Set ’em Up and Knock ’em Down – Video and Live Events

By Josh Gold

While many nonprofits employ video at their live events, my feeling is that there’s still a lot of untapped potential when it comes to integrating video into these longer, in-person presentations.

When you’re hosting a workshop, an open house, or other presentation, you have an audience that is both captive and willing. They’ve gamely put themselves in your hands, often for a duration of several hours.

They’re interested – and they’re giving you an opportunity. This is a chance to connect with them in a human way, with personality and character. It’s a meaningful encounter that can take your relationship to another level of commitment.

It may be worth a little extra investment to ensure that the experience meets its full potential. And I’m not just talking about the content of your video.

I’m talking about using video in a way that understands the audience’s mental and emotional state and responds accordingly. How can you ensure that people are warmed up at the start? How can you keep them engaged and in the right mood to be receptive? What state do you leave them in at the end?

I’ve found using video as bookends to an event can be a very effective tool to get people fired up and then leave them on a high.

Specifically, here’s how I’ve advised my clients to create and place videos at their own events:

Open with a Teaser

To begin with, attendees will all be milling around, introducing themselves and, I imagine, treating themselves to something from the buffet. These casual greetings and pleasantries give them a chance to arrive and settle in.

Once you’re ready to really get started, however, you’ll want to find a way to immediately bring the reason you’re all present into focus. That’s why I recommend opening your program with a 90-second teaser video.

This snappy, lively trailer will quickly immerse viewers in the culture of your organization, setting the tone for everything to follow. It creates a neat, smooth transition into the topic at hand.

The purpose of this video is not to inform, but to launch the event by gaining your audience’s attention, exciting them, and preparing them for the day’s activities. Your aim is to bring them into a frame of mind in which they’ll be open to what you have to say and interested in learning more.

The trailer will capture the key points that you want them to come away with in a highly visual and emotional way.

When you call back to these ideas later, they’ll be familiar with them and ready to hear the details. They’ll be able to absorb what you’re saying faster and better than they would otherwise.

Close with a Recap

The bulk of these events is usually taken up with speeches, lectures, discussion groups, and other forms of personal interaction. Open houses will often involve mock classes and a parents’ fair, for example.
That’s a lot to take in all at once. It can be so overwhelming that by the time attendees make it home, they’ll have a hard time remembering exactly what they did all day.

There may be a few highlights that stand out, or even a generally positive impression, but it will mostly be a blur. It will be hard for most participants to articulate to themselves why they should support you after this experience, even if they want to.

That’s why we propose bringing everyone back together for a recap film and Q&A session before you send them on their way.

In these final, pivotal moments, you gather everyone back together and give them the chance to review the day, to absorb and react to the experience and receive immediate feedback to any questions or concerns that arise.

In the end, they’ll actually have a very clear idea of your mission. Instead of leaving in the middle of an information overload, you give them clarity and closure.

Great videos can stand on their own, but they can bring you even more value when they’re built into a smart, well-coordinated schedule.
Consider what your audience is thinking and feelings from moment to moment, and try to give them what they need to be able to listen, establish trust, and come away with a strong sense of your identity as an organization.

Do you have any open houses coming up? What are your plans for getting the most out of the event? Email us and let us know.

Want to take your fundraising to the next level? Serio Films offers a free email course on the subject. Learn more and sign up here.

Josh Gold, owner of Serio Films, has helped nonprofits raise millions of dollars through video-based marketing. You can follow Josh and his team on Facebook.