A study shows that one-third of online activity is spent watching videos. Even at the start of 2021, consumers are watching more video content than ever before. It is no surprise that video content creation has rapidly grown in recent years and has become a priority for marketers. But how do you exactly create video content, and how does the whole video production work? Joining Paul Higgins on today’s show is video production expert Vanessa Holding. Vanessa is the Executive Producer and Co-owner of Arc + Crown Media. She explains the basics of creating videos, adding some tips on producing videos on your own. Aside from the technical side involved in the production, she also mentions some of the daily habits that helped her be successful.
Tips For Creating Video Content With Vanessa Holding
Build Live Give. Mentoring with Paul Higgins
If it’s your first time, enjoy the show, and please subscribe. If you’re a regular, I’d love to get your feedback. You can go to PaulHigginsMentoring.com/questions and leave any questions, either for the guest or for me. That would great. Our guest grew up behind the scenes on film and TV. Both her father and a brother were involved in the technical side but she wanted to be a little bit more in front of the camera. She worked with a corporate video company, learned some tricks there but wanted to go out and start her own business. That’s what she did. She’s been doing it for many years and she’s helping a lot of B2B businesses with video.
We cover three key things here. One is how do you create an emotional connection? I know it sounds simple to talk about but she gives some great suggestions on that. The second is when do you use scripts versus bullet points? She talks about some great nuances behind that. The third thing, she gives me a lot of feedback on my background but she talked about some things I’ve never heard about having the right background and also the right lighting. What I’ll do now is hand you over to Vanessa Holding from ArcAndCrown.com.
Welcome, Vanessa Holding, from Arc And Crown Media to the show. It’s great to have you here.
Thank you so much. I’m pleased to be here with you.
Vanessa’s already given me plenty of tips and we haven’t even gone to it yet. I’m going to make sure that I bring those tips back so you can get the value as well. I’m looking forward to this interview for that reason. Why don’t we kick off with something that your family or friends know about you that we may not?
You could go in many different directions with that. I thought about it and what’s something that’s interesting is that for a lot of people that I meet, I come across as quite extroverted but the reality is, I’m quite a shy person and in my home life, I’m introverted. When I am with my family, I’m the type that’s listening in to everyone else’s conversations and not the one that’s center stage.
Is that also because you’ve got a couple of strong personalities in your family as well?
That’s a factor. Both of my parents do have strong personalities, that’s maybe why. In my business life, I’ve found a way to bring out what I need to in order to be good at networking and connect with others. I call myself an introverted extrovert. I am able to turn it on what I need to but I’m the type that likes to have a quiet place at home and have a lot of alone time.
I listened to a great podcast where it says, “Introvert and extrovert can be exactly the same in public.” It’s not as if you’re hiding in a corner because you’re an introvert but I think it’s how do you recharge your energy? I’m probably more of an extrovert. If I present to the stage, I then want to go and go to the party afterward and meet people. Whereas an introvert will typically want to go and go to their hotel room, watch Netflix and unwind and relax because they need to get that energy back. That’s the definition between the extrovert and introvert that I love. As I alluded to, your father and brother were in the film world and it seems like that’s where you kicked off your career. Tell us a little bit about that.
I grew up on set because my dad is a technical director and he had a corporate video production company when he was my age but then he went on to freelance. He worked on film and TV sets. I did background work for a movie one time. I was behind the scenes for a variety of those opportunities which was interesting and showcased that the industry was like a family and everyone enjoyed what they did. My dad always told me that, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” That inspired me to want to get into a similar industry. My dad and my brother are both on the technical side. Film and television was the world that they went into.
When I was in school, I wanted to get into something related to film and TV but I discovered that I wasn’t quite as technical and I was more into working with people and on the small details of things. That’s how I discovered producing and realized that the film sets that are sixteen-hour days and traveling around the world weren’t necessarily the lifestyle that I wanted. That’s why I ended up in the corporate world, which I think was a perfect fit for me.
How’s that world going at the moment with COVID? How have your father and brother been impacted?
