How to craft compelling video and make those first 15 seconds count

Andrew Angus and Heather McKibbon of Switch Video came to the Mesh Conference to share what they’ve learned creating more than 337 videos for clients big and small. Angus started off with a few statistics, one being that “85 per cent of customers are more likely to purchase with a video” and we know what a picture’s worth in words, but just one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.

Angus sums up his company, Switch Video, as “helping companies craft stories” that will help simplify what they offer in a way that will increase revenue. He talked about a video they created for Jellyfish Freight Management from Barrie,  Ont. recently. Once the client got the video they showed it to a lead and were able to close an $800,000 deal just days later. That’s the power of a a great video.

Dropbox’s initial video explained what they did, and Angus says “they actually funded their company based on a video and when they launched they based it on that video.” The video increased Dropbox’s conversion by 10 per cent in 2012, leading to more than $48 million in extra revenue.

Heather McKibbon of Switch Video

McKibbon came on stage to give the audience a recipe for the first 15 seconds of your video. She said it’s “well known that if people watch a video for 15 seconds, they’re far more likely to watch till the end.” In the first three to seven seconds it’s your job to get them to click on the video. She said “you need to make sure you have a great thumbnail” and you want to make it compelling so that people are enticed to click on it.

Make sure you have smooth transitions in your video; you don’t want to overwhelm the viewer with too many rapid fire transitions too quickly or you may end up losing them before they get engaged. McKibbon says that for people who want to show the logo at the start, to hold off, that “it’s something you want to build up to.” People need to be emotionally engaged with the content so that when you present the logo they’ll be ready and willing to really take it and the message in.

There are a lot of ways to do this. What Switch video does is focus on building that emotional connection and good characters, and presenting the problem in the form of a story. McKibbon said you have to make sure you “launch into a compelling story and not just start spitting out a bunch of facts and figures” which can start overwhelming people pretty fast.

At eight seconds McKibbon said people are used to the video and this is where you can start answering that initial question you asked just seconds earlier. You can change the angle or the scene to maintain their interest and hook them further into the message. When you get to 14 seconds, that’s when you present the logo. McKibbon explains that by that point the audience will be able to process the logo and be engaged enough to watch the rest of the video.

Now that you know they’re going to watch the whole thing, what do you do? McKibbon said go for suspense, that “people will accomplish huge tasks just to know what’s on the other end.” She said it’s about using those emotional hooks and the suspense that something’s about to happen is a very powerful thing.

McKibbon noted that Joseph Vedue found that humans were the only creatures that could project themselves into stories and it’s something you can use to model the change of behaviour you’re hoping your video to have. If you can get the viewer to see themselves in the video it helps them to see how your product will fit in their lives. You see these types of videos a lot because when done well, they work.

Andrew Angus and Heather McKibbon of Switch Video

Angus came back to the mic and said that although we only retain 10 per cent of what we read, if you have audio and video that increases retention by 68 per cent. He said to respect your working memory, which he sees as a “jug of water and if you pour in too much, it will just spill out the other side.” His statement about the jug of water is a metaphor which he uses in videos to use a person’s existing knowledge as context for what they’re trying to describe.

Using both audio and video gives the brain two paths to remember, which increases the odds of the person capturing the message. Along the same lines, McKibbon said that verbal overshadowing refers to the fact that if you had to pick a person out of a police lineup you’re going to be more accurate if you have not given a verbal description of the person.

McKibbon said that once you give that description, that verbal description will influence who you think you saw. That’s why if you use keywords in your video they’ll help reinforce the message. It helps the person because if they think or talk about the video they’ll be more likely to use the same keywords that were in the video because of the overshadowing effect.

The key takeaway from Angus and McKibbon is that you have 15 seconds to hook someone into your video so they will watch to the end. It’s about peaking their curiosity early and keeping them engaged throughout by building that emotional connection and telling them a story they can relate to. By understanding how and why we remember you can craft a video that will stick with a person and get them to say yes, rather than no, to what you’re offering.

Eric Floresca
Eric Floresca
Eric Floresca is a writer who is passionate for technology and currently a world wandering backpacker. He loves uncovering how entrepreneurs are changing our lives through innovation and what it takes to turn their ideas into reality. Eric has a degree in Business from the University of Windsor and has written for Techvibes, The Ad Buzz, and Marketing Magazine among others since he started on his own writer's journey.

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