So you’ve taken the first step and decided that you want to create a video. You’ve reached out to a reputable video production company and are ready to get started. Now what?

Managing your first video project can be both exciting and terrifying, exhilarating and confusing. In order to minimize the terrifying and confusing aspects, I will discuss my three top tips for preparing for your first video project. My hope is that by listening to these tips, you will enter your first video project feeling prepared and confident and will be able to work proactively, rather than reactively, throughout the video lifecycle, in order to help obtain optimal results.


1. Know your 5 W’s

You should ideally be able to identify these ‘5 W’s prior to the official kick-off meeting. Even though every kick-off meeting is different, based on the client and the type of project, below are some common topics that you should be prepared to discuss:

  • Who your primary and secondary target audience is: If possible, be able to describe a persona that represents your target audience, including age range, gender, income level, etc. We want to know as much as possible about the people who will be watching this video, in order for us to tailor the messaging so that the video speaks directly to and resonates with them.
  • What your primary objective is: It is important to differentiate between the objective and the method of achieving that objective. Another way to think of this question is to ask yourself what end result you would like to see from the video. Should this video persuade people to buy your product or service? Apply to work at your company? Donate money to your cause? Think about what action this video should inspire, and we can craft the video to be the catalyst.
  • Where you want to use the video: The reason for asking this question is that different types of videos are better suited to different channels. Is this video for an event where attendees will be in their seats watching a screen? Or will this video be used primarily for social media? If it’s the latter, you run the risk of losing viewers on the web who are easily distracted, in which case a short snappy video may be your best bet. If it’s the former, it’s more likely you can show a longer video — perhaps a documentary-style video — since the viewers are already in their seats and have their eyes on your screen.
  • When you need this video completed: Our project lifecycle is typically in the 8-12 week range; however, sometimes a video request is more urgent and needs to be completed within a month or even a couple of weeks. If you have a hard deadline, communicating that to us is crucial to our team so that we can be prepared to dedicate sufficient time and resources. If you don’t have a hard deadline but would like the video as soon as possible, let us know that as well, and we will work with you to identify a deadline and develop a schedule that works for everyone.
  • Why you want to use video to tell the story: Think about why you’ve chosen to use video as your method of communication. Why not communicate your message in an article or blog post, or in an e-mail or whitepaper? The answer should simply be that your message or story will be most effectively told through visuals, which leads me to another tip — when deciding what messages to include and leave out of the video, think about what information is essential to the visual story and what information can instead supplement the video through the written word. Focus on the visual story at hand.

2. Be prepared with examples

Think about videos you’ve seen recently — commercials on TV, viral videos on Facebook, movie trailers, anything — and ask yourself what specifically you liked (or didn’t like) about them. Did you like the tone of the music? Was the pacing too slow? Were there graphics that you found informative and engaging? Did you like the combination of still photography and video?

Most people know whether they like or don’t like a video, but few people are able to describe why. When preparing for your first video project, I recommend searching for various videos and then performing the same exercise as above. Be prepared to share a few different video examples and highlight features you’d like to see in your video. To get started, take a look at some of 522’s work on our website.

3. Anticipate next steps

After the kick-off meeting, I typically explain that the next step in the process is for the 522 team to discuss the information that we learned and use it to develop the Production Package. A common I hear from clients at this step is, “What can I do to help in the meantime?”

My advice is to 1) Communicate kick-off meeting notes to your team’s key stakeholders so that all involved parties are on the same page; and 2) Send as much information as possible that pertains to your company and the goal of your video — everything from your company’s brand guidelines/logos and background information on potential interviewees, to photos of potential filming locations and upcoming dates on which you’ll be out of town. To me, the pre-production phase is the most important because, as they say, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”; the more time we spend communicating in pre-production, the more efficiently everyone will be able to work during production and post-production. Seriously — the more information we have, the better.