The film world was impacted at the beginning. A lot of productions halted. My brother was about to head up to The Amazing Race Canada shoot which he had done the year prior. It’s a great and cool experience but that production did close down. He was offered in about six months and then in the fall, TV shows that we’re able to go back did. He was on some cooking shows. My dad has done a lot of live webcasting. That’s been an aspect of things that they’re still able to do in certain capacities. They’re still working but a little bit different than where things were in 2019.Love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life. Click To Tweet
Knowing your company for around many years and we’ll talk more about the company but what made you go into your company at such a young age?
I was inspired by my father. He ran a corporate video production company when he was in his late ‘20s and early ‘30s. I feel like I always had the entrepreneur bug even in university. I felt like I was always the manager of my school projects and the one that would coordinate. “Do all tasks,” and do things like that. When I started working at a small corporate video production company and I got a larger and larger role in the company over the couple of years that I worked there, I realized that the next step up was to be an owner. That’s when and my business partner decided to start our own thing and the rest is history. That was a few years ago and we’ve never looked back.
Your family, your father in particular has been a great influence on you, but who else has supported you through this journey of running your own business?
What I found interesting was that when I worked for another company, I feel like I was almost in a silo. I knew the coworkers that I had and my clients but beyond that, I didn’t focus on building out my network. Once I started my own business and went from selling a company with all of these accomplishments and great brands behind them as clients to selling myself, I realized, “I need to build up my network. I will always be my own biggest fan and showcase what I can do.” That’s when I started going to a lot of events and participating more in the community beyond my own bubble of work that I was doing. Especially here in Toronto, Canada where I am, there’s so much going on.
In Downtown Toronto, there are TechTO events, events for female entrepreneurs, and many different associations and communities. Getting involved and being a part of a variety of different communities. Nowadays, I’m a part of a networking event. I’m on the board of an association and a part of another or various groups. It makes you realize that when you build this community, you have something to give. Also, you can get so much from the others around the table. Speaking to those individuals and creating those bonds, I was encouraged. A lot of individuals did talk to me about my age like, “You’re doing quite a lot for your age.” That was helpful for me to get the confidence to plow forward and go after my goals.
How essential to have people around you that you can give value to but also that going through some of the lessons that you’re about to do. I look at the business as a highway. The less detail you’d take, the better. Learning from others helps that. We’ll move into the Build section now. When people come up to you and say, “Vanessa, what do you do?” How do your best answer that?
In the shortest terms, I say, “I help companies get attention for their content with the power of a video.” I do that in a variety of different ways through a variety of different tools whether it’s animation or live-action or self-recorded content. At the end of the day, everyone is looking to put their content in front of their target audience, have them receive that positively, and then take that next step. In some cases, that might be learning content for your employees. In other cases, that might be marketing content for your prospects or customers. That’s why I love what I do because I get to meet many different companies, understand what they do and then figure out how video can be a catalyst and a tool to help them accomplish their goal or whatever that might be.
What’s your sweet spot? Without being boring, who’s your ideal client? Who do you love to work with?
We work with B2B-based businesses in the mid-range that are looking at making video a priority in their business. That could be for their employees, their understanding that culture is important. Creating videos to attract and retain the right employees. On the other hand, they’re looking at video as a way to attract more clients. In some cases, that might be a series of videos that live on their website. It might be self-recorded videos by some of their biz dev or sales team to post on social. I love working with clients who see video as part of a larger tool rather than a one-off project. They see it as something that can help a variety of different facets in their business from culture and HR to marketing, internal comms, and training.
The way that I look at it in my business is to know everything that’s text-based. How can I over time replace it with the video? With the videos, you still have the text accompany it but you think of all those customer touchpoints. We’ve now got a whole list of every customer touchpoint and then we’re slowly working through it. We prioritize them and change them over to video which these days is so much easier to do. As far as video, I’ve had lots of people on here talking about video. It is the new medium for communication. What do you know about videos that you know a lot of people miss?
Something that they miss is the human or emotional element of a video. It’s useful to get across information and communicate a message but whenever you can bring in emotion, that is what’s going to change minds and hearts because, at the end of the day, we’re all human creatures. We oftentimes don’t realize that we make decisions based on emotion before we even have time to process and make a decision based on logic. Whether you’re a nonprofit that’s trying to deliver a heartfelt message or you are a corporate goliath that is trying to deliver some bad news and you need to do so in a way that gets across that information as succinctly but understandably as possible, you need to think about every aspect about it from the length to the music choice to the tempo to who delivers that information? How is it delivered?
