative inspiration to production and formatting to distribution.  This is just the rant, but check out the rest if interested – Cisco is doing a great job making video easier for ‘the business.’

When it come to our business communications, a couple of things become much more important and need to be distinguished from our personal communication. We still want to be personal but we all need to pay attention to our objectives (what do we want people to do after watching) and our ability to communicate. So many things can either get in the way (be a distraction) of good video communication or enhance it.   The counterintuitive notion that  ‘sound’ is more important than the video is certainly one…but, in a nutshell, taking the time to eliminate anything in the shot, the sound or the message that detracts from the objective.

If I were to make one single plea for all of us out creating stuff – Do the one thing nobody does enough of …re-editing.  Refine your creation.  This really goes for just about anything in life really… we are all in such a rush…but the true genius lies in the re-edit.   And when if comes to video, the re-edit will not only polish your creation to a brilliant luster but you will learn invaluable lessons for doing a better job in the earlier parts of your production such as interviews, camera work, light, sound, cut-away shots you missed or did not hold long enough, etc.  Don’t overlook this!

Brevity is the hardest thing to pull off.  The shorter and more concise you can be the better – but the more compact you want your creation to be, allocate 2 to 4X as much personal time to making it happen.  The cool thing is…your viewers will thank you. No hard and fast rules about how short a video should be (within reason)…but make sure your points come across efficiently and energetically as appropriate…get rid of everything else. Leave nothing that does not contribute to the communication goal you established.

This short video was a segment pulled from full, one hour, TechWiseTV show where we brought in a number of different experts within Cisco that helped us to not only work on the ‘performance aspects’ referenced here but also the latest Cisco technologies that are re-shaping how Cisco is bringing consumer driven ease of use to the corporate world.  (Remember when business got all the toys first?).  

More opinions and tips like are also found in the shownotes we blogged on this episode.  

Follow us on twitter: and if you were not already familiar with our show, I hope you check it out.

Managing Editor,
Cisco Interaction Network/TechWiseTV

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  1. Good site that even helps newbies. Interesting. Check out Google Sniper.

  2. that's really great tips for me to doing my own video.thanks for it.

  3. Great post robb,thanks for the tech tips.agree with you

  4. Great article!I agree with your thougts. If a video starts bad with an unprofessional"" look, I think almost everybody stops looking instantly. So if you want peaple to see your videos and take part of your messages, do them in a professional way!"

  5. With the growing popularity of the video, there is no doubt that everyone is jumping in the bandwagon. Everyone seems to be something shabily and send it to Youtube and that is why there are so badly done videos today.

  6. Very good video post and easy to understand!

  7. im use keynote from apple, thats great prsentation softwrae. PPT must be hardwork to get better presentation.

  8. “If I were to make one single plea for all of us out creating stuff - Do the one thing nobody does enough of Good point about cutting back and forth between supporting footage and the presenter adding pizazz

  9. You're totally right about your point of refining your creation and re editing the video you've produced. I often try to take several days out between a first edit and second edit so that I approach the creation with a fresh pair of ears and eyes.. which inevitably produces a much better result.

  10. All points well taken. Re-editing is the hard part for me, but I'm getting better. Thank you for the point on brevity, so many people ramble with their videos, I wonder if they know how many people they lose because of that. The video doesn't necessarily have to be short but if it's to the point and interesting people will follow it all the way through.

  11. I might have a slightly different opinion. Let me quote the recent post of Brendan Regan 'B2B promotional videos are often guilty of being over-produced, expensive, flashy, etc. Wake up, marketers! The YouTube revolution was not televised, and the public is obviously accepting of low-budget videos so long as the content is compelling. You may be able to surprise your prospects with a simple, inexpensive, yet genuine video instead of trying to win that Webby Award'

  12. As David says, the backgroud music is a usual culprit for a poor impression, it's something that should be chosen carefully, not just picked from a collection of 1980's elevator music!

