I think I set a new record for personal impatience today. It took me less than thirty seconds to snort angrily and say "I don't have time for this." And I was referring to something only a minute and a half long!
The scenario was a free resource helpfully posted by an entrepreneur in a LinkedIn professional interests group. That person had absolutely no malice in their offering, so I am going to be extremely circumspect in specifics about the video. My goal is not to embarrass the presenter nor do I want to cast aspersions on the value of the content itself.
The resource was titled beautifully. It quickly encapsulated exactly what was on offer. Made me want to see it. It promised a checklist with several essentials for accomplishing a specific business goal. Great!
I clicked the link and found myself on YouTube. I glanced down at the time bar. The video duration was only one minute thirty eight seconds. Fantastic! I'll be in and out in no time.
Then the presentation started. PowerPoint slides with the host company's logo big and bold at the top of each slide. Big text on a white background. And the presenter read the text out loud to me. It actually took me only eight seconds to move the slider bar forward to try and get past the introductory setup telling me how fantastic this presentation was.
At thirty seconds, the actual content was presented. Big numbered bullets each containing a short 1 to 3 word concept. Each one appeared on the screen in list format as the presenter read it out loud. And that's where I turned off the video. I couldn't be bothered to spend even the measly one remaining minute.
Afterwards, I tried to analyze why this simple, to-the-point, short presentation left me feeling angry. I went back and watched the video all the way through. It was a teaser for a free eBook promising more detail on each of the bulleted points. It ended with a well-stated, clear and concise call to action (download the eBook). No problem with that.
In trying to break down my negative reaction, I decided that several things contributed:
1) I was promised information that would provide business value to me. What I saw was glossy, high-level buzzwords that obviously needed more context and detail to be truly useful. It turned out that to get the value I wanted, I had to take another step and access a different resource. I wanted the presentation itself to be the value provider. Setting my expectations more accurately for the video would have helped.
2) I got the right information in the wrong format. Let's say #1 is too harsh. I was promised a checklist and I got a checklist. Okay. But the value of a checklist is that you can scan all the items quickly and conveniently in a compact list format. Seeing each item presented in a series of animated builds, spread across multiple slides is inherently frustrating. I know I can't instantly memorize 10, 15, or 20 bulleted items shown once and then removed from view. It makes me feel that the presenter is out to prove how clever he/she is, rather than thinking of what will be the most useful to me, the consumer.
3) I got no additional value from the video presentation that I couldn't have received more quickly and conveniently through a handout, image, or online reference. Watching a video is not just a commitment of my time, it relinquishes all control over the way I choose to prioritize, focus, and assimilate the content. I am forced to take in the information in the sequence and at the speed determined by the presenter. I have basic literacy… I can scan a written list of 10 or 15 quickly summarized concepts much faster than someone can read them to me. I can then decide which ones warrant more focus. Having the presenter read each bullet point to me without providing any additional insight or value made me angry. "Just give me the damned list if you're not going to contribute anything!"
4) The introduction to the material was short… Only 30 seconds. And yet it managed to feel too long. It felt like it was still trying to sell me on why the information was valuable, even though I had already made the commitment to watch. Assume I already care… Otherwise I wouldn't be here! And although 30 seconds is short, it represented 30% of the total presentation duration. If I attended a 60-minute webinar, would I want the first 18 minutes to be introduction? The value of a fast guerrilla video is that it wastes no time. You need to be ruthless about editing non-informational content.
Our internet attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. If you want to grab your audience with a video message, make sure you use the medium to provide additional value they couldn't get through more traditional information delivery channels. If you are just using video to "turn the pages of the book" for them while you read the story out loud, you may face a negative knee-jerk reaction such as I had.