The video shoot includes two cameras, six lights, an actress, several scripts and numerous hours of shooting video. However, I haven’t mentioned the challenging part.

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The objective involves creating a video series sharing critical information for an organization’s audience. The content is technical. Very technical. The organization’s legal team carefully reviewed the scripts before approving them.

After a lengthy set-up, we press record on both cameras. The client happily reaffirms the actress’ tone and delivery are exactly what they want. However, we encounter an unexpected challenge. The actress reviewed the scripts but she struggles to deliver the lines accurately word-for-word. We acknowledge the challenge and continue to praise and support her efforts. But the process of recording the lines accurately is taking much longer than anyone anticipated. I sense frustration from the client and we start getting questions.

I don’t know if another actress could memorize the lines more effectively. This just might be the most technical script we’ve ever worked with for a video shoot. There’s little to no room for error. I imagine even the most focused, Academy Award-winning actress would struggle with these scripts.

Video is one of the most effective ways to deliver your company’s key messages. However, all messages are not simple. What can we learn from the above experience?

Look toward your own team first. When delivering technical content to audiences, there’s usually already someone internally, if not an entire team, who already knows the information inside and out. Could anyone on staff also play the role of on-camera talent? This would prevent the necessity for an outsider — in our example, an actress — from attempting to deliver lines that he or she might not fully grasp. We infer in our example, no one on staff was comfortable attempting to deliver the contest, which reinforces the challenge of this particular project. If you decide to hire an actor or outsider, provide them scripts ahead of time, set your expectations and plan for patience.

Confirm the ability to adlib. In our example, legal reviewed and approved the scripts. This is not uncommon. However, the inability to change or adlib even in the slightest surprised us. Not all words change the meaning of a message. And compelling someone to deliver complex lines word for word becomes discouraging to the person and risks losing a delivery with authenticity. Beforehand, work collectively to decide if any portions of the script allow for reasonable ad libbing. What words and phases are a must and which ones wouldn’t alter meaning?

Toss out the tongue twisters. The client’s scripts included a variety of tricky tongue twisters, which added fuel to the linguistics fire. Keep things simple.

Forget including all the figures. Asking someone to memorize and deliver a litany of figures can be a burden. However, you don’t need someone to share a multitude of data while appearing on camera and looking into the lens. With video (and other forms of communication), there are more powerful ways to share this type of information. For example, use motion graphics, which can grab more attention.

Invest in a teleprompter. A teleprompter enables someone to read scripts word for word while looking directly into a camera’s lens. However, hiring a professional to load a teleprompter with scripts and operate it is an expense. Alternatively, you could invest in equipment allowing you to turn a tablet into a teleprompter. However, reading from a teleprompter is an art requiring experience and isn’t in everyone’s comfort level. Executives have printed out scripts and asked us to tape the papers to the bottom of the lens. Nearly every time, it’s obvious the executives are reading and the goal of speaking with trust and authenticity is lost.  

Remember, it’s video! Recognize that video doesn’t require someone to appear on camera throughout the segment. Having a talking head on camera for a video’s entirety isn’t a solid strategy for creating distinct content and  keeping an audience’s attention. Decide which segments (such as an intro and outro) actually require someone to appear on camera. Then allow that person to read the remaining parts directly from the scripts. In post production, include compelling video and motion graphics to cover the segments when the person is reading and essentially playing the role of a narrator. This approach maximizes production time.  

Author: Keith Yaskin is president of The Flip Side Communications LLC, a Scottsdale media company that helps companies tell their stories through video production, public relations, media training and employee communications.