  13. There is certainly a trend on youtube of sub-par tech videos that are usually of very bad quality and technical detail!Funnily enough I saw one the other day advertising a Linksys WRT54G2 router (it was a tech review from a walmart type store in the US) the router itself has 10/100 LAN ports but was being advertised as 1GB ports!

  14. I completely agree with Doug when he says that it depends on the market. Great article, thank you for the information! :)

  15. Good post Robb. Thank you.

  16. Ooo... Robb, thanks for this video.

  17. Another amazing video from Cisco. Thanks a lot mates:)

  18. a good suggestion about video producing.the various facts that has described above that will help to make and edit the video smoothly

  19. Good point about cutting back and forth between supporting footage and the presenter adding pizazz - if you look at any movie trailer you see how this fast action technique is used to engage and excite the viewer. That level of action may be too extreme for a corporate video presentation but a toned down version of this technique is certainly effective in engaging the audience.

  20. Rob.....Your post shed some light on so much I am now seeing with video presentations within my own company. And it's a huge global company at that. Some of my co-workers like to add fancy backgrounds and content that does not match the scope of the conversation or presentation at hand to make the video's look flashy. Who cares! Just make a simple, short, abbreviated video to the point that is not over the top and you will come out so much better. Thanks for bringing up this issue.

  21. Make sue the sound is good quaility as well, both the background music and vocals. Too often people use overly loud, cheesy elevator moozac on a corporate video with badly recorded dialogue that you can hardly hear. Not a good impression..!

  22. Hai Robb, Great tips, and love this People make bad presentations, not the software we love to blame."" LOL"

  23. Thank you all for the comments. This is where a lot of my learning occurs quite often....curious - what topics in this area should we cover in more depth? Is there any one area where some of you may feel like needs some coverage? Even this post has so many things left out of it - so many angles to this that I really enjoy teaching if anyone has a preference... thanks again! Robb

  24. nice one Rob, I enjoyed this.. JP

  25. Hi Robb,Very insightful points indeed. The path we have taken from simple Powerpoint Presentations to full on-suite business Webinars is incredible!(to say the least)I see the next trend in video on computers = 3D

  26. Very nice post Robb. Thanks for that great video.

  27. Robb. Great article Just learning about video...was thinking of turning some of my still single-panel cartoons into short animated videos. Thanks for sharing this important info. Rick London

  28. I have tons of poor shootings and unedited videos. I must a little refine my creations. Good post, btw. Thanks!

  29. Thanks for that Robb, That was one of the better clips I've seen on making video. I think some things depend on the market too. Having the right media to market message is important. For instance you might be marketing to a group where making a professional looking well produced video would be off putting. Even so, I don't think following your advice would hurt.

  30. If I were to make one single plea for all of us out creating stuff - Do the one thing nobody does enough of""I completely agree. Most people don't put enough emphasis on the little things. It can be the difference between an engaging video that goes viral and a video that everyone bounces away from."

  31. Robb,I completely agree with your comments. I have created some nice PPT presentations and I have created some not so nice, but it was never the fault of the software. I do not know where I would be without my MS products. Great post. All the best,Jake

  32. Given the video exhibits the corporate entity's skill, dedication and efforts, you can't compromise its quality in any sense if you are serious about your business!

  33. With the increasing popularity of videos, it's no doubt that everyone is jumping into the bandwagon. Everyone seems to be putting something up shabily and post it to Youtube and that's why there are so many poorly done videos nowadays.

  34. Good post Robb, Thank you for all these interesting information, you have a very important blog.

  35. Very nice tips, Robb. Good videos can take a lot of time to make if we focus on quality procedures like light control and precise editing, but the final results worth it.

  36. Excellent points, Robb. One other thing that I think is of critical importance to producing a video that is not sub-par is simply not allowing anyone to move the camera. Unless you have access to professionals and high-end equipment, just take different static shots and then edit.

  37. You have a great topic to post in your blog. I agree with you most of the videos I often seen nowadays are done poorly though after editing. Anyway,thanks for the tips