Choosing The Right Environment For Your Demo Video

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Grant Baldwin: Welcome back to the Speaker Lab podcast. Today we got a great question all about your demo video.

Today’s question comes from Ronald Wilder, who asks:

“All of my video footage for my demo video is from church events. Do I need to get other video events if I want to appeal to businesses and to corporations?”

What’s a Demo Video?

Let me just quickly explain what a demo video is, so we’re all on the same page. A demo video is basically a highlight reel or a highlight video. Sometimes it’s called a sizzle reel of your speaking. Think of a like a movie trailer. They take a 90-minute movie.

They’ll boil it down to the best few minutes of that movie, and within those few minutes, you have a really good sense of what the movie is about, what the plot is, and what the theme is. That’s really what you’re trying to do with a demo video.

Let’s say you give a 45 or 60-minute presentation. Most decision-makers are not going to watch that long of a presentation. They’re going to watch a shorter video to get a sense of who you are as a speaker, your style, and what it is that you talk about.

That’s the point of a demo video. It’s usually about 3 or 4 minutes and just an overview of you as a speaker. Most decision-makers are going to want to see a demo video before they’re willing to book you.

Getting Video Footage

Maybe you’re in a spot where you’ve done a little bit of speaking before, but you just don’t have any video footage and that’s fine. I know a lot of speakers who are listening to this are in that spot. One of the things I want you to do is I want you to get in the habit of recording every talk that you do.

Even if you just take your iPhone and set it on a tripod. Just getting something is fine. Having good video footage is really important for any speaker. Whenever you’re creating your first demo video, especially for a new speaker, it’s a bit of the chicken or the egg situation.

How do I get footage if I don’t have any speaking engagements, and how do I get speaking engagements if I don’t have any footage?

There are generally two options that I recommend. One would be that you find a local event that you could speak at for free, and two is that you speak to an empty room. Both of these are ways that you could get video footage purely for a demo video.

Whatever footage you use, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s permanent. You don’t have to use it forever and ever. It may be something that you use for a few months. Get some better footage and swap it out, and make an updated video.

For me, currently, between the different audiences, we’ve got probably close to 10 videos — different demo videos that we’ve used over the years.

The analogy here that we use is it’s like if you were in charge of a club or a concert venue and a band wanted you to book them, one of the first things you’d want to do would be to listen to their music.

You wouldn’t just take the word for it. And so the same thing is true with speakers. If I’m a conference planner, remember, by hiring you, I’m putting my reputation on the line. I may have a boss who may be ticked off that I hired you if you do a bad job or if you embarrass the company or the conference in any way.

So I want to watch a video first. I want to get a sense of how you are as a speaker, of how you communicate, and how you interact with an audience. That’s why a demo video is so critical.

3 Things to Align

Before you make your demo video, you want to make sure that the footage is aligned with three different things that your decision-maker will be looking for: your audience, your topic, and your setting.

Let’s imagine I’m trying to position myself as someone who speaks to real estate agents about customer service. What I’m trying to communicate is I’m a speaker who’s trying to get booked to speak to real estate agents about customer service.

My website does a great job with that. It communicates and aligns with this. But my demo video is footage of me speaking to an audience of high school students at church about not using drugs.

There’s nothing wrong with that video. But is that a fit? If I’m someone in the real estate space and I’m looking at hiring the speaker in this hypothetical situation, and I come to the site and the audience, topic, and setting of the demo video aren’t in alignment, it’s going to be really difficult for me to want to hire you as a speaker.

The video doesn’t have to be me speaking to real estate agents about customer service, but it should be me speaking to at least a similar audience on a similar topic in a similar setting. If you had multiple audiences that you wanted to speak to that were vastly different, I would actually recommend that you would have separate demo videos for each of them.

I actually have demo videos that we’ve used for high school clients, college clients, educators and teacher clients, and corporate clients. Why? Because they’re all different audiences, different topics, and different settings. So if you have video footage of you speaking in a church setting, you may want to get different footage of you speaking in a corporate or more of a business environment.

Some of that’s going to depend on the footage that you already have and the setting of the video and what it is that you’re talking about. So let me give you an example here. Similar to Ronald, I actually started my career with footage of me speaking in a church setting, but I wanted to be able to use it for a demo video to speak to audiences in a non-church setting.

My footage was me speaking to a church youth group at a local church, but I wanted to be able to be hired to speak to students in like public high schools, school assemblies, and student leadership conferences. Even though the audience was the same, speaking to high school students, it was a slightly different setting, speaking in a church setting versus a school or conference setting.

But what I was able to do is that the video that was shot from that local church youth group, was shot in a room that you couldn’t really tell that it was in a church.

And even though I was speaking to a church audience and it was more of a spiritual or faith-based message, I was able to get three to four minutes worth of footage that was not faith-based and could really be used in any setting. I was able to use the footage because it could be edited in a way that you really couldn’t tell what the setting was.

So if your footage is super clear that you’re in a church with pews and a pulpit and church decor in the background, I would not recommend using that footage to market to a non-faith-based market. I would get brand new footage. Ideally, you want the footage that they see to be as close in alignment as possible with what it could be that you could do for their audience.

A decision-maker watching your video footage should feel like they could see this speaker presenting this to their audience. You don’t want to have this huge, vast divide where it’s hard to make that leap.

Great question, Ronald! Hope that helps.

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