Four Tips for Adding a Human Element to a Product Video

Video Should Showcase Product, Business Personality

A product video should be built with a purpose in mind, and it should communicate something that text and imagery alone cannot. For ecommerce companies, product videos have become increasingly important, with 73% of online shoppers saying they’re more likely to make a purchase after watching a video. While text may be the best place to list features, a video should go beyond that and show how a product works or establish a personality for a product. Generally, on-screen interviews can help to narrate a product video and communicate that the product has personality and purpose. Here are four tips for adding a human element in your product video by using an interview to increase the product’s appeal.

Find the Right People

The most obvious people to speak in a product video might be the CEO or the Product Manager, in other words, the authorities on this subject. But those might not be the best people to speak to your target audience. The interviewee should be genuine, likeable, and able to communicate their excitement and expertise about the product through emotion. If that happens to be the CEO, then that’s great. But keep in mind that the right interviewee could be an engineer, a marketer, or even someone working on the assembly line. Ask around to find the right person with the right energy, and aim to find someone who can make the features and benefits sound life altering.

Our creative lead at Vertical Rail, Michael Cestaro, explains it like this, “The best thing you could do in a product video is sound like my buddy or someone I can trust and give me a recommendation.” The target audience should be able to identify with the speaker, so make sure to choose someone who has a similar background, knowledge, and vocabulary as the target audience.

Prepare Questions

Any successful project requires a lot of planning, and the questions you prepare before the shoot should be planned out to address the purpose of the video. Before the shoot, decide on the goal of the video, and then prepare questions around that. If the goal of the video is to explain the how the product was ideated, then you should have questions prepared that ask about the moment that inspired this product. If the purpose of the video is to explain how the product works, then the questions should be framed around how the design solves a problem. Make sure to prepare plenty of relevant questions, and use follow up questions to squeeze out important details.

Embrace Unpredictability

During an on-screen video, your interviewee inevitably will have a moment of spontaneity when he or she will mention an interesting detail that you were unaware of or go off on a tangent that seems unrelated. These unpredictable moments make the video feel genuine, and these moments can reveal a spark of inspiration that might shape how the video ends up. Make sure to capture these moments on camera and ask follow up questions before reverting back to the list of questions.

Get People to Open Up

It is crucial to get your interviewee to feel comfortable speaking and expressing themselves in front of a camera, and we’ll admit that this is more art than science. The motto we follow is “Don’t script it; frame it.” Tell someone the details they need to mention, but don’t tell them exactly what words to use or how to describe the details. Their natural language, gestures, and emotions will flow naturally when they don’t have a prepared message.

On the same point, create an environment where people are comfortable expressing themselves. Andrew Arenson, the Marketing Director here at Vertical Rail, puts a lot of thought into making interviews feel genuine. “People only have a finite amount of energy to expend into a video. If they’re stressed out in the beginning, you might only get a few minutes of their attention before they need to stop shooting for the day.” In most situations, you should find a quiet room with no other coworkers present. Make sure to observe non-verbal cues in your interviewee. Ask additional questions or change the subject if you notice your interviewee becoming stressed or bored with the topic. It can take time, sometimes a few hours, to get someone to feel comfortable, so be patient. Most of all, try to make it a fun experience that the interviewee doesn’t take too seriously. This strategy will help you extract genuine moments that make your product video shine.


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