Is it okay to deliver important information through animation? Should somebody from the organization appear on camera and show up for their audience? On another hand, maybe animation is the best way to go for something elsewhere it could be boring and not needed to have a talking head in the video. Thinking about what the purpose is, what the end goal you’re searching for and using the tricks of a video to get at the root of the emotion that you’re looking for is something that we should all be focused on.
I work with a lot of thought leaders and I know at the end of this, you will have a great gift for those that last to the end to get. For me, video is difficult. I’ve found that standing up in front of the crowd and corporate was easy. It’s something off the top of my head that was very easy. I love stages. As soon as I stood up and had that camera pointing at me and I had to talk, I couldn’t do it. I struggled with it. I’m guessing I’m not the only one. What are some tips you could give to thought leaders that are in that position, knowing that they need to do more video but it’s not what they love to do?
At the end of the day, like anything, practice is important. The first time you do anything, it’s never going to be as easy as the 100th time you do something. People need to give themselves first off right off the bat, a little bit of leeway to understand that this is your first time getting in front of a camera whether it’s self-shot and it’s just you in the room or you have a team with lights and cameras and it’s a little bit of a nerve-wracking situation. Give yourself some grace and understand that you’ll get better the more times you do it. You also need to think about the way that you’re going to present your information best.
For example, somebody like myself, I have a horrible memory. If I try to do off the cuff videos, unless I have a specific topic and I know it’s going to be short format, I prefer to fully script myself. I use a teleprompter on my phone and that makes me feel the most comfortable and because I’ve practiced a lot with the teleprompter, it comes across quite naturally versus somebody else that would attempt to do a teleprompter, they might not come across as natural. They might come across stilted and might be much better at doing something off the cuff and organic and having a few jot notes
You need to test and see what feels best for you. Paul, something that we had discussed before we hopped on was the difference between your setup. In incorporate video, oftentimes we will get, for example, a CEO, if he’s doing a CEO message to stand up and have a delivery to the camera where he can use his hands and his body language. When we’re doing something for social or for our email list and we want it to come across as natural, less promotional in nature but more conversational, sometimes sitting in your seat in your home office and showcasing your personality maybe can also help you feel more comfortable. It gets across the information in a way that showcases your personality because that’s what you want to do at the end of the day.
We spoke about it but I think that’s made a huge difference for me. I’ve got a Logitech camera. I used to have the old Mac with the camera. It was terrible camera quality. Now, I can do 4K. I don’t use 4K because of the size. I do 1080. That’s made a difference but I’m looking at a camera but I’m sitting because I’m always on Zoom calls and podcasting. I’m so used to doing that. I find that is a lot better. For me, it’s thinking of one person talking to that one person. I love conversations so I love doing that. Therefore doing that to the camera, I found a lot easier. The other one is simple lighting. If you get your lighting right, that helps with videos. Do you have some tips on lighting? What are your thoughts on getting the right lighting if you are shooting by yourself?
Barebones if you don’t want to invest in anything if you’re going to use natural daylight to your advantage essentially, get in front of a window. Ensure that the window is not behind you because we call that being backlit and then you’ll appear in shadow. In some cases, if you are going to be on a Zoom call or you’re going to film yourself through a webcam, it would be great if you could put your desk or your computer set up in front of a window so the window is facing you. You do certainly want to avoid an extremely sunny day.The first time you do anything is never going to be as easy as the hundredth time you do something. Click To Tweet
If the sunlight is directly on you, then you’ll look overblown. Maybe playing around with blinds but on an overcast day or a position in the sky where the sun isn’t directly hitting on you, it should work out well. Natural daylight is the most flattering, I find. In addition to that, what I recommend is getting yourself a ring light. You can look up the term ring light on Amazon and there are hundreds of different options. There are small little ones that have an attachment that you can put on the top of your computer for webcam-based filming.
