How to make the most of your speaker demo reel

Budget Video – Breakout Results

If you are a professional speaker trying to break into the “next tier” of paid jobs or get noticed by a speaker’s bureau, a demo video of you in action is a must. The purpose of a demonstration tape is to let your best self shine through, giving a potential client a representative sampling of you on the platform. Make sure yours does that by following these suggestions and avoiding the “Seven Deadly Sins” of Demo Videos. You’ll have more quality footage to choose from, the opportunity to create more customized demos for your niche audiences and it will have cost you less money overall.

The Seven Deadly Sins of speaker demo videos:

1. “Uncle McShaky” will cost you money.
Sometimes, a friend or relative will offer to videotape a performance for you. That can be a great way to evaluate yourself afterwards, but may not turn out to be footage that you can use in a demo video. Bad follow, lighting or audio problems can wreck the record you have of an excellent performance. A good post-production house can correct some of the distracting elements of an amateur video, but nothing can bring back sound that is overblown or crowded with people talking close to the camera. Nothing can make the subject magically reappear in the frame when they have walked to the side and the camera didn’t follow. And nothing can bring back the cheers and applause of the audience at the end of your show when the operator hit the pause button too early. Invest in a professional videographer and make sure you get the footage that will support your claim to being the best.

2. What did you say?
Great video depends on great audio, and if you don’t believe us, watch your favorite movie while someone vacuums. A good technician will get an audio feed off the sound board if at all possible, have you wear a lapel microphone just for the video, have a plan for capturing the audience sounds on an isolated channel and be quiet themselves while taping. If you get clean, balanced audio for your video, you’ll get a great bonus! You can choose to have audio-only elements pulled for a CD or website MP3 or to market your voice-over skills.

3. All by myself – the power of reactions.
How will you prove that you were an effective speaker, an engaging trainer, an enthusiastic motivator or and exciting entertainer? Get reaction shots – of their faces! Backs of heads are better than nothing, but only go so far, so make sure your videographer has planned for reaction angles. Take a few minutes after the presentation to get testimonials and spoken reactions from the audience and use them to help promote yourself.

4. Tina’s not going to like that.
Stay away from copyrighted music in your demo reel unless you have written permission from the artist and songwriter to use it. Using “Simply the Best” as your theme song may be tempting, but Ms. Turner and her record company won’t like it and you may be slapped with a big fine. Ask your production company about royalty free or licensed music. What kinds do they have or what will they be willing to acquire for you, to fit the mood and energy of your performance?

5. Ride the bull.
Like in bull riding and first dates, you’ve got about 8 seconds at the beginning of a demo video to catch someone’s attention and make a positive impression. Make sure the quality and content of those precious opening moments reflect the best of you and what you can do for them.

6. No one else loves you as much as you love you.
Alright, maybe your Mom does, but she’s probably not the one you are trying to get to hire you. The point is that shorter is better. Others get tired of watching us well before we do, so edit, edit, edit your footage until you have the tightest, most compelling highlights of you in action. We recommend a 2-3 minute “Speed demo” for most people, with the option to have a longer video of perhaps 10-15 minutes for those prospects who aren’t convinced after seeing your short demo. The “speed demos” load and play quickly on the Internet (saving you DVD duplication and mailing costs) are are usually enough to clinch the deal.

7. Your dying wish.
We list this last, but is perhaps the first thing you need to decide before you even start the project. What is is you want the viewer to do when they are done watching your demo video? Click on a link to receive a quote? Call you to schedule an interview? Email you for more information? You would be surprised by how many people never make their “dying wish” known at the end of their demo videos. Make sure you let them know what the next step is.

Extend your budget by taking advantage of multiple options for output.

Mastering to DVD is the obvious one, but don’t forget about the instant access of web video. Flash video is definitely the preferred format today for self-hosted videos, or Quicktime .mov for YouTube and similar sites.

With a thoughtful approach and good raw materials, you’ll have far more options in creating speaker demo reels that shine as brightly as you do.


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