I love all the tools people can use to publish on the internet today!
There was a time, not too long ago, when it was hard to publish on the web. You had to know HTML, and how to set up an Apache web server, and other esoteric technical stuff, before you could put your first word or image out there.
Now anyone can publish anything to a global audience.
Those of us without a professional degree in journalism sung the praises of the way these technologies flattened the playing field and allowed all voices to be heard. But this access has also brought another painful reality to light:
Writers really need editors. And readers deserve to read edited writing.
Whether it is words, video, images, or any combination of the three, there needs to be someone beyond the source who can look at the material with a critical and trained eye, and make changes. When someone reads your words, they are spending their time, attention, and mental effort on you. They are literally PAYING attention. And you need to do everything in your power to provide value commensurate with what they are “paying” you.
(The irony of taking this stance in a blog post is not lost on me.)
Blogs that start in one place and ramble off somewhere else without closure… videos that are tedious and boring due to length… videos with poor lighting or sound… every single image taken at an event being posted to a Flickr stream, instead of just the good ones… The amount of information on the Internet may be growing by a huge amount every single day, but in my estimation only about 2% of that meets any sort of minimal quality standard.
This was vividly illustrated to me over the past 3 days as I edited some video interviews I shot over the weekend.
On first viewing, the interview I did with Xandra – for example – was a great conversation and nothing could be cut! There was so much there! People would LOVE this!
Then I noticed it was 10 minutes long. And I was going to release these videos on YouTube and publish them to Facebook… where people won’t even watch a full 3 minute music video with half-naked dancing girls!
So I started cutting the video into sections. I started with the end of sentences. Every time a sentence ended, I cut it there. Now I had the interview chunked into sentences.
Which also led me to deleting the “umms” and “errs” that we naturally add before and after a thought.
Then I realized several of these sentences covered the same content from different angles, so I thought about the audience, and deleted the sentences that didn’t speak directly to that audience.
While in “thinking-like-the-audience” mode, I realized that the content of the interview was slightly backwards. The conversation started at a fairly high level, but then we worked down to the details. The audience was going to be interested in key details… not about the big-picture thinking that led to the high-level discussion we started with.
So I flipped most of the interview around, and moved several of the later questions to the front. This worked well because it took us a couple of minutes to get into the groove of the conversation, and the later parts of the discussion were much more dynamic and fun.
So now I have the video starting out with fun and witty banter on specific topics. It was catchy and engaging because you could see the two people talking were having a lot of fun.
So that slower-paced, higher-level content that I moved to the end of the video? Yeah. I cut that out entirely.
Now I was down to about 4 minutes of good video.
Adding an intro and end slide (with the call to action on it), and a title slide before each question, I was up to about 4:45 in length.
Honestly, about twice as long as it needed to be.
And that is where I stand today. How can I possibly cut more out of an unstructured conversation and maintain any coherent flow? What does the audience want to hear, and how do I keep them entertained and engaged enough to get to the call to action at the end?
… which is why I am writing a blog post on the topic, rather than editing the video right now …
If only I had used an editor for this blog post… they’d probably point out that I didn’t tie up my initial thesis into a nice bow at the end. And it rambled a bit in the middle when I got into the details of video editing. Should make that part snappier. And a photo always catches the reader’s eye and keeps them engaged with long, wordy posts like this one. And, well, we have been thinking about the direction this blog is going in, and would like to meet with you in the Editor’s office at 2:PM…