Video Best Practices: Have a Purpose

A Meandering Road

I presented these slides at LavaCon 2015. My hope is that people will comment with their experiences and feedback. I’d love to hear of any resources to add, especially if it comes from small businesses.

Have one purpose
Have ONE clear purpose to prevent you from meandering around like this road.

High Points

  • Have a point. Don’t meander. Stay on target.
  • Write down your ONE target, your call to action, and some metrics defining success while you’re at it.
  • Consider putting call to action in the middle of your video, and then again at the end.
  • Reasons to do a video and not to do a video.


What is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything? Just kidding. But sometimes that’s how a video feels. It starts meandering around, trying to cover three or four topics. Seriously, have a purpose.

Why are you doing a video? When the user finishes watching, what should he or she be thinking, feeling, or doing? Too many videos (and written content) are like this road, meandering through the countryside. You don’t want your user to think “I just wasted four minutes of my life! What’s the point?” Watching bad video reminds me of Count Rugen in the Princess Bride, interrogating Wesley as the Dread Pirate Robert after he just sucked a few years of his life.*

Identify ONE target outcome. When the user is finished watching your video, it should be crystal clear. Once you have that target purpose created, write it down.

You also need a clear call to action. People are inherently lazy. Provide them with links. Know your audience. Also, consider putting your call to action 2/3 of the way in, and then again at the end. Or preview your call to action while talking (below this video in the description, and also at the end of this video, you’ll get a link to our website.)

Also write down target metrics. Define what a “success” looks like.

Reasons to do video:

  • A feature is hidden (generate attention)
  • Showing is easier and more efficient than describing (training)
  • Create personal connection and emotional attachment between you and users (customer testimonials, video series, Q&A sessions)
  • Establish yourself as an authority or expert. (Consistency and professionalism to make people trust your source better)

Reasons NOT to do video

  • Procedure is either really short and simple
  • Procedure is really long and complicated

Photo credits:


For further reading:

  • The best and quite comprehensive collection set is from VidYard: and

* Count Rugen: [admiring his torture contraption] Beautiful isn’t it? It took me half a lifetime to invent it. I’m sure you’ve discovered my deep and abiding interest in pain. Presently I’m writing the definitive work on the subject, so I want you to be totally honest with me on how the machine makes you feel. This being our first try, I’ll use the lowest setting.

[Count Rugen activates the water powered torture machine. Wesley writhes in great pain]

Count Rugen: [calmly] As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old. Really that’s all this is except that instead of sucking water, I’m sucking life. I’ve just sucked one year of your life away. I might one day go as high as five, but I really don’t know what that would do to you. So, let’s just start with what we have. What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity so be honest. How do you feel?

[Wesley cries and moans in pain]

Count Rugen: Interesting.