5 ways to turn your video application into a showstopper

Are you thinking about cake?

Or wondering what makes a great tech for good application video?

Lots of you have been asking that question to Nissa Ramsay, Comic Relief’s Tech for Good Programme Manager. So, in response, she’s asked me to share some ingredients from the best videos last time round.

Making a video

If you’ve not made a video before it can feel daunting. But making one is like baking a cake. You need some basic ingredients, a decent recipe, and then a few extras to turn it into a showstopper.

There’s plenty of online guides. Here’s your main ingredients:

  • A good story – more important than production quality
  • A script and decent quality audio
  • A variety of scenes – people, tech and on-screen text
  • A liberal helping of passion and belief

How you mix your ingredients is up to you but you’ll see that most of the videos start with a description of the problem. A good recipe will use a storyboard to plan the video, a tripod to hold the camera, and an external microphone. It’ll have someone in charge of filming/editing and someone directing (who may also star). These could be your normal colleagues. The basic skills they’ll need are easy to look up on the internet.

The Videos

We’ve picked 4 videos from the last funding programme. Their video got them onto the long list and, with their Stage 2 application, helped them get funded.

Sadly, none of them contain cake.

The Well – slick

Telling your best story well is more important than the quality of your video’s production.

The Well’s video does that, making it one of the best. It’s strong because:

  • It starts with a story and shares a compelling personal experience, making a logical link to how and why tech could help solve the specific problem
  • It introduces both charity and tech partners. It gives an insight into the problem and shows their commitment to solving it together.
  • At key moments uses text to complement the audio, making it easier to understand
  • It shows great but realistic ambition, and uses stats to show potential impact

Showstopper

It strongly shows how the partners have already been exploring the problem together, why existing tech won’t solve it, and what a solution will need to do. It’s easy to see the impact a grant will make.

Women’s Aid – a talking head done well

This video only uses a talking head to make the case for their project. While this is less engaging it makes a good case because:

  • It has a clear narrative, supported by a strong script
  • It’s well balanced. Many videos spend too long explaining the need. This one spends a third of the time explaining it, and the rest describing the solution, the approach and the people involved.

The case for why a tech solution in particular is needed could be stronger but the overall application still got funded. Showing you have the right context, problem and approach is more important than a slick video!

Showstopper

Its very active. She talks passionately to the camera about the problem, the people involved and the work already done. Then she appeals for help. Even though its a talking head, it makes for a compelling case.

Alexandra Rose – showing why a tech solution is needed

This video has great, authentic content. Its strong because:

  • It opens with a service user’s personal experience
  • It nicely mixes up voiceovers with beneficiary and stakeholder interviews
  • It shows the work already done, in the form of user stories developed with the tech partner. This evidences both partner’s commitment.
  • They talk about their scaling plans in a clear and plausible way

Showstopper

Not only does it explain the problem well, but it also shows why the current non-tech solution isn’t working. It’s easy to see how the project, and the funder’s grant, will solve the problem.

Depaul UK – engaging user footage

This video combines a variety of scenes. But its tricky to listen to because the voiceover is passive and the sound quality is poor. It overcomes these because:

  • It has a nice pace, with a good mix of talking head, user footage and text and graphics
  • It showcases work they have already done in the form of initial wireframes
  • It introduces the technical team

Showstopper

The user footage is engaging. When combined with its other strengths the video makes a compelling case.

Your video

Follow what these videos did and you’ll have a great chance. To make a real showstopper:

  1. Focus on your story more than production quality
  2. Include footage of the problem you want to solve. Show the problem through the eyes of your users
  3. Explain why existing tech or services won’t solve the problem.
  4. Talk directly to the camera and let your passion show

Good luck!

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