11 Tips for effective videos

1 Engage your audience at the start

This means you must know your target audience.

You have 5-8 seconds to capture your viewer's attention before they go and look at something else. So use the first few seconds well, by engaging them at the start, don't waffle - get to the point.

Some opening suggestions: • Ask a question that's relevant to them    • Use an analogy to leverage related, topical, or everyday events    • Make a seemingly outrageous claim - then explain it    • Share a relevant incident that happened to you, and explain how it relates

2 Help, don't sell

People have become more aware of sales speak, and have an automatic resistance to it. Be informative and helpful rather than trying to sell all the time, and your viewers will be more likely to keep watching. This doesn't mean you shouldn't sell - it's about the balance between value, help, and selling.

3 Be interesting

Tell your story in an interesting manner:

  • Use your voice, with contrast (loud, quiet, in between) and emphasis (pronunciation, style, choice of words)
  • Actions - don't wave your hands about all the time, practice keeping them still until you want emphasis, then use them to effect and put them away until your next point
  • Facial expressions - show your smile off! But don't keep smiling if your subject is sad or serious.
  • Passion - don't just "read from your mind's eye", tell a story, share your passion!

No one enjoys watching a dead-pan delivery, if that's your style you can expect most viewers to click away – they will be far more likely to watch right to the end if you present your ideas with passion!

4 Include calls to action

Don't be shy to ask the viewer to do something, such as sign up for your newsletter, look at another video, subscribe to your YouTube channel etc.

Research shows that when you ask people to do something, they are much more likely to do it.

5 Keep your camera steady

Unless you're Stephen Spielberg, unsteady shots are generally quite hard to watch so viewers click away. Use a tripod, or rest your camera on a solid surface to keep the image steady. If you don't have a tripod and want to pan away to change the picture, try and do it slowly, use both hands, keep your elbows tucked in, and hold your breath. If you have an iPhone 5 or later, use the cinematic video stabilisation setting to get smoother action shots.

6 Use interesting angles

Adding visual interest to your shots helps to keep the viewer's attention. Shoot things at an angle rather than straight-on.

7 Light your subject well

Use light and shade to highlight areas of interest. Typically people first use even lighting which does not accentuate your presenter's features. When you use light that is brighter on one side of your presenter's face, it looks more interesting – the shadows create a more dynamic appearance.

The earlier models of iPhone have increasingly more requirements for light to get good image quality, so if you have an iPhone 4 it will need roughly twice the light that an iPhone 6 needs as a minimum to get past grainy, blocky images that lack clarity and proper colour rendition.

8 Make sure your subject is in focus

Learn how to adjust your camera's focus manually. With today's 'auto-everything' cameras, it's all too easy to expect that your subject will be focused correctly.

Beware of your camera's auto focus picking something else to focus on, so just check and adjust if necessary. Also be aware that earlier models of iPhone will 'hunt' focus if you leave it on auto, producing an unwanted and distracting flickery zoom effect. So if you have one of these, make sure you lock the focus before recording.

9 Check you have the right exposure

For example, you may wish to film someone with a window or other brighter light in the background. The effect will be to make your subject look quite dark.

If you're filming in sunlight or there are bright areas in your picture, the automatic exposure setting will often over-expose parts of the image - if that's part of your subject because sunlight is on their face or other areas, you have a problem.

Also learn about white balance and how to adjust your camera for different light quality (e.g. daylight vs indoor lighting). If you get this wrong, your video may have either an orange or blue appearance.

10 Get the best quality sound you can

Communication professionals will tell you sound is over 50% of your message when it's the spoken word. In most situations an external microphone used well and appropriate for your video setting will make a huge improvement.

11 Good presentation

This starts with congruity, sincerity, and passion. It's no good delivering bad news in a fun, entertaining manner, and it's ineffective trying to be someone other than yourself. Your viewers will pick it up straight away, honesty is the best policy. Consider hiring a trained presenter if you're better at other things and don't have the time to develop your presentation skills. On the other hand, presentation skills are a vital part of any business. If in your journey of producing your own videos you think you're not up to it, then consider how helpful better presentation skills would be to your business in general day-to-day dealing with prospects, clients, partners, board members etc.