Video is fast eclipsing the written word as a communications tool. According to, more than half a billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every day.  Estimates are that more than a million minutes of video content will traverse global IP networks every second by the year 2021.  The average user spends 88 percent more time watching website content, rather than reading it—and more is retained.  And it’s not just cat videos or funny moments with kids or DIYs that dominate our screens.  Companies and organizations use video to communicate important messages about products and services.

But just like the printed word, video is only as good as our ability to get the point across clearly, consistently and in an engaging manner. Unlike a written piece that can be skimmed quickly to determine whether the content is meaningful or useful, video requires the viewer to absorb information on someone else’s timeframe. And too many videos wind up building frustration instead of loyalty.

Here’s what I mean.  A few weeks ago, this email caught my eye:  Three Secrets to Creating More Revenue for Your Business.  The writer promised that clicking on the video would deliver a no-nonsense discussion of the mistakes business owners make and then, of course, the three secrets to avoid them.  I clicked. After promising not to spend much time talking about himself, he did exactly that for about 10 minutes.  (What was I thinking to hang in so long? But I really wanted to know the secrets!) When he finally got to the end 10 minutes later, there were no secrets—only an offer to take an online course where all would be revealed. I was so angry, I blasted him on his Facebook page (and I wasn’t alone!)

Don’t be that be click-bait video guy.  Here are my three secrets for how to use video effectively (no waiting involved).

  • Make your promise right up front. In the first 15 to 20 seconds, tell your viewer what you are going to talk about and why it’s beneficial. Tell your viewer about the journey you will take them on and the value they’ll get from going along. Don’t spend lots of time talking about who you are and why you are the best person to give them this information.  Leave that for the end.  If your promise is compelling, they will want to watch.
  • Keep your promise. This involves creating content that really matters to your target audience.  Speak to the aspirations, fears and frustrations of your viewer and how you will help achieve goals, or reduce or eliminate fears or frustrations.  The Prism of Value® offers a good model for how to frame your communication through that lens.  People will give you their attention and their dollars if you give them something they need or want.  Sounds basic but like our click-bait con artist, too many don’t communicate through this prism.
  • Do it quickly. Respect people’s time.  They are giving up some part of their day—their life—to listen to you. Don’t make people wait. Give them something that will delight, inform, and provide an unexpected insight right away.  Instead of creating 10 or 20 minute-videos, consider breaking them down into two- or three-minute segments.  And perhaps provide a written transcript for those of us who still like to read.

Like any other communications medium, video requires thoughtful consideration of who your audience is, what you offer that’s valuable, whether moving sound and images are the best way to grab and hold attention. Basic principles of storytelling apply.  Creating and delivering a powerful message wins the day every time no matter what the medium.