You haven't planned your content in advance!

David Power, Brooklyn, NY

Welcome to the first installment in a series called Video Mistakes.


As entrepreneurs, we use video for a limited number of very specific reasons. And those reasons almost always climax (more often than not, in a non-sexual way) with promoting our products and services.

While it's healthy to drop the notion that our videos can ever be perfect, our aim should always be to make them as mistake-free as we possibly can.

Video Mistakes is a deep dive into a collection of errors–some egregious, some not-so-much–I've witnessed from a number of entrepreneurs-come-video-creators over the years. I may (or may not) even be guilty of some of them myself. I'll never tell.

— End of Introduction —

Today's video mistake is:

You haven't planned your content in advance!

Every video you ever create will require an investment of some combination of the following resources:

  • Time
  • Energy
  • Money

The balance between these resources will differ from video to video. It will also shift over time as your skills and experience improve.

But any way you slice it, you’re making an investment. So you owe it to yourself to make sure the raw material going into your video is top notch. That raw material is your content. It includes your overall message as well as the spoken words, images and text you use to deliver it.

Unless you’re an expert improviser (and even if you are), I strongly encourage you to write a script before you roll camera. You don’t have to stick to it word-for-word. But if your core content ends up being the first thought you have when the camera rolls, there’s a very good chance it’s not the best content you're capable of creating.

“If your core content ends up being the first thought you have when the camera rolls, there's a very good chance it's not the best content you're capable of creating.”

So long before you ever turn your camera on, sit down with pen and paper (a laptop or iPad will work just as well) and plan your message.

Where To Begin

You may make dozens of decisions before you’re ready to record but some of the most important decisions will include the following:

1. What goal(s) do I want to accomplish? 

Standard goals for entrepreneurs include: a) to inform or educate; b) to inspire; and c) to sell. There are other goals but these three make a great starting point.

2. Is video the best medium for my goals? 

Don’t feel you HAVE to use video for every message you deliver. Some messages are better suited to a blog post, a PDF download, a screencast, or an audio recording or podcast.

3. Do I need to appear on-camera? 

For some videos, the answer will be a resounding “YES.” But putting yourself on-camera means you need to:

  • rehearse your script
  • make yourself presentable
  • light the scene
  • set up camera and audio gear
  • perform the material multiple times
  • edit together the best segments of the best takes
  • the list goes on…

Appearing on-camera can be very effective but it requires a fairly heavy lift before, during, and after the shoot. If video is the right medium for your message, consider whether you can simplify things by delivering it in the form of a screencast, slide presentation, or video sales letter.

4. How long should my video be? 

I’ll cover video length in detail in another post. For now, all you need to remember is that your video should be as long as it needs to be and not a second longer. In short, let your video’s goals and message determine its length. But keep in mind, shorter is almost always better.

Script That Ish

I’m not a great improviser. Anytime I shoot a video in which I'll appear on camera (and even when I won't), I script the entire thing in advance, rehearse it multiple times, and read it verbatim from either a teleprompter (for an on-camera script) or a computer monitor (for a voice over).

Does this make the job more difficult? A little.

Does it take extra time? Yes, some extra time.

Does it improve the quality of the final product? Ab-so-freakin- lutely!

In an ideal world, you and I will someday reach performance nirvana. We'll be able to turn a camera on any time day or night and just start talking. No scripting. No rehearsal. And what comes out will be pure poetry.

But until that day comes…

Plan your f'n content in advance.

Have you made any video mistakes of your own? Wanna share 'em?

Hit me back in the comments below.

Until next time,


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