Tips to film your own testimonial

Film your testimonial video following these easy steps

There are times you need to deliver a message on-camera for a presentation. But we don’t always have the luxury of a professional team for filming high-quality interviews. If you’re the one in charge, how do you film your testimonial video? 

I have produced many corporate videos that require remote interviews or testimonials. The client always asks me, how can I set up a DIY shot so it looks good on the final piece? This is why I put together these tips to ensure your material comes out great.

1: Write and rehearse your content

First things first: content is king. Make sure that from the earliest planning phases, you’re on the same page as the producer and the video editor who will put everything together. This ensures that they will get all that they need from you and that your statements make sense within the context of the video. 

It may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s crucial to figure out exactly what you’re going to say before you film your testimonial video. To keep your message precise and succinct, you should carefully plan how you’re going to get your ideas across ahead of time. Prepare your material and rehearse it multiple times, so it doesn’t sound forced. Having a well-prepared script is the only way to make sure you won’t leave out any important information.

Choosing to read off a prompter

While using a prompter allows you to read out your script verbatim, the downside is that it can make one sound stiff and unauthentic. So, if you end up reading off of a prompter, edit the text until it genuinely sounds like you

Remember: how smooth, confident, and convincing you sound completely depends on how much you PRACTICE!

2: Find a suitable location to record your interview

From art direction to depth of field, the space you are in says a lot about you. Before you film your testimonial video, choose an environment that complements the message you are trying to convey. If you’re going for a serious tone, you could choose an office setting. Conversely, if you want to appear more relaxed, then your living room may do the trick.

As any photography enthusiast will tell you, lighting is EVERYTHING. Find a space that’s bright and evenly lit. Do not sit with a window or other bright light source directly behind you. Avoid any possible distractions in your background. You don’t want a background that’s more interesting than you.

3: Consider your wardrobe and accessories

Your outfit is one of the most important ways to elevate your presentation while you record your interview. A neatly pressed shirt and matching accessories can make the video look more professional– but this is really all about personal style. 

Choose an outfit that doesn’t take attention away from you, the subject. It’s a good idea to have a couple of options handy in case the color you choose blends in with the background. A good rule of thumb for choosing an outfit for a video is to always wear solid colors. Avoid any intricate prints or patterns, as don’t translate very well into video, especially when the image is sized down.

Avoid wearing noisy jewelry. It doesn’t matter how pretty a watch or earrings are if they ruin your audio. If upon moving or slightly shaking you can hear your accessories chime, pick something else or drop the accessory altogether.

4: Get yourself camera-ready to film your testimonial video

The idea that “H&MU” or hair and makeup only applies to women is a huge misconception. Grooming is key for any interview presentation. 

Upon filming, lightly applying a bit of translucent powder takes care of shiny spots in the forehead, nose and cheeks. If you choose to wear makeup, favor natural shades that complement your complexion. Style your hair however you feel most comfortable, and make sure you have your styling tools handy at the time of the shoot in case you need small touch ups. Gentlemen should plan to groom as if they were attending an important meeting. 

Bonus tip: Drinking water or fluids to hydrate before going on-camera will make you feel and look better, giving you a well-rested appearance. 

5: Review your camera settings and format before you record your interview

Thanks to today’s technology, most people have a camera which can be used for filming an interview right in their pockets. Smartphone video quality is usually acceptable for a corporate video, but if you can get access to a better lens, go for it. Every pixel counts!

Film in native color, that is, standard settings. Stay away from filters and odd lenses, as these could ruin your image. In your camera’s settings, choose a video resolution and select the highest quality available for video. Common specs are 1080p, a framerate of 30 fps. Make sure your lens is clean and unobstructed.

6: Make sure you capture quality audio

Sound clarity directly impacts your message delivery, so good audio is critical to record your interview. To obtain excellent audio, find a quiet space with little echo where you won’t be interrupted. You wouldn’t take a speakerphone call in the middle of a busy restaurant! Speak loudly, clearly, and slowly, paying close attention to your diction.

Record a high resolution file

Explore your Audio Format Settings and make sure you are capturing the highest quality audio you can. Lossless, 48k sample rate and high bitrate is ideal. If you’re saving audio onto an external sound recorder choose WAV or AIFF formats. Check the audio inputs are unobstructed.

Mute your smartphone

If you are using your phone to film your testimonial video, turn off notifications so the device doesn’t interrupt your filming. Even if you aren’t using your phone but have it nearby, silence it while you’re shooting.

Use a lavalier mic

Use a lavalier microphone and clip it to your shirt or jacket as near to your mouth as you can. I really like this Polsen OLM-10 Omnidirectional Lavalier mic because it has a 3.5mm output connector, which is a popular way to plug into a consumer-grade camera. It also has a long cable so the subject can sit away from the camera.

Before you record your interview video, ensure the head of the mic is not rubbing against your clothing or skin. Capture a short audio sample and listen closely for any noise. Point your mic towards your mouth.

When using a wired lavalier microphone, make sure you tuck in the cables nicely. Nothing ruins a nice outfit like a long, tangled cable dangling from a shirt.

A popular alternative: Although they are esthetically difficult to hide, Airpods are a simple solution for clean audio.

7: Set up your lights

Sometimes you need a little lighting to lift your shot. If this is the case, there are multiple inexpensive solutions such as the popular selfie ring lights. My favorite are these Yongnuo LED Tube Lights that can be set up on small stands and adjusted to achieve the perfect fill-light to record your interview. I love that they’re powerful enough that I can position them far from my subject and outside of my shot, yet still get great lighting.

Make sure your added oomph of lighting isn’t too dazzling! Don’t make the light so bright and intense that you can’t open your eyes, or that it makes strange hot spots in your shot.

8: Frame and shoot your testimonial

The selfie era has made portrait shots more common, but you should always film horizontally. This angle, usually called a wide angle shot, uses 16×9 dimensions. Unless specifically directed to do so for mobile media, never film your testimonial video tall or as a vertical shot.

Ideally, you should try to record using a tripod to set up your camera which will give you more freedom to find good angles. Set it on a stable surface. Choose a comfortable stool or low-backed chair to sit on, then keep yourself, the subject, in the center or slightly off-center in the frame. Make sure your shoulders and the top of your head are inside the frame and facing the camera. 

Now here comes the hard part for you camera-shy people! Look into the camera and avoid looking down or shifting your gaze too much. You may also look slightly off camera if someone else is asking you questions.

And… ACTION! Film a couple of versions of your take. Record your script 2-3 times so the editor has multiple options to work from.

9: Send your testimonial video file

The following steps are vital to the final outcome of your testimonial video, especially if you’re sending your recorded material to a remote editor. 

When sending the content, never attach raw video files via Whatsapp or email. Doing so compresses the file, making it look grainy and distorted. Instead, upload your uncompressed files (just as they came out of the camera) to a file-sharing platform such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or wetransfer

Bottom Line

A thorough pre-production ensures a successful end-result. Filming your testimonial video requires paying attention to a lot of small details, so spend some time planning every aspect of your shot before you film. Though you should make sure your script is well-written and practiced, lighting, high quality equipment, and a well-groomed appearance also play an important role in creating a polished video testimonial.