If you are looking at using your smartphone as I do for all of my recordings because your smartphone can record in HD but also 4K, I love using a ring light that has a stand so it acts as my tripod. There’s a little clamp that I put my phone into. It’s quite a large light. It’s about double the size of my head and it’s adjustable. You can adjust both the brightness level as well as the color temperature. I like to set it to the cooler temperature setting, which is closer to daylight, like a blue tone versus tungsten or a warmer tone that might be flattering on certain people. You can play around with that as well.
What about for all of us out there that wear glasses because ring lights maybe don’t work. Is there a way that you can get ring lights to work with glasses? I’ve got a newer one with a diffuser on it. Do ring lights work if I wear glasses?
To be honest, it is very difficult. Even when we’re in our corporate video setup, we have three-point lighting and a professional videographer on set, dealing with glasses can be a challenge. Normally, what we do is try and get the light source high above pointed down at the person. The issue with a ring light is it’s directly in front of your face. That’s why you’ll get the ring light to appear reflected in your glasses. Instead of a circular light, which is going to be hard to try and get into a position where you don’t catch any of it in your glasses, I would recommend looking at more of a box shape. Trying to get it higher up and pointed down and having diffusion on it might help as well.
A quick question back on the teleprompter, what app do you use for your phone?
I used to have an iPhone. When I was using my iPhone, I use the JoeAllen teleprompter app. That one was my favorite and worked well. Unfortunately, I read the reviews for Android when I got a new Android phone and they weren’t the greatest. I have been testing out a new app, which I use to record my newsletter video and it worked pretty well. I don’t love it quite as much as I did the JoeAllen one on my iPhone but it’s called Nano Teleprompter. There are hundreds of them out there. Unfortunately, on Android, I found a lot of them had poor reviews. Find any others that you love on Android, let me know but that’s the one I’ve been using so far.
I haven’t made the switch. I’ve toyed with it but I haven’t. The one that we’ve used is something called BIGVU because you can quickly type your script and then it automatically downloads the phone and it’s got some editing features. It comes up now and again on AppSumo, had a lifetime deal but that’s the one we find good. I could talk all day on this but the last one is the background. I’ll admit, my background’s boring as a bat. I think everyone can fill in the gaps. If you are going to give me some advice on how I could improve my background, what would you recommend?
I like to film where it’s a wall at an angle. Instead of the wall being a flat wall behind you, if you film on an angle, it’ll add more depth. I got that trick from professional videographers when I watched them on our corporate sets and see that they’d never shoot against the flat wall. That’s the first thing. The other thing is I do like to have a simple and clean background because I don’t like anything that’s going to distract or take away from the speaker but I do also like the little pop of color.
In my living room, I do have a beautiful painting on the wall. That’s the direction that I film in to capture a little bit of that. When I started doing home videos back in March 2020 on my smartphone, I would do more of a professional setup with my team. My business partner would film it on a professional camera but when everything started and I started doing it all from my home office, I cleared everything off my desk. I’ve had to live with a clean desk. That’s what I would recommend.
I’ve always got this book in the background. I don’t know why it’s there. A color, for me, would it be a print that would finish off what’s behind me?
I do think something on the wall, maybe to your right would be nice. A little pop of color, nothing that’s too overly distracting and you want to place it in a way where it’s not lining up exactly with your head. It’s either halfway over behind your head or it’s not touching your head at all.
What I’ll do is I’ve got a charity and I’ve got this amazing photo as part of what they do in their brand. That’s what I’ll do, which has got a nice tie-in. Your background looks great with your logo. Is that easy to do?
For all my Zoom calls, I have a virtual background. Zoom has gotten good with their ability to key out a background without any green screen. It’s quite impressive what they’ve been able to accomplish. This is a photo that we had and then my business partner added in a logo. It’s a simple graphic design that you can do for your business. It does add a little professionalism.
It looks like you’ve nearly got that crown on top of your head.
One other thing I will mention because we are talking about backgrounds, when I did film because of what type of video I was doing, I decided not to go with my home office background like I normally do for my LinkedIn videos. I used an actual backdrop of which some people might be familiar with where I have actual stands, poles that go across, and then a backdrop that we ordered off Amazon that looks like a white brick. It was $50. The poles were also around $150. They came with a black, a green and a white sheet. They’re not the highest quality, the one that we particularly got from Amazon for that price range but they do the trick especially when you layer them. That’s another option if you want to do something where not on Zoom, for example, and you can’t instantly key out your background. If you’re filming on your smartphone and you want a change of scenery or something more simple, you can do something like that for not too much of a cost.
