How To Create Engaging Online Videos: 6 Questions To Answer Before Pressing Record

Play by Annie Roi

I’d be preaching to the choir if I tried to convince you that online videos are the future of branding and marketing for your business.

Yet so many of us still struggle with getting started creating videos of our own.

As a professional actress, on-camera consultant, and Creative Director of a rising web-video production company, I’ve coached a wide variety of entrepreneurs and small business owners with their online videos. While there are numerous tricks of the trade I employ to help make people as comfortable and confident as possible, nothing surpasses the ability to adopt the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared.

The same is true for those of us creating videos for our business websites.

Here are 6 questions to answer before pressing record for your online videos:


Knowing your role is crucial for determining how you will deliver the content. Are you the teacher? Perhaps talking straight to camera with graphic bullet points is the way to go. Are you the confiding best friend? Try delivering your content from your couch, coffee in hand. Whatever you decide, make sure your delivery is consistent with the rest of your brand.


What is the format of the video? Is it a weekly Q&A? A product launch? An introduction to your services? The style and language used in each of these are vastly different. Think about how different an infomercial sounds from a daytime talk show, to a nightly news broadcast. Each example offers information but in very specific ways.


Where will the video “live”? Is this for the home page of your website? Part of an e-course? An interview for another website? In other words, it is imperative to know who your audience will be. Just as with real-life relationships, we can be more straightforward with people we know well than with people we meet for the first time.


The real point here is about length of time. One of the most common mistakes I see with online videos is they are way too long. Five minutes can be an eternity for the viewer. That’s why planning out what you are going to say is crucial to creating engaging content. Keep honing your script until you’ve whittled down each point into a sentence or two and eliminated run-on sentences.


How do you want the audience to feel during and after your video? Motivated to take on their biggest fear? Giddy with excitement? Grateful to find someone else who feels the same way? You’re leading the battle charge. To borrow a concept from the acting world, in every scene your character must ask him/herself: What do I want the other person to do and how am I going to get them to do it?


Most importantly, why are you creating video content in the first place? Like most marketing tactics, doing something just because everyone else is doing it won’t get you the results you are looking for. Take some time to think about how video can help share your story and the story of your business. Most importantly, stay true to yourself and your brand!

Video offers a connection with your audience that no other online medium can. Yes, there are plenty of tips and tricks of the trade to learn when it comes to speaking with confidence on camera. But the first step is clarifying the who, what, when, where, how, and why behind the message.

…and that’s a wrap!

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Monica McCarthy has over a decade of experience as a bicoastal actress in film, television, commercials, and on Broadway. She recently founded her own boutique production company based out of NYC, with the purpose of helping small businesses, entrepreneurs, and artisans share their stories on camera. For more information visit and say hello on Twitter @MissMMcCarthy. Note: Close Up & Personal, Monica's 6-week online course to get you on-camera ready starts this week!


  1. Monica,

    I stumbled upon this post and it was perfect timing. Thought I’d share a bit of why I have not hit “Record”.
    I have procrastinated doing video tutorials to serve my followers for all the wrong reasons. (as if there are any ‘right’ reasons!).

    Here are a few of my ‘inner voices’:
    1. I am not ready
    2. I’m need to first research all the options and then choose the perfect solution
    3. Someone’s already done that idea and I don’t want to merely do ‘my version’
    4. It takes too much time to edit, polish and publish videos
    5. There’s probably no R.O.I. on my videos
    … and blah, blah, blah.

    While I do feel it’s important to just roll up the sleeves and get into it, I understand what delays many people.

    Nevertheless, I’m going to recommit and have two videos done by next weekend.
    So there.

    … and thanks for the nudge!

    • Thanks for your response David! And you are absolutely not alone with those inner voices of yours:)
      Here’s my take:
      1. No you’re not perfectly ready. I’m not perfectly ready. No one, not even A-list celebrities are perfectly ready. But we’re all ready enough. If you can speak in person, you can speak on camera!
      2. When you find the perfect solution, let us know! In the mean time, choose “a” solution.
      3. Guess what? Unless you’re curing cancer, you’re not reinventing the wheel. BUT there is only one YOU so ‘your version’ will be original!
      4. Indeed, videos- especially editing- take a LOT of time. You can start simply by talking directly to camera and not editing or adding other footage. Also- planning your videos out ahead of time will save you hours in post-production.
      5. Well, there’s definitely no R.O.I. on videos you don’t make:)

      … How did those two videos go? Happy to nudge!


  2. Tanya McGill Freeman says:

    Really excellent post, thank you! I just LOVE the bigest take-away (at least for me) which is that really catering to your audience by truly knowing your audience is key. It’s working from the inside-out to ensure maximum effectiveness. Thanks again!

    • Thanks Tanya! Yes- without an audience there really is no story! Networks cater to specific audiences- so should our web videos:)