So you’ve just discovered (or been told) that your company needs a video… and you’re in charge of it. Congratulations! You are about to embark on a fun and exciting journey– one that is not always easy, but will leave you with a true sense of accomplishment, positive reactions from your customers, and hopefully… a pretty feather in your cap for the boss.

You have the privilege to create something out of nothing, where the sky is the limit. Starting with a gaseous idea (creativity), together we’ll begin to mold and shape a moving and engaging presentation consisting of pictures, music and sound. Intangible items that can, when properly combined, strongly persuade your audience to believe in and stand behind your message.

Oh, but wait… just what is your message? That is the greatest question you could ask yourself now. Before anything else… before the storyboards are inked, before the lights come up, and before the camera rolls… you must determine a central and resounding message.

This may seem obvious, like there should be a quick and easy answer. But this can often be the most difficult decision of the entire process, and for good reason. Most companies and their advocates are excited about what they do. They are excited about the opportunity to use video to tell their story. As a result, they are often reluctant to let any of the detailed selling points hit the cutting room floor. When producing a video, though, this is the amateur’s demise. You cannot approach video production as you would any other form of print material. It just doesn’t translate. It leads to a mundane, unsuccessful product.

Clients are often asked a series of questions, some basic and some bizarre, to help them narrow down what really is important. The most basic question is always this: “If your audience could take away just one thing from your video, what would it be?” Video is a powerful medium, but one that must be focused and concentrated to be effective. We’ve all seen a video where the copywriter threw in everything and the kitchen sink. What’s the one thing we all took away from that video? Nothing… in fact, it took from us several minutes of our lives we’d love to have back. Luckily, we can take advantage of the fact that today’s generation is extremely media savvy.

We’ve been brought up on moving pictures that tell us stories without using words. Go back and watch a movie from the 1930s, when audiences weren’t keen to deciphering information from a moving picture medium. Everything is blatant and often ridiculously spelled out in great length. Today’s audience is deftly capable of garnering plots, sub-plots, character nuances and clues from a mere five seconds of cleverly crafted flashing pictures and sound.

So if you could take away one thing from this article it would simply be this: Effective videos rely on the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Once you’ve found your one message, let the pictures begin to circulate around that message and tell a thousand more stories. You don’t need the voiceover narrator to explain every little detail of your story. That is not interesting to your viewer. Instead, rely on a good director and crew to splash your story across the screen with rich, well thought out images. These images will support your message, yet quickly expound upon it in ways you didn’t even know were possible. If a factory wants to tout that their production floor is very “clean and orderly,” we wouldn’t bother even saying it. We’d emphasis it best by just properly showing it. Seeing a well crafted shot, preferably in high definition, down the factory line with each workstation in impeccable order while hearing the workers’ shoes squeak as they walk by screams this sub selling point with a credibility found nowhere else.

It may feel like too subtle an approach at times, but once you sit down to view the final cut in the editing suite with a latte, you can’t help but realize you’ve built a product that delivers a resounding impact. Your video production experience will be that much more rewarding, and your product will be that much more effective if you just let go of the kitchen sink and surround your one true message with beautiful pictures that speak for themselves.