As a technology content marketing professional, one of my favorite projects to work on are testimonial videos. I interview customers while they film themselves, then edit it down to create the finished video and case study document. I have the opportunity to creatively tell the story of how my client’s technology has positively impacted their customer’s business.
Acting is Hard
Since I started filming testimonial videos a few years ago, I’ve grown to have more respect for the profession of acting. It’s difficult to recite lines you’ve memorized without sounding like you’re just reading. Memorizing lines is difficult, and infusing sincerity is particularly challenging.
Considering these customers are doing us a favor, I don’t want to ask them to memorize a script. I want them to have a discussion with me, and I then worry about editing down.
Cut the Cuts in Testimonial Videos
In an attempt to minimize how many cuts I have to make to arrive at the finished product, one client requested that I ask customers up to three questions, and request that they answer in a single stream. I did so, but many find it difficult to recall every item. I think this is understandable. Looking at yourself on video is awkward enough. Knowing you’re being filmed for posterity as a representative of your business makes it that much more nerve-wracking.
So, what do I do?
I reassure them.
And I’m good at it.
Why I need to Reassure Interviewees
I’ve repeatedly heard customers apologize and make self-deprecating comments regarding their performance. “I’m sure I’m going to be one of your worst videos.”
So, I hear them communicate, “I’m feeling bad about myself, self-conscious and awkward, and even a bit guilty that my failure to remember all the questions is an inconvenience to you.”
First off, we’re usually not paying customers for their time. They do this as a favor, so I’d like to make it as easy and painless as I can. But secondly, it does not inconvenience me to have to edit it out when they say, “Wait, what was the third thing?” That’s part of the job.
What We Want to Capture in Testimonial Videos
But most importantly, we want to capture sincerity. Genuine reactions. Heartfelt appreciation for how this software or service improved their work lives personally, as well as their businesses overall.
And it’s hard to express genuine gratitude when you’re feeling awkward and self-conscious.
So, again, I reassure them. That’s part of my job… a part I suspect many don’t realize I need to do, let alone understands how I do it.
How I Reassure Interviewees
I joke with them. I talk about some of my worst ever videos, one where the customer kept leaning over to, I suspect, scratch his ankle, so he’d move completely out of the frame. Another interview was conducted by my colleague at a tradeshow and the background noise was horrible. We ended up being completely unable to use it. And yet two more, the men ended up moving out of frame. The tops of their heads were cut off.
I laugh as I tell customers these stories. I hope my humor communicates that I’m not disappointed or annoyed at their need to pause, start over, or ask me to prompt them for the third thing. And those needs do not make a performance bad. These attempts always seem to be successful. Customers laugh along with me. When I resume the interview, they seem more relaxed and sincere.
But most importantly, even if some aspects of any performance were less than ideal, I still have a person on camera saying their business benefitted from an investment in my client’s technology.
That can never be a bad thing.