You can find more about Vanessa at ArcAndCrown.com. Before we go on to the live section, I like to talk about whether you’ll have a low or high seven-figure business in 2021. You can go to PaulHigginsMentoring.com/assessment. You fill out the assessment, it’s fifteen questions and it takes about three minutes. The great thing is, at the end, you then get the opportunity to have a one-on-one call with me. It’s a call to build a plan around the gaps you’ve identified in the call. It’s not a sales call, it’s a call to help you. If you’ve nailed it and I can’t help you, you get a great opportunity to be on the show like Vanessa. This is the Live section now we’re into Vanessa but thanks for all your tips on videos so far. For you, what are some daily habits that helped you be successful?
How I start my morning early is important for me in my schedule. The alarm goes off at 5:30. I take some time to meditate in the morning, get in the right headspace, slowly get ready, eat some breakfast and then I’m on my computer by 7:00. My team doesn’t get on until 9:00. I have the first two hours of the day to do some things on my plate that I maybe didn’t get checked off the list the day before or sometimes I like to do my filming first thing in the morning because I find that’s when I’m the freshest. Also writing I love doing in the morning. That’s sometimes where I get my best ideas and go through my email list.
Starting off my day, by having that time instead of getting on at 9:00 and being bombarded with everything is something that I like to do. Something else that is important and you are a prime example of this, which is you need to be consistent with the tasks that you have set up for yourself especially things beyond project work. We know when projects come in or you’re working with a client. You’re going to take those meetings, going to do the work that needs to get done but it is the other things, the marketing things, the consistent showing up for your audience on LinkedIn or preparing your email blasts or doing research that you need to do.
Those are the tasks that sometimes fall by the wayside. I try and schedule time in my calendar for them. I make sure that they are our priority as well. We talked about network and that’s something that’s also extremely important to me is being consistent with showing up for the networking events that have committed to because I think it is easy sometimes to be like, “I’ll just go to the next one.” I know I was guilty of that especially before COVID, I had to drive an hour downtown to get to events late at night sometimes, snowy days sometimes. I don’t think you know that pain that we have here in Toronto or early mornings or sometimes that we had networking events at 7:00 AM.
I’d be driving Downtown at 6:00 AM. The snow is never fun but at the end of the day when you do those, it feels good. You feel accomplished, you maybe meet somebody interesting. I’ve always found from my network and the people that I’ve connected with. You never know what can come out of it. Oftentimes it’s 6 months or 1 year or 2 years down the line that somebody will reach back out to you and say, “I kept you in mind and you have a client. We need something.” That’s important to stay on top.
Since April 2019, I’ve been posting three times a week consistently on LinkedIn. I’ve ticked over 2.5 million views. If you look at the years before that, my biggest thing was I didn’t get people’s awareness. I didn’t get people to know who I am now. My business as far as sharing because of that consistency. I couldn’t believe it anymore. The next section is the give section. What’s a community or a charity that you support them. Why?
Opportunity International is a wonderful organization that I was introduced to many years ago. I volunteered for their young people’s group at that time. I fell in love with their format. They give microfinance loans to women and men, although it is predominantly women due to the way that they are set up in developing countries all around the world. It’s supporting entrepreneurs and their aspirations in their business. The way that they’re set up is they have communities within their community. They’ll go to a community and they’ll say, “What do you need the loan for? Find a few other people in your community that also need loans.” That way they’re all connected.
If one person can’t repay their loan one month, everyone else in their community pitches in. They all help one another out. In addition, Opportunity International, the head office go in and they deliver educational sessions. They do mobile banking to help women who sometimes don’t have a signature to be able to put money into a bank. They use a thumbprint. They thought of everything as a way to help people thrive in their own communities and develop the businesses to be able to help their children and help their communities and give back.
