How to Avoid Distractions and Make a Killer Video

By Josh Gold

When you’re working on a video, one of the most important things you can do is stay focused.

(See? It’s even number one on this list.)

When you lose sight of your goal, it’s easy to end up wasting resources on extras that aren’t necessary and may even work against you. Before implementing a  decision, it helps to ask: “How does this help us reach our objective?”

I’ve touched on different elements of this here and there; in today’s post, I want to bring these ideas together to make it clear exactly what it involves and how it all works.

Having a goal

Why are you making a video?

If you’re not sure, you’re not alone. Not knowing is more common than you may realize.

Sometimes, organizations feel pressured to have a video simply because it’s the “done” thing – but they have no idea what to do with it. Maybe they want to feature a video at an event, but they don’t know what they expect it to accomplish. They don’t have any results in mind.

It’s a shame, because video is both expensive and a wonderfully useful communication tool. It can help raise awareness, connect with people, and even motivate them to act.

Once you start thinking about it with more intention, you can get a lot of value out of choosing the right video for your context and needs.

Executing the goal

If you’ve decided to articulate a goal for your video, it’s time to start asking some more specific questions.

  • Is this video for fundraising? Are you trying to attract new donors, or deepen your relationship with your existing alumni base? There will be a different audience for each of these objectives; your existing donors already know what you’re about, while new donors may still need to be sold on your cause.
  • Is the video for recruitment? Is it directed at parents, or prospective students, or both?
  • What are your audience’s interests and concerns? How can you address them? If you want them to care about you, you’re going to have to speak in terms of what matters to them.
  • It’s important to call the viewer to action. If the video affected them, you’ll want to follow up immediately, before the feeling fades. What action do you want them to take after watching: signing up for a mailing list? Making a contribution to an ongoing campaign?
  • Finally, how can you make this action appealing to them? There’s a lot of strategy that goes into picking the right ask; it’s worth learning about how and when to make your various moves.

Putting these answers together gives you a solid direction for your video. You now know who you’re talking to, what about, and why; this will help guide you in deciding what kind of story to tell, what tone to take, and how to frame your call to action.

Tempting distractions

Video production is a long process, and it’s easy to lose sight of your goals along with way.

You might hear a story that moves you – and now you want to use it to move the viewer, too. You may think of a clever hook or additional scene. You may think that it’s impossible to make a video about your organization without talking about your most important feature or service.

Maybe a famous speaker comes to lecture one day, and you just know your audience will be impressed when they hear about it. Maybe the science fair was a hit, and you want to show off the most impressive projects.

But no matter what your idea is, it should always be subject to the same question: “How does this help us reach our objective?”

Remember, focused messaging works. Video isn’t a case of the “the more the merrier,” or “more is more.” In a video, you don’t have the viewer’s attention for long. You have to make the most of it. Anything that isn’t helping is actually hurting, diluting your message and distracting from your true goals.

The speaker, science fair, service, or extra scene may be very impressive. But will they really help you with this audience? Will they help you with this purpose?

So, what are your current goals? And who is your target audience?

If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Josh Gold, owner of Serio Films, has helped nonprofits raise millions of dollars through video-based marketing. You can follow Josh and his team over at and To get more discussions like these right to your inbox, sign up for their newsletter.