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5 things you need to know before you shoot your next video

maps, computer, planning, compass
Today’s post is about P2. Plan and how to create one before you shoot your next video.

Early in my career when I worked in the telecommunications industry, I had a boss whose favorite saying was “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will do.”

It was sage advice. I soon learned if you don’t have a plan for where you’re going, there’s a really good chance you’ll end up somewhere other than where you want to be.

It’s the same thing for on camera appearances, if you don’t know your purpose and what you hope to achieve, any road will do, and you probably won't be too happy with where you end up.

Why winging it won’t work

When I talk about creating a plan for shooting a video, some people roll their eyes because they do a lot of speaking and they feel like it’s something that will just take care of itself.

Or, they think it’s overkill - after all, it’s just a Facebook live video - right?

I see it all the time on social media with so many options (and growing) to go live with the push of a button.

And because it’s so easy to hit “go live” lots of folks feel like they can just wing it. And we all know what happens then, they just keep going, and going and going….not sure where they are headed or when to stop.

Others feel like because they speak of the cuff at work in front of small and large groups (as subject matter experts) they can do that on video too.

Unfortunately, in most instances, that’s not the case.

I’ve seen people who speak in front of audiences for work or their product step in front of the camera and wing it and be sadly disappointed in the results. Afterwards, they tell me they’ve lost sleep over how poorly they did AND on more than one occasion I’ve had people ask if they can reshoot because they “blew it”.

The common denominator in all these cases is they relied on the fact that they knew their topic, they just hadn’t planned on how to present it in front of the camera.

"When the stakes are high, you can’t just wing it."

That’s why you need a plan…

When you have about 3 seconds to capture someone’s attention and they have lots of choices about what to watch, it pays to plan how you will deliver your message and what visuals you are going to use in your video.

I’m not saying you have to be perfect, however you can be effective, comfortable and credible with a little planning.

Remember a plan is a roadmap to get you from where you are to where you want to be.

It’s a way to get clear about your message, action plan, what resources you need, how you will implement your action plan and of course, what success looks like.

So how to do you get started?

Ask some more questions. And then some more.

In my last post, we got clear about our purpose and asked and answered why we were creating our video and what we wanted to achieve. If you missed it you can read it here.

Now it’s time to ask: Where and how.

When you create a plan for video there’s 5 things you’ll want to focus on ahead of tim

  • Location

  • Audio

  • Lighting

  • Wardrobe, make up, hair

  • Resources, props and other visuals

We are going to cover a lot of ground here, so I created a checklist you can download to follow along.

1. What is the environment like where are you going to shoot your video or photos?

Will you be indoors or outdoors? Studio? Conference Room? You need to consider this when you are thinking about what you’ll wear.

What is the backdrop? If it’s black, then you want to don’t want to wear black or a dark suit because you'll blend in.

How many cameras? One or many? Where will they be located?How large is the room? It matters for staging, wardrobe and sound. And it will make a difference on how you prepare your slides to make sure the folks in the back of the room can see.

If you’re shooting in your home office or going live in the field, you have one camera it matters how it’s positioned.

If you are recording live, how many people are in the audience? Remember in finding our purpose, we asked who is in the audience? Now we want to know how many people will be attending. This will help you prepare mentally and anticipate how you will connect. How much time do you have to speak? Or how long do you want your video to be?

If you are speaking, find out who will introduce you and do they have questions for you or can you provide them? (if they are providing the questions, see if you can get them ahead of time.)It takes the mystery out of game day when you know what your environment will be. It’s hard to plan when you don’t know where you are going.

2. What about audio?

There’s an industry saying, audio without video is radio, and think about how fast you’ll look for something else when the audio is poor. You are far more likely to forgive bad video if you can hear the message clearly. Knowing what type of microphone you will use will ensure good audio.


Will you be using a lapel microphone, handheld or headset? (most of the time you can ask ahead)If you are going to be using a lapel microphone, you want to be sure to wear something that has a place for the microphone and body pack. If you are using a handheld, you want to think about advancing your slides and holding the microphone.

Is there a lot of background noise where you will be recording your video? Are you going to be doing interviews? If so, a handheld microphone is easier to navigate. It’s worth investing in a good microphone.

3. Lighting

This is something that can make or break a video. Poor lighting makes it hard for your viewers to connect and can send the wrong message. Even in low light situations, there are things you can do to make sure you look your best, even for live social media.


What kind of lighting is available - natural light or studio or field lights? If you are not used to speaking with bright lights it can be very intimidating. Good to know this.

If you are outdoors, the time of day will affect light and shadows. Visit the site ahead of time at the same time of day to see if the location you’re thinking about is well lit. If you have control of the time of the event, you can plan for the best light. If not, you know that you may have challenges you need to plan for.

