Testimonials are a very powerful tool to build credibility for your business and convert customers from multiple points in the sales funnel. Testimonials can appear in many places: your home page, your capabilities deck, your newsletter and more. But while written testimonials can be collected on the fly — scooped up from emails or social media comments, quite simply as long as you get people’s permission — video testimonials take quite a bit more preparation on the company’s end and active involvement from the person giving the testimonial.

While the old-school way to produce video testimonials was a full-on video shoot, leading-edge video solutions like OpenReel power the possibilities of recording high-quality 4K video remotely without the connection hiccups of Zoom or Skype. Beyond the tech part, here are other tips for recording the best remote video testimonials.

Tips for recording remote video testimonials:

Make sure the subject knows what you’re requesting.

1. Make sure the subject knows what you’re requesting.

Requesting a testimonial from someone can be pretty informal when all  you need is a sentence. You can ask on the fly for permission to use a compliment that was included in an email, or a positive comment that was offered in a meeting.

But with video testimonials, that sort of friendly casual ambush doesn’t work. The person needs to agree to giving you a testimonial and then sit with you on camera for a period of time and allow themselves to be recorded giving positive feedback. So, be very strategic in how and who you ask — and be sensitive, smart and organized in how you set up the video recording session.

Tips for getting people to agree to recording a remote video testimonial:

  • Ask a person based on how positively they feel about the work that’s just been completed, not based on how long you’ve been working together.
  • Frame your request in the context of positive feedback you’ve recently gotten.
  • Be clear and concise about your ask.
  • Explain right away that it’s going to be recorded on video, and that recording may take 30 or more minutes.
  • Reassure whomever you ask that you’ll prep them in advance and make sure that they look good on camera.
  • Work around a person’s schedule. Don’t create urgency or anxiety in your subject.

2. Prep the subject and yourself.

Many people have nerves about being on camera, and the new and somewhat unnatural dynamic of being recorded while being physically alone takes camera shyness to a whole new level.

Not only do people feel awkward about how they’ll look and sound onscreen, but many experience an additional layer of awkwardness when they have to put on an on-camera game face while staring into a screen and being directed by someone who’s not present in-person.

To manage this awkwardness, here are a few preparation steps to take:

  • Have a conversation, ideally a face-to-face virtual call, well before the recording session. During this conversation, explain to this person why you chose them, and why you think they’ll give a great testimonial.
  • Brief them about your ideal outcome and what you’ll want them to do — what you’ll want to talk about, and the story you want them to tell. Make sure they’re onboard with it.
  • After this call, send them questions, discussion points or thought starters so they can begin to think of what they’ll say during the video session.
  • Send a sample testimonial as well if possible.
  • Optional: Do a rehearsal or pre-interview where you talk thru the questions or discussion points, and take notes on the best responses.
  • Optional: Create a draft of what they’ll say in the video based on these responses. If your subject prefers to have a cue card with prompts or full lines they can refer to during the interview, write those up and load them into the OpenReel teleprompter function.

Ensure all parties have strong high-speed Internet or remote-source recording.

3. Ensure all parties have strong high-speed Internet or remote-source recording.

As millions of people all over the world are discovering through their recent switch to remote work, a virtual meetup can go all sorts of wrong if everyone’s Internet connections can’t support the connection and communication activity.

Delayed starts, dropped connections and slow playback are all common, and can all wreak havoc on your recording plans, especially on teleconferencing platforms like Zoom. Plan for high-quality by making sure that you have strong, steady Internet, and do your best to ensure your subject does as well. Of course you can’t control what they do, but at least ask them to shut down other screens and devices before the recording session.

To circumvent the whole issue of connection quality, you can use tech like OpenReel’s app to allow the remote subject to record their video testimonial directly on their desktop, laptop or mobile device — i.e., with remote capture video. Although the tech still relies on a connection to teleconference in collaborators, the video quality itself isn’t affected because it’s recorded directly at the remote source.

4. Ask the subject to find a quiet space with no onlookers.

This is easier said than done when people are working from home, but it’s actually very important if you’re trying to get a high-quality interview with thoughtful answers. Explain to the subject that a small, private space is actually better than the largest, most impressive room in the home/office/home office.

Also, both of you should look for a room with a door that closes and locks. Even if coworkers or children want to lurk around and watch, encourage a “closed set” with as few distractions as possible. No matter how comfortable someone is answering questions or being recorded on-screen, it pulls focus when other people are making noise or being distracting in other ways.

Put the subject in front of a nice-looking background.

5. Put the subject in front of a nice-looking background.

One great leap that remote video has made in the COVID-19 era is in available backgrounds. Not very long ago, anyone who was recording an interview remotely from their home or office spent time stressing out to identify the most flattering and best lit corner of their space.

Some people would actually style the space, setting up a framed picture and a lamp just so behind the chair, and measuring the distance between their computer or device and their chair so as to achieve the most flattering angle. Most people, as we’ve seen, just pull up a seat at the dining room table or at their desk and let the video session commence.

While it’s preferable that a subject be in front of a quasi-professional background with decent lighting, the proliferation of artistic free backgrounds provided by companies like OpenReel allow content producers to drop in something much more photogenic than the typical off-white wall, lamp and potted plant of recent days past.

6. Provide feedback and direction in the session.

Some people have the opinion that in order for an interview to proceed naturally, a question must only be asked once, and that if the answer doesn’t flow smoothly, you move on to the next point. This is not true.

If an answer or discussion point is crucial to your testimonial, then keep working until you get the soundbites you need. You might try to:

  • Rephrase the question.
  • Identify one phrase that worked well, and ask the subject to repeat it and then hit another point.
  • Run through the soundbite a few times without recording before you try to capture it for the video once again.
  • Try different approaches to your questioning technique. Are you using open-ended or closed-ended questions? Open-ended questions elicit more thoughtful answers.

This is all part of the job — director, producer or writer depending how your team is set up. And OpenReel’s remote director controls can help you get the proper resolution, angle and focus on your end.

Be patient and relaxed in giving directions. Make sure your subject knows you’re doing this because the point is important and you want the shot to be great, not because they’re doing anything wrong. Not even A-listers can nail every answer on one take.

Great video testimonials are authentic, engaging and informative.

7. Great video testimonials are authentic, engaging and informative.

Length isn’t the key factor here, and neither is getting just the canned message that you and your CEO and marketing team would have put together.

The trick to a great testimonial is that the subject tells a story of how your company solved a problem or helped them achieve something — that they tell that story naturally and believably, and that viewers relate.

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