Testimonials can be a powerful tool in marketing your service or product. Getting a professional to do the work will give the best results, but sometimes capturing a testimonial in the moment, can be powerful too. You can always get a professional to do the editing afterwards, and if you supply better thought out footage, this can be a great way of creating a fantastic looking testimonial to help your on-line marketing.
1. Timing & Pre-warning
If possible, getting feedback when someone is genuinely enthused about your product is ideal – this will be far more convincing than getting someone to remember how good an event was. Pre-warn the client that you would like to film a testimonial , and gauge their response – if they seem too unsure, or nervous about doing it, it’s probably worth leaving it, and then asking if there is someone better suited who doesn’t mind being in front of a camera – there are normally a couple of extroverts in any company team!
2. Try and find a suitable location in advance
Be prepared and find a suitable location in advance. Factors to consider are:
Find a place with minimal background noise – unless you have specialised audio recording equipment, background noise can make a great testimonial unusable.
Make the location as relevant as possible – eg. company logo in background
Not too many people around – this helps with background noise, but also can helpful when someone is a little shy
3. Have your questions prepared
Put some thought into good questions (prior to filming) and have them written down. Avoid closed questions like “Did you like using this product” which give you an answer “Yes” – Use more open questions like “How has this product benefitted your company?”. Give the questions to the client to look at shortly before the interview, so they know what you are going to ask.
If your filming on a phone or tablet, it’s useful to remember the following:
Always film in landscape, not portrait
Make sure your camera / device has plenty of storage available
Try and shoot in 1080HD
Try and use a tripod if possible, shaky footage is far less watchable. If you haven’t got a tripod get a cheap one from eBay (there are plenty for tablets and phones), or you can be creative (chairs / tables, cases & books etc…)
Make sure your camera / phone device / is reasonably close to the interviewee – ideally about 1 meter – this way you have a better chance of capturing louder & clearer audio
Don’t make the interviewee wait around while your setting up the shot – have it ready in advance
Ask the questions from behind the camera (maybe a little off to one side) and try to maintain eye contact throughout your interview – make it as natural a conversation as possible.
Once your set up, and before your interviewee arrives, do a test shot with one of your staff members, so you can play back and evaluate sound and vision – this way you can be confident you are capturing better quality footage, and this frees you up to really concentrate on making the client relaxed, and make sure you ask all the questions you need to ask during the interview.
4. Record the interview in 1 file
Just keep the camera running for the entire interview – even when you do a few takes. By not turning the camera on and off you will find the interviewee is more relaxed. It helps lessen the pressure of the situation for someone who is not used to being in front of the camera, and allows the interview to become more conversational and relaxed as time passes.
5. Shoot a few takes & Praise
Let the client know that you will shoot the testimonial a couple of times (I normally do 3 takes in professional situations). This takes a bit of pressure off the client, knowing they don’t have to get it right first time. Praise the interviewee regularly too (“your doing a great job!” etc…), and on the last take you do say something like “I think we have it, but we’ll do one more, just for insurance – you can relax and have fun with this one”. Often the last take, when a client feels the job is done, is the most relaxed and useable.
6. Shoot some Cut Away Shots and some Establishing Shots
Take some extra footage of the event, and the location. These shots can be very handy for anyone editing the testimonial, as they are used to hide the edits (as voice continues underneath) and also makes the video more engaging by not just being someone talking into a camera. Ideally about 10 short 10 second shots for a 2-3 minute testimonial gives an editor real freedom to make even a nervous interviewee look good.
7. Thank the client & definitely show them the final edit for approval before distribution.
This is just courtesy, should be obvious, but some people do forget. Getting back to selecting the right person for the testimonial – extroverts will be far more likely to be happy with what you have filmed, than someone who is shy and pushed into filming a testimonial.