Now Streaming: Practical Tips for Budget-Friendly Internal Videos

The days of “lights, camera, action” are different. Now that everyone has a video camera and player at their fingertips on their smartphones, videos are not just accessible – they’re expected. Top internal communicators use video regularly for good reason: video engages, adds a human element, boosts information retention and reduces the need for meetings.

With this growing demand – and cost much less of a barrier – you should strongly consider whether it makes sense to include video in your strategic communication plan. As with any communication vehicle, you need to weigh its benefits with possible limitations. Below are a few elements to keep in mind.

Crystalize the Concept

A common mistake is trying to do too much in one video, which waters down the message and complicates the process. To avoid this, ensure that everyone is aligned on the video’s intended purpose and how it fits into the larger communication plan. Investing a few minutes in a creative brief or outline will save time down the road.

In your planning, choose a video type that works for the story being told, such as:

  • A talking head message, which can increase a leader's visibility, set the tone and inspire
  • An animated explainer video, which can simplify a key concept for colleagues
  • A short ad-like video, which can boost morale or reinforce a desired behavior

The type of video you choose will determine what kind of preparation will be needed. Identifying your goals ahead of time will help you identify which success metrics you want to capture.

Be Equipped

For videos that you’re shooting yourself, you just need a smartphone or webcam. You can use your laptop to prop your phone against the screen and show script notes, and you can record others using video conferencing tools.

To take it up a notch for minimal budget, purchase a vlogging kit, which often includes a tripod, external microphone, lighting element and phone holder. Test and practice using any equipment before your shoot.

Prepare the Set

If you’re recording via videoconference or asking someone to self-record, join the call or provide clear instructions. If possible, meet with the subject first to review the tone and purpose of the video and to ensure an optimal recording space. Lighting should be natural-looking and front-facing. Framing should be appropriate with a neutral, uncluttered background. Reduce background noise and mute all alerts.

Most important, make sure the subject feels supported. The person should appear comfortable and natural, with minimal need for editing or script reading. For a conversational tone, verbally prompt the speaker with questions and edit them out later.

Get Creative

Your video will likely need at least some basic edits before it’s ready for an audience. You can use software such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Premiere Rush, iMovie or even the Photos app in Windows for simple cuts.

Editing for internal communications need not be a big production. In fact, a lighter touch leads to more authenticity. Editing techniques such as zoom, crossfade and punch-in (where the camera appears to move slightly closer to the speaker) are relatively easy to learn online. To disguise an edit, you can cut away to b-roll, or stock video (pixabay.com or pexels.com are royalty free resources). Add background music to liven up the audio or set a mood (bensound.com is a royalty free resource). Any edits should be timely and purposeful, not distracting or over-produced.

Even if you have no video subject available, you can still use video! Screen recordings or animated videos are great for explainers, webinars, tutorials and training. A short animation can grab attention on your intranet page or Yammer feed. Use an online animation tool such as Videoscribe, Animaker or Vyond. Or, you can simply use PowerPoint and export a video or record your screen. The “morph” slide transition can add visual interest. You can also find templates online with engaging animations (slidemodel.com is a helpful paid resource).

Remember, your video will need somewhere to live, so make sure you have somewhere to house it online, such as on your intranet. Your video platform should be something that employees can access easily and yet is secure enough that only your intended audience is able to view it.

Roll the Credits – and the View Counts

Congratulations – your video is posted, and everyone is ecstatic! Now it’s time for measurement. The video’s view count is a straightforward way to understand your reach. Depending on features of the platform you use, you may also have access to data such as the play rate – the number of people who began watching your video – and the retention rate – how much of the video viewers watched and which parts were most frequently watched. Factor in any qualitative feedback such as likes, shares and comments, through enterprise social media, email or word of mouth. Finally, track the effect on business goals and any changed behavior.

It’s a Wrap

Get comfortable with video, because it’s here to stay. This year, the average person will consume 100 minutes each day – an equivalent of 25 contiguous days – of online video. And that number will likely increase, as younger workers are twice as likely as baby boomers to want more visual communications at work.

The good news is video – even low budget – can be highly valuable when well planned. The data show that high production quality isn’t as important as connection and relevance; people are more likely to watch content that reflects the topics they’re interested in and passionate about.

What is your team’s experience using video internally?

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