How to Make Your Practice Perfect

CaptureI remember the first promotional video I ever made. It was to promote a one day event I used to run called the Business Growth Workshop. The video was about two minutes long and took me a whole day to do. I had no script. As soon as I looked into the camera’s dead black aperture my mind would go blank. I would need about three or four takes for every sentence. Then I’d have to edit it all together which would take hours. I’d be left with a disjointed patchwork video with which I was not at all happy.

The problem was that I didn’t want to write the script. I’ve done several videos now and until last week I had never written a script. I listened to lots of marketing gurus who said I didn’t need a script; I need to be me etc etc.

Then I watched a video by some guy who teaches the use of video in marketing. He has an Emmy for video editing.

He said I needed a script.

The implication was stop being such an amateur. You are a grown up. Act like one. Write a script.

As he said this the video cut to a second camera which panned around to look at his autocue and there it was – I was reading what he was saying as he was saying it.  

It was a lightbulb moment.

I assumed he had some preternatural ability to speak in a conversational manner without pause or hesitation. And because it was so conversational I assumed it couldn’t be scripted. Because it’s difficult to write in a conversational tone, although I try to do this in this blog.  

So for the video I made last week I wrote a script.

Or rather, to help with the conversational style, I took some notes and then ad-libbed into a Dictaphone. Then I used software to transcribe the audio into Word. I then edited the Word doc and used that as a draft script. One more round of ad-libbing and transcription and I had my script.

I then shot the video. Now I don’t have an autocue (yet!) and I’m shy so I used screen capture. I recorded the audio twice, chose one version, put slides over it, did a wee bit of editing and that’s it – done.

Total elapsed time was around two hours instead of a day for what I believe is a better result than my original winging it approach.

I cannot tell you…

…how much more relaxed I felt during the whole process. It shows in my tone of voice.

And I’m kicking myself for the way I used to do video. Because it was so painful I have not done nearly as much as I should have. And I should have known what I was doing was wrong because I am aware of the processes used by those who know what they are doing…it takes two to three years to make a major movie and I know that they film for only sixteen or so weeks. The major part of making a movie is NOT shooting the scenes. It’s the preparation – script writing, location scouting, rehearsal and editing. Pressing record on the camera is the easy bit, if you are prepared and have a plan. If you are not prepared and don’t have a plan, the practice is painful.

Practice is critically important to skill development. What I was doing was doing something badly and hoping that through repetition it will come good.

But this doesn’t work.

Here’s the key to practice:


Every time I made a video I should have done it right: script/shoot/edit. The key for me being the script part. What I needed to get right was becoming good at script writing whereas what I was trying to do was to become good at perfect ad-libbing to the camera. It was unlikely that I could achieve that. I had the wrong objective and all the practice in the world was never going to help.

Practice does not make perfect.

Perfect practice makes perfect.

The practice must be perfect. Never do it wrong. Do it slowly if you need to. Do it in bits. But never do it wrong. I’m not saying my video is perfect but I do feel I have made a big stride forward and now I feel confident and enthusiastic about video.

We all do things wrong in our lives because we feel we don’t have the time or skill to do it right. This is dumb.

If you’re interested, the scripted video I did last week is a short sales video where I am offering a signed and dedicated copy of my beautiful hardback book How to Coach Yourself at a discount to Amazon (don’t tell them!) It’s here.

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