World premiere. Meet the Mariott School Ambassadors

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Oh this feels good. After spending most of 2012 in production we are chuffed beyond words to introduce you to the Marriott Support Services School Ambassadors; specifically, their videos which will be used to land this team of roaming talkers some gigs. (More about how you can help in a bit.)

public speakers with disabilities in Australia

Coming to a screen near you: the Marriott School Ambassadors.

The videos, made possible via the support of Department of Human Services Victoria, will be used to introduce the world to the ambassadors who roam the countryside speaking about the transition from school to training, education and work. Each has overcome more than their fair share of obstacles – disability, bullying, literacy issues, the complexities of public transport, other people’s low expectations. The talks are short, sharp and aimed at school groups, parents, teachers, people with disability, young people, employers, institutions, employer peak bodies, disability services, expos, fora and more –  anyone who could benefit from hearing direct from a group that is not heard from often enough. There is no charge to the client but the ambassadors get a rather nice speaking fee. Any recommendations?

Beyond working on the videos with Sam Tzouramanis of Evoco Design, Hootville has separately worked with these and other Marriott School Ambassadors on their presentation skills through a series of workshops and one-to-one coaching. The learning curve has been steep and rapid. Brett has repeatedly had his expectations gazumped. It’s amazing how a little bar-lifting, showbizzing and comfort dezoning can yield results. The ambassadors were troopers but now they need a whole batch of new gigs.

We think that more (make that every) nonprofit should use more video, more often on their website. It can be used to deliver testimonials from donors, members, staff or volunteers and of course it can rapidly promote your speakers or services. Call us.

Here’s some observations on creating effective videos:

Have a vision and set thy sites high. TV has been around a while now and thus people have pretty clear expectations. They may say they don’t care about slick production but that is so much bollocks. The better quality and more interesting the videos, the more persuasive you are. We aimed for a slick but authentic vibe. Why should shadows cover faces, why should audio be unintelligible. Our crew spent an inordinate amout of time lighting and staging the sets and repeatedly moved location for the one-to-one interviews to avoid repetition. The graphics for the videos are a tribute to Sam of Evoco Design. Everyone on the project went above and beyond the call – and budget.

Communciations commandment #1: Know thy purpose: ours was to gain ambassadors more speaking opportunities.

Don’t write a script: we did prepare questions in advance allowing everyone to rehearse their responses but there were NO SCRIPTS. This meant that the interviews took a long time and were much harder to edit but it also meant that the ambassadors were speaking in their own voice. We just kept the cameras rolling as Brett questioned and coaxed. 

Prepare to shoot more vision than you ever thought necessary: watch two and a half minutes of TV news and you’ll likely see the newsreader, the reporter twice, several spokespeople, shots of the spokespeople talking to the reporter, spokespeople walking or talking on the phone, buildings, signage, a document, a graphic and more. That’s a lot of “vision”. If you want to keep savvy, impatient audiences interested you better do likewise. Prospective donors, staff and the like don’t care if you are a nonprofit – their standards don’t lower.

We shot one-to-one interviews with all ambassadors, shots of them rehearsing, various staged shots of them in leisure mode (reading comics, drinking coffee, hamming it up) added graphics, music, supplied videos and anything else we could think of. Inevitably this extra footage means additional dollars but it makes for a far superior product.

We engaged two professional camera operators for the one-to-one interviews to have more options in the edit suite. Josh and Aaron were superb.

Invest some dollars: buy the best people you can – you may have a suitable volunteer or teenager with a camera phone but the chances of them shooting, editing and packaging video to a suitable quality are slim.

Don’t create a DVD – put videos online. How many nonprofits have DVDs sitting on shelves? Too many. Give them life online. 

Keep ’em short: everyone says that they understand how impatient people are but few have the courage to edit and edit and shave and reduce as necessary. In fact some of these videos could be compressed a tad – oh well.

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