There’s a great line from an episode of Seinfeld when George and Jerry are pitching their “show about nothing” to NBC’s top executive Russell. After a bit of back and forth Russell tries desperately to understand what the show is about.
The exchange goes like this:
Russell: Well, why am I watching it?
George: Because it’s on TV!
Russell: (threateningly) Not yet.
As a profession, I produce videos for brands. That means I find myself watching tons of videos. All different kinds.
I’ll search for keywords and find myself in a vortex of videos, some interesting, some extremely obscure.
And no matter how many videos I watch or what kind they are, I find myself asking the same question over and over again:
Why am I watching this?
Every single person on the internet is their own media network now. We get to publish whatever we want without a worry about being cancelled or canned by a network executive.
Unfortunately, many people take that as permission to pump out loads of dull, low quality content.
That’s fine. That’s their right. Nobody said everything on the internet needs to be beautiful, magical and full of meaning.
And that gives you an opportunity. Compared to the rest of the monotony online you can stand out with relative ease using one simple trick.
If you make some sort of a living online, if you seek to build an audience, if you want to share your story with others, all you have to do is ask yourself:
Why am I watching this?
Watch your own video, read your own script, read your own blog post, and ask: Why am I doing this?
If you can’t give a good reason, chances are nobody will be able to either.
It’s not about the production quality or the lighting or the camera or the crew… it’s about how well you know what matters and what doesn’t about your communication.
Think about this: what’s the worst that can happen? What’s the worst thing that can happen when you launch your video or blog post or product or whatever?
It’s not that they’ll make fun of you. It’s not that they’ll despise you or lose respect in you. In order for those to happen they need to notice you.
The worst thing that can happen is that it’s ignored. Nobody notices.
The best way you can avoid that is to ask yourself some form of this question:
- Why am I doing this?
- What will people get out of this?
- What do I want people to take away from this?
- What am I really trying to say?
One trick here is to distance yourself from your work. You need to be able to form intelligent opinions about it.
Friends, family and mastermind groups can give honest feedback and help you (continually) create awesome content.
They’re like Roman Litter bearers walking behind you whispering in your ear “Thou art mortal, thou art mortal.”
Not to say you should double think every single thing you create, but have a healthy awareness of what is working and what is not. The answer to “why?” should always be a good one.
If you paused for three seconds before creating, posting, or otherwise uploading something, your communication would connect harder and hit the target more often. Which is what you were looking for in the first place.
Video is subject to probably more and possibly harsher critique than any other form of content on the internet because it’s so easy to consume and requires minimal thought to tear down. There is so much we can find fault with from the person on camera, to the lighting, sound, subject matter, etc.
As far as critical fodder goes, video is the ripest, lowest hanging fruit.
And while this post isn’t about lighting or iPhone videography or editing tricks, none of that is as important as this one single tip:
Know where you want to go before you start walking.
If you don’t know what you’re going to say, you are not going to find it when you hit the record button.
Think of your viewer asking: why am I watching this?
People rarely enjoy watching others figure out what it is they want to say. It’s like teaching kindergarten. You ask your class what one plus one is and some kid in the back starts telling you about his collection of blue socks.
If you want to connect with your readers and watchers, if you want your communication to connect and resonate, begin with the end in mind.
Here’s a little secret: you know all those television shows you love so much? They didn’t start out so great. Pilots for shows are typically boring or weird or disconnected and generally not good.
So how do they end up getting made? Because a good pilot doesn’t show perfection… it shows promise.
You may not be able to make content at the level you want right now, but you can show your audience promise. People are hungry to connect and sensitive to authenticity. Start by asking: why would I watch this?
Here’s a question for you: what current project are you working on and how can you be more sensitive to your audience’s why? Tell us in the comments and I’ll respond.