How To Produce a First-Class Speaker Video That Rocks!

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They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but most of us judge people by the way they talk, the way they dress, what they say and how they say it. We form opinions about people the first time we see or hear them. We even form opinions about people we’ve never met!

Think about it! Speaker bureaus & meeting planners do the same thing. They make a judgment about you based on one item… your Speaker Video. It’s a known fact that the single most important marketing tool for getting you booked as a professional speaker is your Speaker Video. This single tool can make or break you when it comes to being reviewed by those who make the decision to hire speakers. Make a great first impression and you’re good to go. Make a bad one and well…

There are plenty of stories of well-known & highly regarded celebrities, authors, and so-called “experts” whose Speaker Video un-sold them to the meeting planner. Their credibility was lost because of a bad video… be it from poor production, weak content, or lack-luster presentation skills, the results were the same. NO BOOKING!  And worse, the negative word-of-mouth generated from a bad video can be detrimental to your success via the small community of speaker’s bureaus.

A Speaker Video is the ultimate calling card for professional speakers. Without one, you are not considered to be a “real speaker”. With a bad one, you are considered a “bad speaker”.  With a good one, you can quickly rise to the top of your niche market; you can increase your fee; and you can become the talk of the industry within a very short time. Word gets around quickly with bureaus and meeting planners whether it’s good or bad. Hopefully the word on you is good!

The following tips should help you on your journey to producing a “First-Class Speaker Video That Rocks!”

