It's very difficult to fake it on video, viewers of a video testimonial pick up on not just the words used but the nuances in the body language, the tone of voice and the enthusiasm that is being conveyed. It's for exactly this reason that video testimonial are fantastic tools for promoting trust in your products or services.
Here are some important things to keep in mind and to do your best to achieve that will help make the shooting of testimonials go smoothly and ensure the delivery of a great finished video.
Essentially clients or business partners that have had a positive experience using your products or services are the people you want to request a testimonial from. People that were perhaps skeptical beforehand but were subsequently won over by an aspect of what you provide can often make for especially compelling testimonials. Also consider asking people who have a particularly interesting story to tell about how they were assisted by your company to achieve their goals.
The questions you ask may vary depending on your company and the sort of responses you are after but here's a list of some standard questions that can be used or modified as needed.
1. What's your name, position and the company you work for? This is to establish some credibility in the person giving the testimonial. Most likely however this information is something that can be better provided with a lower third graphic, saving a bit of time and possibly adding some visual interest as well.
2. How did you hear about us? Establishes, without explicitly stating it that the person giving the testimonial hasn't been your buddy since high school.
3. What led you to try us? This gives the person giving the testimonial an opportunity to talk about the problem they were facing.
4. Tell us about your personal experience with us? Specific answers are what you want here. Something like "it was great" doesn't tell us much, we want to know specifically what was great and how it helped?
5. If you hadn't tried us, what would have been the reason why? This is an interesting question to ask because on the face of it it's a rather negative question, prompting the person giving the testimonial to think of reasons they might not have used you. If however the person giving the testimonial has a positive attitude towards the company (and most do), they are very likely to reply by turning this question around. For example "I was initially a little worried that buying online there wouldn't be any follow up customer support... but after using the company for 2 years now I have to say the customer support they offer is the best I've ever come across". We hear about the concerns and objections they had before trying you and then about the positive experience they had once they did.
6. Would you recommend us to others?
7. Would you like to add anything? This is important to ask, often they will say no but many times they will have something really important to add that just didn't fit with one of the questions you had prepared.
Having the camera on you is often a strange new experience and something the person giving the testimonial might well be feeling nervous about. It's important to keep the atmosphere friendly and relaxed, it can often help to reassure the person giving the testimonial that only the good bits will be used and that anything that is unflattering or that might make them look stupid will be edited out.
Some testimonials are done direct to camera, and this style works fine if you have someone who is comfortable doing this. Most testimonials however involve the person giving the testimonial talking to an interviewer just off to the side of the camera. Having a conversation with a real person usually produces far more natural, relaxed responses than if the person has to stare down the lens of the camera.
To get good clean audio the interviewer needs to remain silent while the person giving the testimonial talks, this can feel a little strange having to refrain from giving any verbal feedback but the interviewer can nod and smile to help assure the person giving the testimonial that their answer is being listened to.
Before the interview it's important to let the person giving the testimonial know the following tips...
1. Incorporate some of the question into the answer. The interviewer's questions will usually be cut out so the questions need to be answered in a way that puts the answer in context. For example if the question was "would you recommend Bobo's Rabbit Hutches to others?" the reply "Yes I definitely would!" isn't going to work without the question. The answer needs to be something like "I would definitely recommend Bobo's Rabbit Hutches to anyone who wants to bread angora rabbits professionally".
2. Keep looking at the interviewer after you finish answering each question. Often people will glance at the camera or away to other people in the room as they finish answering a question. If these glances can't be edited out then this has the effect of breaking the illusion of it just being a conversation between two people. The viewer of the video suddenly becomes very conscious of the camera, crew and everything else in the room.
3. Wait a moment before you answer. As well as giving the person answering time to consider their reply, waiting a moment before answering helps avoid the interviewers last words in the question getting mixed up with the answer.
3. Don't be afraid to stop when you've come to a natural finish point in you answer. As the interviewer isn't giving any verbal feedback it can feel like there is a need to carry on talking to fill the silence. When people don't stop once they have said what they want to say it can make for rambling answers which are then difficult to take clear succinct sound bites from in the edit. For video testimonials, specific answers that get right to the point are good.
It is often said that people will put up with a bad picture but they won't listen to bad sound. The long and the short of it is that getting good audio is really important.
Aside from the correct placement of a quality microphone and setting of audio levels, the major factor that will affect the quality of the audio will be your choice of location for the testimonial.
Consider the sounds in the environment that the testimonial will be shot in, is there a fridge or air conditioning unit making a constant hum that could be turned off? Are the phones in the office or people talking in the room next door going to be heard? Traffic noise from a busy street outside? The human ear is very good at focusing in on just what we want to listen to, microphones unfortunately don't have this ability, they just pick up everything.
If you can see what is making the noise within the frame of the shot then it may be quite desirable to hear a little of that background noise during the testimonial as long as it's not making it difficult at all to hear the testimonial itself. If what's making the noise however isn't referenced in the shot then it's most likely going to be distracting to the viewer and the noise should be eliminated as much as possible or a new location found.
People giving testimonials are most likely to feel more comfortable if it's shot in a familiar setting like their own home or office.
If it's possible it's often good to have something representative of the product or service in the background. So if your product is a forklift then having someone give their testimonial while seated in or standing in front of a forklift might work well. This can often lead to a trade off in audio quality however when getting an appropriate background would mean shooting in a noisy environment.
Setting up good lighting makes a huge difference to the quality of the image produced. In some situations it may not be practical to set up lights in which case choosing a space that is naturally well lit is usually your best option.
For the best looking image though taking the time to get the lighting right (preferably before the person who will do the testimonial arrives) is essential. This may involve modifying the available natural lighting or it may involve setting up to 3 or 4 lights and light modifiers for the job.
If lighting equipment is to be used then make sure to shoot in a room that isn't too small. As well as plenty of space in front of the person giving the testimonial for the camera and lights, you'll also want to have some distance between them and the background so as not to have shadows cast on anything behind them. Having this distance between the subject and the background also helps in achieving an out of focus background if that's desired.
I hope this list of things to consider for organising a testimonial shoot has been helpful. This blog is somewhat longer than I intended when I started typing but if you're reading this then you've obviously made it through.
If you'd like to inquire about getting some testimonial videos made for you business or organisation please feel free to contact VideoKraft anytime.