1. Plan! Lay a good foundation. Know your goals.

2. Know your audience. What moves them?

3. Be a good a student. Learn what works in video, and what doesn’t.

4. Video is not like print. It’s a slice of life. It should flow like a conversation with a friend.

5. Don’t judge a script by reading it. Your viewers won’t be reading it. They’ll be watching and listening. Have someone read the script aloud to you. Or you can have your computer read it to you. On my Mac, I highlight the narration text and hit the T button, which I’ve programmed for talk, for text to speech. I sit back and listen to what I wrote. Amazing how you catch things that way.

6. Allow enough time for a video shoot. Even an interview setup takes more time than most people expect – bringing gear in, setting up lighting, testing audio, and afterwards undoing everything and packing it away.

7. Keep your video short and sweet. Often if a video is long, say over six minutes, it’s a sign you need to sharpen your message. Most videos today for nonprofits and companies are around three minutes. Videos posted on the web should be around 90 seconds to two minutes. If you are showing it to a captive audience at an event, you can go longer but keep it focused and engaging.

8. No data dumping. This is perhaps the number one mistake. Trying to say too much. People can remember only a few things in their short-term memory. If you try to tell them too much at a time, they turn you off and fail to remember your message.

9. Video = Emotions.  If your video is for fundraising, and you’ve built up an emotional story, and then throw in a statistic, that’s like throwing in cold water – you lose your viewers. We donate from emotional part of our brains.

10. Become an audience advocate.  Focus on their point of view. After all, your message is not about you, the nonprofit, but about the donor.


Mary is a freelance video producer in Seattle. She creates videos for you that help your business or nonprofit grow. Visit her LinkedIn page, and see her videos on Vimeo. You can reach her at Mary@MaryJPeterson.com.