What the format? How to give your video shapeJul 26, 2022
What the format? How to give your video shape
Format. Now that word probably sounds about as sparkly to you as ‘spreadsheet’. Or ‘data analysis’. Or – shudder – ‘budget’
But please don’t click away! I promise you that the context I’m about to use the word format in can excite you. Because in this blog post I’ m steering my focus to video formats. Why? Well, I firmly believe that crafting a video format is one of the best ways to woo your audience and keep them coming back to your content.
I employ a format for almost every video I create – from 2 minute shorts for my company website, to impact documentary films that are shared on the silver screen, right though to the weekly Moonshine Moonshot series I produce with my co-host Mike Hill.
So what’s the deal with formats?
For one, they will dictate the general shape of your video. But it shouldn’t be confused with its genre. Let’s say your genre is ‘talk show’. That’s great. It might also run for 27 minutes, starting with a 5 minute guest introduction, followed by a 20 minute conversation and concluding with a 2 minute outro where you thank you guest and ask viewers to tune in next week. Now that’s your format.
And you know what?
Your audience expects a format
It’s super important to create a format for your video so your viewers know what to expect – especially if you’re creating a series.
Take your favourite sitcom for example. Any given episode probably kicks off with the main character facing some stumbling block, turning point or conflict. As the story deepens, the real drama kicks in – someone cheats or steals or wears the wrong shade of green. Oh! The scandal. And then, just when you think the episode is about to end. the issue is spectacularly resolved. There are lots of hugs and tears and ‘I love yous’. Boom! The credits roll. All this is in 30 minutes or less.
You’ll start to notice the pattern whenever you watch an episode now. The thing is, it’s there for a reason. The sense of familiarity and comfort keeps viewers invested. They know what they’re in for – and they like it.
It’s also a major asset to your entire production team. A format essentially tells the crew what happens when and how.
Ideally you’ll write your format down in a document before you jump on the tools and get to work. This will really help you to streamline your production process – from planning, to running the shoot, to editing, right through to publication.
There are three words to keep top of mind when the developing your format
Beginning. Middle. End.
Ok, so that’s a little simplistic. But it’s a good place to start if you’re still a bit fuzzy on the term.
Take a load off for a second while I walk you through the format I follow for Moonshine Moonshot.
Without sounding like captain obvious, it begins with an introduction. In each episode, Mike and I do a general greeting and a brief overview of the topic we’re discussing that week.
Then we quickly progress to the meaty middle, where we’ll expand on the particular topic. Usually. we’ll break it up into three bite size chunks of information or ideas so it’s easy for viewers to take on board.
And then we’ll do a quick wrap up. We’ll recap what we spoke about and sign off with the all-important call to action (which is ‘Subscribe to the channel.’ Seriously. Go do it – click here).
But that’s pretty much the gist of how we create each episode. Occasionally, there’ll be a rogue interjection from the “big guy in the sky” (if you’re not familiar with the show, he’s our voice over artist), some on-screen graphics or a sound effect or two. These techniques help to make the transition from one idea to the next more seamless on screen.
You can learn a little more about these techniques in my four part mini series on creative video production. Here’s the link to post one.
Your call to action is also part of your format
If you were paying attention to the paragraph above, you’ll have noticed that I mentioned that we always include a call to action at the end of the Moonshine Moonshot series. While you can definitely play with your format from time to time, your CTA is a non-negotiable.
You might want your audience to watch another episode in your video series. Visit your website. Follow you on Instagram. Donate to your foundation. Or download your eBook. The options are varied and may change for every video you produce.
That’s fine – just make sure you ask your viewers to do something after watching your video.
Bonus tips: It’s common to include your CTA at the end of your video so it’s fresh in your viewers mind, but there’s no rule saying that you can’t work it in earlier.
That’s a wrap on format
I hope that this post has helped you understand the value of developing a format for your future video projects.
If you’re still a little hazy on the ins and outs or what some further advice, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a comment for me below or email me directly via [email protected]
You can also join me in the Define Your Ideal Audience course, where I'll teach you the system I use to identify the ideal audience for my projects. Learn more over here
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