3 minute read
Even the word “technical” sounds kind of boring, right? As a purveyor of technical videos and consequently a visitor of several office buildings/factories/work-sites/airplanes, I have seen several orientation/legal/safety/technical presentations. The presentations are packed with important do’s and don’t’s, lists of things to avoid, directions to everywhere, scary what-ifs and legal mandates. It’s rare to find individuals excited to be sitting through this process. But we have to, right? It’s important to our health and safety and the company’s legal responsibilities. However, it’s difficult to remember all of the appropriate information after said video. The company doesn’t love presenting the information, the audience doesn’t love sitting through it and I – well I consider this a challenge. It’s a dilemma for the audience and a dilemma for those of us who create that presentation.
So what’s the answer? A fun example if you have a huge budget, is the following video from Virgin Airlines. They took something most of us routinely ignore and made it fun to watch. They could have patted themselves on the back after they finished their original song, dance moves, set design and costumes. But they were careful to seamlessly include the important technical information. And that’s the hard part.
If you don’t have a Virgin Airlines budget, what are your technical video choices? If you aren’t careful, a musical or comedy technical video may come off as not serious enough. Most of the time, the information is pretty specific and carved in stone. So there are a couple of realities to keep in mind with technical videos. First, this information is seriously important for our safety. Second, when the &$#& happens, your audience WILL wish they paid attention.
The challenge is to determine the difference between what the audience will remember, what is seriously important and how to keep the audience’s attention. Plus you need to help them understand the gravity of retaining this information. In the beginning, this information is kinda like your baby. You think your baby is the most attractive, smartest, most athletic and on and on. But unfortunately your baby is not Matthew McConaughey. Your information baby is quite smart and has something important to share, but it is not nearly as sexy nor as interesting as a MM movie. Most likely, you are also not Virgin Airlines. Now that you have come to terms with this reality, you can begin the editing process.
As you consider the scripting and shooting process, you must constantly ask yourself, “What would Matthew do”. It would involve repeating an “Alright” phrase shirtless. No, just kidding. You should never do that. After every sentence, you should think, “Will my audience remember this two hours later?” That will keep your video concise and short. Avoid using narrative that is not visual, avoid long bullet lists, avoid information that is too technical and keep it simple, stupid. Even if your audience are all MENSA members, they too will get bored and ignore the information if you make them.
Finally, there is no perfect formula for making a technical video that works. But if you constantly consider your audience and remember that not everyone loves your baby like you do, people will appreciate your baby and remember it’s technical features two hours later. Alright, alright, alright.
About the Author
Steve Simkins directs and produces videos at North By Northwest. His storytelling ability lies somewhere between LL Cool J and Jerry Lewis. He’s been making videos since he was a wee lad. Steve’s afro is not that big and he is nothing like LL Cool J.