  • Understand Your Audience. Understand the mindset of the meeting planner. Like all of us, meeting planners are overworked & overwhelmed.  It’s not uncommon for a meeting planner to view 100 videos to book just 20 speakers for their event (five videos per speaking slot).  They want a speaker who will excite and engage their attendees… one who is entertaining, insightful, humorous, and motivational. Bottom-line, one who delivers a content-rich presentation with enthusiasm. So they’re looking for a video that quickly grabs their attention, one that is unique and stands out from the crowd, and one that captures the essence of the speaker doing what he/she does best… speaking.
  • A First Impression Happens Only Once.  Don’t blow it. Your first goal with your speaker video is to get into what I call the “maybe” pile. This is the group of videos that make it past the “trash” pile and into the “maybe” pile to be viewed again later with much more detail. The FIRST TWO MINUTES OF YOUR VIDEO NEED TO ROCK! Without question, this is the most important part of your video. If you waste any time with unnecessary baloney… the announcer with the voice of God talking about how great you are; or you talking straight to the camera introducing yourself to the viewer talking about what is to come on the video; or 45 seconds of fancy graphics, testimonials and sound effects all building up to your spinning logo, then it will all be worthless and you’ll be certain to make it into the “trash” pile. The first two minutes need to be GREAT. Include short clips of you doing your best material. Mix it up with some humor, poignant sound bites, engaging moments and exciting audience reactions. Couple this with high quality graphics and compelling music should move you to the top of the heap and into the “maybe” pile.
  • Be Good. Really, Really Good.  This may sound trite, but it is important. Many times speakers have not put their presentation under the magnifying glass and taken a hard look at what they are saying and how they are saying it. As a producer/director/editor, I’m constantly writing and rewriting the story in order to deliver it in the best possible light. When I produce speaker videos, many times I end up editing the speaker’s stories to where they are better than the original. Some of the speakers say, “Wow, I didn’t know I was that good.” I challenge them to go and edit and re-write their presentation so they can be as good as their demo. So it’s always better to be really good before you shoot your speech. It will make your Speaker Video that much better.
  • Work With A Performance Coach Before You Shoot Your Presentation.  Many of you are thinking that this doesn’t apply to you. And if you’re thinking that, chances are you could use a coach. Every speaker worth his or her salt can benefit greatly by getting professional coaching on presentation and performance skills. Why many speakers don’t think they need this boggles my mind. Every successful actor, musician, athlete, or CEO has had some kind of specialized training to get him or her to the top of their field. And many continue to get coaching even when they’re at the top. You may offer expert advice on a topic, you may even have written the defining, best-selling book, but that doesn’t mean you are a great presenter. Great presenters have great coaches.
  • Video Tape Multiple Presentations. Videotape as many presentations as possible. You often don’t discover until it’s too late that the stage and room set up was going to be so professional looking or that the audience would be so responsive. And even if you bomb you can always learn from studying yourself on tape.  Moreover, when producing your demo video, you only need to excerpt small segments of great content. And those segments don’t all have to come from one location. As a matter of fact, multiple presentations give a more polished look to the video. They provide credibility, by showing you speaking to different groups at different times. So hire a professional crew and press record whenever possible.
  • Only Use Professional Videographers That Know The Speaking Business For Your Live Shoots!  This is very important. There are a great number of really good videographers who will say they are capable of shooting your live speech. Beware. Shooting a live speaker event needs special attention and most camera operators don’t capture the experience properly without a “Director” calling the shots for them — camera placement, speaker framing, audience shots, audio configurations, etc. – all are important decisions that must be made by an experienced source. “Live” means you only have one take. There are no second chances in a live production. Most videographers don’t work in a “live” situation and are not aware of the many potential problems… until it’s too late. Also, ask the camera operator if they are an editor as well as a shooter. If they’re not, don’t use them. Only someone who shoots and edits can fully understand how to shoot an event without the guidance of a Director. A quick note about rates for a professional videographers… the national average for a “one-man band” videographer (1 HD or DVCam video camera, wireless audio setup, and a small 3-light lighting kit) runs about $800 – $1000. A two-man, two-camera package would run about $1500 – $2000. Some video crews offer full-day rates and half-day rates. If you book a crew at a half-day rate for 5 hours and you roll over into 6, you are automatically billed the full day rate. Full days typically start at first crew call of the assignment and end when the assignment is wrapped, even if small breaks or lunch were taken in between.
  • A Two-Camera Shoot Is Better Than One. Three Is Best.  A two-camera shoot is always better than a single camera. Having two different angles to cut between is a huge plus when it comes to editing the video. You can set this up in one of two ways. The most obvious approach is to hire two people to shoot two cameras. Camera 1 follows the speaker framed “feet to waist up” and never loses site of the speaker. Camera 2 moves around the room shooting the speaker from different angles and capturing a variety of crowd shots. It’s important for the second camera operator to NEVER stop recording even when he/she is moving the camera from one location to another. A 2nd camera that doesn’t have continuous footage causes big problems in editing. The second option for producing a two-camera shoot is to do what I do many times (and is a little less expensive than hiring two camera operators.) Camera 1 is positioned as in the situation above. Camera 2 is positioned right next to it, but has a different framing. I monitor both cameras and frequently change the angle as needed. Several times throughout the presentation, I move Camera 2 to a different location and frame accordingly. This gives the final product that highly desired, multi-camera look, but without the extra expense of two people. The only drawback is not getting specific B-Roll shots of the audience. This would require a second camera operator. Which brings me to the best-case scenario: Three cameras, but with only two people. Combine the two situations above and you can really get great coverage for your event.
  • Dress Out The Stage For A Bigger Look. Think Big.  This is a real problem most speakers come up against at one time or another. The staging for most events is the standard hotel ballroom or meeting room with a small stage positioned against a wall. Many times the stage is blocking a doorway with an EXIT sign appearing right behind the speaker. Sometimes, there is not even a stage, but just a small area at the front where the speaker is to stand. At other times, a podium is positioned right in the middle of the presentation area. These scenarios are all very common. The best situation is to have as large a stage as possible with “Pipe and Drape” used for the background. This is something that all hotels can provide. You’ve seen this… the black or blue curtains that stands behind the stage. This offers a professional look and can be enhanced with a variety of props, special lighting, plants, scrims, video screens, etc. to make your event appear larger and more professional. Talk with the meeting planner a few weeks ahead of time and see if they can provide any of this for you. If they don’t want to pay the associated fees, see if they will split the expense or as a last resort… pay for it yourself. Typical cost for pipe & drape with plants shouldn’t run more than $400 – $500. Definitely worth the expense for your video shoot.
  • Open Strong… Finish Great. In the world of entertainment production, “beginnings and endings” are the most important part of any production. At the beginning of a television show, you are competing with so many other options… 200 other channels, the Internet, family commitments, hobbies, personal agendas, reading or whatever. Again, the first two-minutes have to “hook” the viewer or the viewer will change the channel. The same is true in a live event. You have two-minutes to capture the attention of the audience or they will tune you out. If you come on stage and talk about how good it is to be here or how difficult your arrival flight was, or something unrelated to your message, then you’re missing your best opportunity to gain audience buy-in. The same applies to your video: The first two-minutes need to ROCK!
  • Work Only With A Producer Who Is An Expert In The Speaking Industry.  By now you should have a pretty good understanding of why it’s important to work with a producer or production team who is highly experienced in the speaking industry. This is not the area to cut corners, nor is it the area to pinch pennies. Remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for.” Speakers often complain to me that their videographer didn’t get the shots they had hoped for, or the audio was bad, or the videographer ran out of tape and missed the standing ovation, or they didn’t use a tripod and the footage is therefore shaky and unusable. There are a number of stories like this and the usual accompanying comment is… “Well, I got a good deal on the camera team and saved some money” or “I thought they would know what to do” or “It’s just a video shoot how hard can it be?”

I promise you cannot go wrong by getting expert assistance in producing your live event and speaker video. The money spent on these items will return to you many times over, provided your content, delivery and performance skills are polished and professional. Remember this… in the speaking industry a great first impression is worth very big bucks. Don’t miss the opportunity.

Robin Creasman is a motivational speaker/entertainer, an award-winning television producer, author, marketing and entertainment expert who speaks to business leaders, salespeople, entrepreneurs, small business owners and professional speakers on how to Stand Out, Market and Perform Like A Rock Star whether they are on-stage, in the boardroom or on a sales call so they can grow their business, make more money and be more successful. You can reach him at


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About the Author

Award-winning television producer, motivating keynote speaker, former touring musician and recording artist for USA Records, and entertainment industry expert known as The Rockstar Speaker & Presentation Coach.

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