I support an organization that’s called The Purple House. It’s the PurpleHouse.org.au. They support indigenous people with dialysis. If you know my background, that’s important to me. Go check that out and donate. All the proceeds to my book, if you want a great book on how to build a business, go and grab my book and also the proceeds of my business in total go to The Purple House. The last section is the rapid-fire section where I’ll ask you some questions and get some rapid-fire answers. The first one is what are your top three personal effectiveness tips?
My first one is to be your own biggest fan. That is something that is important because if you are going to talk about your accomplishments and how you help others, who else will even know to talk about it? The second thing is to trust your gut. I’m somebody who likes to lead with my gut and use my intuition. The last thing, you need to set goals and especially goals for the boring stuff, not just the number that you want to reach but what are all of those little tasks that you need to do so that you can then reach those larger goals.
What’s a piece of technology that’s essential for running your business?
Something we’ve been using a lot is StreamYard. It’s an alternate to Zoom. What’s cool about it is as a producer or a manager, for example, you can hop on, talk to the individual who’s going to appear on camera and then you can hide from view and the other individual can then share their screen and do a presentation. You can record it all, you get the upgraded version, you can record it in HD. They’re starting to implement 4K. They’re a great platform. I heard that they were bought by Hopin if you know that platform which is for events.
I will be moving to stream out in a live recording. That’s another great reason. The next one is ideas. You’ve talked about all the networks. Where else do you find the best source of new ideas?
I don’t have a specific podcast or video recommendation other than this one. My suggestion is to build your network and reaching out to people. What I like to do is informational interviews. I’ll go on LinkedIn and reach out to people that are in a target market that I’m interested in getting more insight on and do an informational interview with them. Not only are you building your network at that time but you are going to discover many interesting tidbits that you didn’t know before you did that.
The last question is what impact do you want to leave on the world?
Especially with what I’ve been doing, I hope that I give people the confidence to put themselves out there and to make their mark on the world because communicating through video can be impactful. Personal branding is important nowadays. Especially in the world that we’re living in where we can’t go out to events and we need to communicate and connect with people online. Inspiring somebody to get started and go out there, put themselves out there, they’re going to realize how their audience reacts to it is way better than they ever thought. If I can inspire people to do that, I would be happy.Be consistent with the tasks that you have set up for yourself, especially things beyond project work. Click To Tweet
Thanks, Vanessa. You gave me lots of tips. We’ve also shared those here and you’ve shared a lot of values. On that point, I know you’ve got a gift for everyone and it’s at ArcAndCrown.com/script. The great thing there is you’ll get some scripts to do some videos for thought leadership, which is fantastic. Vanessa, it’s great having you on the show. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom.
Thank you so much, Paul. It was my honor.
I enjoyed that interview with Vanessa. I got a lot of great ideas and I hope you did as well. What were your key takeaways? I had a lot. Why don’t you mention Vanessa on social, maybe even take a photo of the show to the key point? That would be great. She would love it. It’s a nice way to give back to a guest that was so open and warm with their tips on video, which is important for all of us. I hope you enjoyed that show as much as I did. Vanessa gave so much value. If you liked some of the things she said, why not share them? Share it on your socials, mention Vanessa Holding in it. She would love you for it. There are many great points. You can get that on the website, PaulHigginsMentoring.com/podcast. You can find the script that she mentioned for thought leaders. I know I’ve grabbed it. It’s fantastic. If you’d like to build your pipeline, you lead outside of referrals, we got a fantastic live webinar coming up. Go to PaulHigginsMentoring.com/sales. Please take action to build, live and give.
- Nano Teleprompter
- Opportunity International
- ArcAndCrown Video Course
- Vanessa Holding
About Vanessa Holding
Vanessa Holding is a video producer and coach that helps professionals become video content creators themselves, to showcase their expertise and attract clients. She does this through private coaching and her “Attract Clients with Do-It-Yourself LinkedIn Videos” course.
She focuses on not only the technical side of how to create great videos, but also content and promotion strategy, performance techniques, and much more.
As a video producer, her production company helps corporate communicators, L&D, and marketing professionals get across important, complex, and sometimes dull content in a way that gets attention and compels actions. She’s now taking this expertise, and helping small business owners humanize their brand by creating thought-leadership videos that have clients coming to them.
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