Make it personal with video

QUICK TIPS | How to make a professional-looking video message, without a trip to the studio.

date_range 15 May 2020

Setting up systems and tools to connect with clients and contacts - without catching-up face-to-face - dominated the early lockdown days. For many, a bit of crash-course in using a variety of digital tools to connect ensued, and has delivered new ways of doing business that will likely continue as we adjust to life after lockdown. One of the small silver lining perhaps, is that the crisis drove many businesses – financial advisers included - to explore new options; options that can deliver ongoing efficiencies and more. 

Lockdown also highlighted the importance of the personal-touch in communications, for which video is an ideal tool. These days, the combination of a smartphone, an online editing tool or two, and some good pre-planning can deliver a well crafted, professional message, packed with personality.

Like to explore video for your financial advice communications? Read on for our helpful tips.


Mobile phone or laptop?

Who said you need a fancy camera to shoot your video message? Nowadays, most mobile phones have built-in cameras that take high-quality photos and videos. The reason we recommend using your smart phone rather than your laptop is that built-in webcams are usually low quality and yield odd and unprofessional angles (due to the camera being embedded in the screen).

With the right lighting, framing and background, you most likely won’t need a separate device.

The largest drawback to using a smartphone is the lack of available audio input – we’ll come to this in more detail below.

The combination of a smartphone, an online editing tool or two, and some good pre-planning can deliver a well crafted, professional message, packed with personality.

If you filmed your video message in one long take, you may want to polish it with a video- editing software.

Plan your videos

Before you start production, take the time to plan your video thoroughly. Some people are natural in front of a camera, while others need a script to feel comfortable. Either way, every time you create a video, make sure you start by defining its purpose.

What would you like to achieve or communicate?
Who are you talking to?
And how will you make your video ‘speak’ to these viewers in particular?

Once you’ve defined your goals, write down the key points you’d like to go through: this will help you keep your video as brief and on-point as possible.

And, as with all communication, be careful that your message is accurate and not unintentionally misleading. Whether it is the written word or video message, make sure you’re mindful of what you are saying – it’s important from a compliance perspective, and of course, for your viewers.


Choose the right background

Choosing the right background is crucial, as it will affect the quality of your video. You can either shoot your video message in a real-life environment, such as your home office, your living room or outdoor area. But the key thing is to ensure that your background isn’t distracting.

Sometimes, a solid-coloured background is the best option. Just make sure you stand a couple of metres away from the wall, to avoid casting shadows on it.


Get the lighting right

Lighting can make all the difference in the quality of your video message. If you’re filming indoors, make the most of sunlight, especially in the morning and in late afternoon when the light is softer and doesn’t cast hard shadows. However, if you have to film in the middle of the day, it’s a good idea to do find a shady area or do so on a cloudy day. A large window can be a good natural light source, provided it’s not behind you.

There are ways to improve the lighting of your video by placing light sources strategically. Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid overhead lighting which can cast unflattering shadows on your face. If you can, balance two light sources (e.g. large lamps) on either side of the camera to ensure your face is entirely lit up.


Time to shoot: best practices

Here are some quick tips to achieve good results with your phone.

  • Use the camera on the back of your phone, rather than the ‘selfie camera’. On most phones, the front (selfie) camera tends to be lower quality than the back one, especially in low-light conditions. This happens because the front camera usually has a smaller sensor and a lower megapixel count. So unless you have a new-gen smartphone with a great selfie camera (like these ones), using the back camera may be your safest option.

  • Record in landscape mode (horizontally instead of vertically). This will ensure your video displays correctly on larger devices, like laptops and tablets, and not just on phone screens.

  • If you have it, use a tripod (these are usually quite cheap, so consider putting it on your to-buy list, when things go back to normal). If you don’t have tripod, set your phone on a sturdy surface and try not to move it unless you have to. Like to shoot your video from different angles? Rather than moving your camera around, it’s a good idea to cut from one scene to another and then tie them up together with video-editing software. Sing out if you’d like some suggested tools for this.

  • Master the ‘rule of thirds’. This is one of the most basic principles of composition. Instead of placing yourself right in the middle of the shoot, you can divide your frame into a three-by-three grid, and place yourself at one of the intersection of those dividing lines (see below). Also, make sure there isn’t too much space above your head, but don’t cut off the top of your head either.


Avoid poor audio quality

As we said, one of the main challenges of shooting videos with a smartphone is getting good audio quality. Unfortunately, unless you can record the audio separately on another device or external mic (and then synchronise your video and audio later using a video editing software), you’ll need to settle for the in-built microphone.

To get the most out of it, choose a quiet area to record. Also, the closer your phone is to you, the better the sound will be. And of course, make an effort to speak clearly and directly towards your phone.


Improve your camera presence

Even if you feel you weren’t born with a great camera presence, with a bit of practice, you can improve it significantly. Here are some quick tips to get started:

  • Stand or sit up straight, keeping your shoulders back and your muscles relaxed.
  • Focus on your body language: avoid crossing your arms and don’t forget to smile, especially
  • at the beginning of your video.
  • Speak clearly: make sure you slow down slightly when talking.
  • If you’re feeling uncomfortable, try to keep your hands occupied (for example, with a pen). This will give you something else to focus on besides the camera. 



Even if you filmed your video message in one long take, you may want to polish it with a video- editing software. A little basic editing can help make your videos look more professional, and there are several different options available for all budgets, including some free software and video editing apps. Once again, sing out if you’d like our thoughts on suggested tools.

Sometimes, simply trimming the start and end of your video, or removing awkward pauses, can yield better results. Whatever tool you choose to use, keep your editing as simple as possible. Your video needs to be short, clear, well-lit and on-point, especially if you’re planning to share it on your social media profiles.

These are just some top-level tips to achieve good quality videos without a trip to the studio. Like to know more? We welcome you to contact the team at FINERGY.