016: Why Your Videos Suck
The podcast dedicated to giving you a no-bullshit look at what it takes to build relationships through video. This is for the scared, the overwhelmed, the awkward as fuck, and all those who believe diy doesn't have to mean amateur but don't know where to start ...
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Tors is a television professional, who studied all aspects of television production before launching her career spanning almost a decade. She's worked with a BAFTA nominated production team, has her own entry on imdb.com, and has even walked the red carpet several (terrifying) times.
She's had chips thrown at her by David Tennant (it was an accident, he's got terrible aim), she's interviewed some amazing actresses, and she attended the cast and crew screening of Empire Strikes Back at the grand old age of four.
Now she lives in south Wales with a large dog and a small cat, where she uses the knowledge she gained in her television years and beyond, to help online biz owners step in front of the camera and connect with their audience.
In This Episode
Let’s chat about something everyone worries about, why your videos suck. I know, I’m hitting you where you hurt today, but I promise it’s all going to be okay.
"Your videos are supposed to suck when you first start out. Everyone’s do, and you’re no different." - Tors Grantham on #videomatterspodcast
"You’ll only believe your videos don’t suck when you feel like you’ve mastered whatever it is you think you’re doing wrong, and that takes practice. You need to sit your butt down and do the work." - Tors Grantham on #videomatterspodcast
"The problem with wanting to feel like a rockstar is your content becomes all about how it makes you feel and what it can do for you. And, oh boy, is that the wrong mindset to have." - Tors Grantham on #videomatterspodcast
"The thing I want you to take away is that people will put up with crappy production values if the content makes them feel good, if it helps them + is delivered in a way that helps them trust you." - Tors Grantham on #videomatterspodcast
"I want you to take a step back and review your videos like you’re watching your best friend instead of you. Do they really suck? Or are you just being hard on yourself?" - Tors Grantham on #videomatterspodcast
Firstly, what no one really tells you is that your videos are supposed to suck when you first start out. Everyone’s do, and you’re no different. This isn’t likely to be one of those things where you’re magically good at it on the first try, and if you are one of those people where a lot of things are magically easy for you then this is going to be a shock to the system. But I want you to understand that just because your videos suck, that doesn’t mean they’ll always suck.
You will get better at it, with practice.
The reason why your videos will suck when you first start making them is because it isn’t just one thing you’re learning to do. Very few things in this world are really just one thing, they’re made up of lots of things, and video is no different. For the purposes of this episode, I’m gonna break things down into chunks, to make it easier to identify areas you can work on and help you understand why video is a lot more complicated than most want to believe.
I also want to hit home that need for practice. You’ll only believe your videos don’t suck when you feel like you’ve mastered whatever it is you think you’re doing wrong, and that takes practice. You need to sit your butt down and do the work here, my friend, that’s the only way out of this. Practice and a willingness to learn from your attempts, that means watching stuff back and identifying areas that need improvement, not just making videos over and over and hoping for the best.
One of the things you need to practice is proper planning, it prevents piss poor performance. You can apparently thank the British Army for that one, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Your video’s chance of success can be exponentially increased by putting in the work up front. Planning really is the key to videos that don’t suck.
There’s a process around planning that starts with five questions to ask yourself. I go into those in detail in episode 12, but knowing the why, who, what, where, and how of your video can help you create something that’s more likely to engage viewers than if you just fly by the seat of your pants. Taking the time to sit down and work through all the things for your video, from specific shots to how you’ll deliver your content to editing techniques, can not only help you make a great video, it can speed up the time it takes to make it too.
And, let me be clear, those questions apply to any video format, from live to disappearing content to pre-recorded. By putting in the work to plan you’re more likely to be creating an audience experience that they’ll enjoy, and an audience that enjoys something will come back for more, because they like that feeling.
Practice doesn’t end there, you need to learn how to set up your equipment in a way that makes you look like a pro. That takes willingness to learn and adjust, because we’re unlikely to be filming in a television studio where everything is controllable, like light and sound. That means that depending on the time of day and the weather, our lighting needs may need adjusting, for example. You need to be willing to learn how to adjust what you’re setting up to meet the ever-changing requirements, and you can only do that by being willing to learn and adapt.
