8 Rules to Guarantee CEO Video Perfection

The world is full of boring CEO videos

– from the MD & Potted Plant style of video

– to the CEO who’s obviously reading from a teleprompt.

But it can be different – and better.

Here’s how.

Start by dividing your CEO filming project into 3 parts:

> the pre-production stage

> the filming stage

> the post production stage

Now let’s take a look at each part in turn.

The Pre-Production Stage 1 – Using Q&A

The first and most obvious questions to ask is:

> Does the CEO know what he or she is talking about?

This requires some explanation.

You see, often the CEO is asked to speak on a departmental topic on which they have only small knowledge of the detail.

While at other times the CEO needs to speak on a topic they are really committed to, or passionate about.

I’d advise only using the CEO speak on subjects they know about.

This way they’re speaking from knowledge.

If the CEO doesn’t really know the topic, then ask another C Level person

– who knows the topic

– to speak to camera.

Rule 1: Only speak on what you know about

– otherwise delegate to those who do.

The best way to get the CEO to speak is to use an unseen, unheard “interviewer”

– ie, a person who prompts the CEO to speak by asking them a question they already know the answer to.

CEOs are pretty good at answering questions

– so immediately this approach is on the right track.

Secondly, the CEO knows the subject, so they’ll speak well on it.

The advantages of the Q&A approach are:

> speech looks and sounds natural

> all the topic content can be framed in advance, and planned as questions

To expand on this:

Say you need the CEO to speak on Corporate Values, with reference to supply chain, operatives and management.

Ask:

“What do suppliers need to do to onboard our values?”

“How can our operatives apply our values in daily life?

“What do managers have to do to structure our values into their workflows?”

Well-framed questions, like these above, will produce the right answers on camera

– looking & sounding natural

– and free from the dreaded teleprompt look.

Rule 2: Use unheard questions to prompt your CEO to speak

The Pre-Production Stage 2 – Planning the B Roll

It’s not enough to simply plan to film your CEO speaking to camera

– because a non-stop talking head is still potentially boring

– no matter how good the content.

What brings the CEO to life is the B Roll

– the additional footage you film

– the footage that illustrates “the CEO in Action”.

Take our example above, where the CEO has to speak about corporate values.

If the CEO is talking about Sharing as a value

– then show footage of the CEO talking to different levels of people in the workforce

eg, managers, operatives, suppliers etc.

Show them Sharing.

If the CEO is talking about Safety

– film them wearing PPE onsite.

Show them being Safe.

Seeing footage of the CEO-in-Action, while they’re still talking underneath

– will bring the message to life.

This is how to use B Roll footage.

Rule 3: Plan to film B Roll footage that matches the message being delivered.

The final item to plan is to book the shoot early in the CEOs diary.

You’ll need them for up to 4 hours of filming on the day

– if you’re to capture all the good B Roll footage you’re going to need.

CEOs don’t have spare ½ days to give, so think ahead.

Rule 4: Get in the CEOs diary as early as possible.

The Filming Stage

CEOs are usually very good to work with from a camera crew perspective.

They’re skilled speakers and usually know how to appeal to an audience.

But sometimes their responses to questions can be overwordy.

So when the CEO’s explanation of a point becomes overlong

– stop them.

Ask them to repeat the key element from all they just said.

For example: Let’s say the CEO is responding to a question on Sharing

– and they’re saying too much.

The interviewer/director has to be listening attentively

– ready to spot an overlong response

– waiting for the key phrase that jumps out above the rest of the speech.

Then ask the CEO to repeat what they said

– but just the key phrase part.

Normally this will produce the perfect soundbite.

Rule 5: Listen closely, and be prepared to ask them to repeat an answer in less words.

CEOs can also stumble on their words, or say unnecessary things.

If you film with a second camera

– it’s very easy to edit out the “bad bits” by cutting from one camera to another.

And the production can look more polished for it.

Rule 6: Shoot with a 2 camera crew if possible

The Post-Production Stage

Post production is about editing.

Or is it?

I’d suggest post-production is about Storytelling.

So, for example, if you follow the Rules above you’ll have lots of good B Roll footage.

The video editor should endeavour to cut the video so the B Roll footage alone tells the story

– almost as if the CEO’s words weren’t necessary.

This concept of telling the story in the B Roll is a surefire way to elevate the CEO address

– from a relatively dull monologue

– to a lively and engaging story.

Rule 7: Tell the story in the B Roll

Finally, the whole programme will will need cosmeticising.

For example:

> the CEO can be made to look younger, or more powerful, or more sympathetic.

> the B Roll scenes can look brighter, punchier, and generally more impactful.

Cosmeticising will round off a good corporate look for your programme

– and the CEO will always prefer to look less wrinkly!

Whether the effect is subtle or dramatic depends on the programme and your judgement.

Rule 8: Cosmeticise all footage

Summary

Here are the 8 rules to CEO video perfection.

Rule 1: Only speak on what you know about

Rule 2: Use unheard questions to prompt your CEO to speak

Rule 3: Plan to film B Roll footage that matches the message being delivered.

Rule 4: Get in the CEOs diary as early as possible.

Rule 5: Listen closely, and be prepared to ask them to repeat an answer in less words.

Rule 6: Shoot with a 2 camera crew if possible

Rule 7: Tell the story in the B Roll

Rule 8: Cosmeticise all footage

If you follow the above 8 rules I can guarantee your CEO video will be perfect and fit-for-purpose.

You can see more CEO example footage here

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