But I don’t have any way of finding this out :0(

Sometimes you will have complete control, some control or none at all when it comes to location, lighting and sound. If you think ahead and plan for the worst, you’ll always come out better than if you didn’t ask in the first place.

I call the hotel ahead of time and ask for their A/V department or check their website for photos. Taking a few minutes to do your homework takes a ton of mystery out of the event and lets you relax and prepare accordingly. I can’t emphasize this pre-planning enough.

Okay, are you still with me? I know this is a lot to digest, so don’t forget to download your checklist here.

What’s next?

Now that you are clear on the why, what, where and how, you can start mapping out your plan.Start with the room layout - where will you be, where will the cameras be, and the lights. Will you get a chance to adjust to how bright they are ahead of time. What type of microphone?

If you do a lot of Facebook live video from your home office, this still applies - make sure your background supports your brand and your message and that you have good audio and are well lit and your visuals are clear and easy to read.

If you have a window, face it. If you need extra lighting get some. You can purchase a simple ring light to bring up the overall light levels in your room, or if you have the space, invest in a 3 point lighting kit. I use daylight bulbs in my office lamps from Home Depot to fill it what the window does not.

Once you are clear about your environment and how you fit into the event you can start refining the messages you want to deliver and the visuals to support your messages. If you have a marketing strategy, decide which messages you want to use and what visuals will you need to create.

We’ll talk about creating key messages in a future post. Right now we are focusing on the big picture.

Can see how purpose and planning hold hands when you are preparing for an on camera appearance? Best of all you can do this ahead of time on paper and save yourself time, money and frustration.

My friend Mike Kim did a great podcast on how he prepares when he’s presenting. Here’s a link and it’s definitely worth the time to listen.

4. What should I wear?

This is the single question I get asked the most and my response is, it depends on all of the above.

Here are questions to answer to help you decide on what to wear:

  • Are you indoors, outdoors, on stage, in the field?

  • Is the occasion casual, formal or somewhere in between?

  • What is the message you want to deliver and outcome you want?

  • What visually supports your brand?

Your personal brand style is really important here - showing up in jeans and a dress shirt may be fine for some brands, yet out of alignment with others. Podcast episode #5 is all about what to wear on camera and there's a download with it too.

Pay attention to what your audience expects from your brand. We covered this on my podcast in my interview with graphic designer Jason Clement on episode 21 - you can check it out here.

This is an important part of your plan as you need to leave time to go shopping if you don’t have the appropriate wardrobe for your appearance. I will go over what to wear in more depth in a future post.

5. Resources, props and other visuals

This is super easy to overlook and can make or break your presentation.

Considerations: How big do you need to make the font on your slides? Being able to account for all of this takes a lot the the anxiety out of presenting and you can plan so you look your best.

If you are going to use props, practice, make sure you know when and where and that they are within reach and easy for your audience to see. I have my own remote to advance slides just in case there's a malfunction or there just isn't one!

Do you have something that you will be using on stage? Do you need an easel? Is it large enough for people in the back of the room to see?

Summing It Up

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do.

Think about creating a plan as a roadmap to get you exactly where you want to go from where you are.

You need to know where you are going, create an action plan, determine what resources you need, how you will implement your plan and determine what success looks like.

Prior planning will prevent poor performance.

All good videos and photos are dependent on location, lighting and sound and a clear sense of your purpose.

Once you start thinking in these terms, you can prepare accordingly, even if it’s for a live social media video, you are doing the little things that are going to make sure you look, feel and sound your best and that will make your videos stand out.

P2 - Plan is all about thinking about the BIG picture.

It’s so much cheaper and more efficient to work out the details of a video shoot or appearance on paper ahead of time.

Use a checklist to plan for:

  • Location

  • Audio

  • Lighting

  • Visuals

  • Wardrobe, make up, hair

  • Resources (props, etc.)

If you get stuck, ask yourself this question:

What do you want your audience to take away from watching this video?

Then create a plan to achieve that outcome.

Okay, I promised I’d keep this brief so you can easily get some new ideas to use right away.

Thanks for stopping by. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future post, leave it in the comments below or email me at

Join me next week when I break down the third P - Presence. And if you’d like to listen to more on getting prepared to be on camera, you can listen to my podcast Camera Ready With Val Brown.

Thanks for reading - and remember, prior planning prevents poor performance.

Val Brown is an Emmy Award winning television producer, story, visual and personal brand consultant, coach, and speaker. She consults and coaches high performing business professionals and entrepreneurs looking to up their game and increase their confidence and credibility on camera. Val teaches you how to use your story to support your brand in video and photos. 

p.s. I’d love to connect on social media and hear your questions and concerns about being in front of the camera.

Twitter: @valbrown08

©2019 Val Brown all rights reserved


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