You also need to learn to understand the things you’re saying beyond your words, with your body, your voice, the way your frame yourself on screen, and the way you edit your videos together. There’s a whole secret language to video, combined with the subconscious ways we communicate, that’s a lot of room for misunderstandings. Too often I see people doing things on camera that kill their credibility, and they’re not even realising it.
Most of the miscommunication comes down to not understanding how video transmits the way we feel when we’re on camera. What we feel, the audience feels, making life an awful lot more interesting. Video is an intimate experience, it’s like sitting down with a friend for a conversation, but some of us aren’t so great at remembering that, and we display behaviours that are off-putting or distracting. Or we frame ourselves on screen in a way that makes the viewer uncomfortable.
Too often, video is created without thought for the audience and without reviewing the content from the audience’s perspective. We just want video to be easy, we want to be able to jump on a live and be rockstars.
It’s not that easy.
Believe me, I just broke my heart along with yours, because who doesn’t want things to be easy? Who doesn’t want to feel like a rockstar?
The problem with wanting to feel like a rockstar is that you approach your content from your perspective, it’s all about how it makes you feel and what it can do for you. And, oh boy, is that the wrong mindset to have.
The best way I can think of to get that rockstar feeling, is to make your audience and how they feel about what you’re creating the heart of everything you put out. People don’t just follow someone for the hell of it, they do it because that person makes them feel a certain way. All those rockstars out there, real or otherwise, aren’t influencers because they do a certain thing, they’re influencers because that thing makes people feel a way they love and want more of.
I’m sure you’ve had the need to identify your ideal customer beaten into your head by multiple people, I know I have, but what I think is failed to be communicated is that it isn’t about knowing who that is and then speaking to them. Or rather, it isn’t only that. With video, it’s about figuring out how to show up as yourself and deliver this content in a way that has an impact on the audience. How can you show up authentically and deliver the content in an engaging way, in a way that builds trust, in a way that’s not just phoned in because easy was prioritised over interesting.
I honestly believe that most of the sucky videos out there would either never have been made, or have been made exponentially better, if audience experience had been not just a priority, but the priority. There’d be no rambling, there’d be no videos that have no business being a video, there’d be a lot more effort and prep being put into them, and there’d be a big difference in results.
That’s the thing I really want you to take away from this episode, people will put up with crappy production values if the content makes them feel good, if it helps them, and if it’s delivered in a way that helps them trust you.
But, and this is important so listen up, you can’t get there without making videos that suck first. This is a learning curve that involves trial and error and you have to be okay with that.
You can’t learn without doing, and you can’t do without screwing stuff up. That’s really the best way to learn, make a mistake and learn from it. So my challenge to you is to start putting the audience’s needs above your own, be prepared to suck at that too, but do it anyway. Review stats, look at comments, figure out what you’re doing that resonates with the audience and then keep doing it.
Put the time in to figure out your equipment, take the time to plan, work out what you can do differently that’ll make your content more engaging. Watch yourself back, look for improvements you can make in how you appear on screen, your audience won’t connect with you if you’re not engaging. If you struggle to be yourself on screen, check out episode 9 where I talk about how to bring more you to your videos.
And finally, before you let yourself sink into that spiral of self-flagellation and despair, I want you to take a step back and review your videos like you’re watching your best friend instead of you. Do they really suck? Or are you just being hard on yourself? Sometimes, things aren’t as bad as we think they are, but it takes being objective to pull our heads out of our arses. If you can’t do that, ask someone you trust who loves you to review your videos. Ask them to start with what you do well and then ask for kind, constructive help identifying areas you could make better, this could be lighting or helping you understand you need to breathe more. Always tackle just one thing at a time, otherwise you risk overwhelming yourself and making it harder to see progress.
Remember, videos that suck are normal, you just have to work through this period to get past it. You can totally do this, I have the utmost faith in you. In the meantime, stop beating yourself up, learn to enjoy the process instead and your videos will stop sucking in no time.