You need to ensure that people in your video come across as authentic - or your audience will tune out.
It’s a running joke in the production world that if something goes wrong on set, we’ll fix it in post. In other words, we can use editing or VFX magic to get rid of that plastic bag that blew behind a person’s head, or cut that take when your talent flubbed. But there’s one thing we can never fix in post, and that’s authenticity. If it wasn’t captured on the day, it won’t be in the final video.
When creating a video featuring real people, authenticity comes from letting them be themselves. It’s key in testimonials, recruiting videos, or CEO interviews. But so many brands make decisions that actively work against authenticity.
Factors that work against authenticity:
On this episode of Death to the Corporate Video, Guy and Hope discuss why authenticity is key in videos featuring real people, and how to make sure you capture it.
You can listen to the episode using the player embedded above, or you can read a full transcript below.
Guy Bauer: Authenticity is like the drug they give organ transplant recipients so that the body doesn't reject it. Authenticity is the permission for your audience to listen to this. It's what their brain needs in order to not reject this as BS.
Hope Morley: Hello and welcome to Death to the Corporate Video, a podcast with tools and advice for how to make B2B videos your prospects actually want to watch. I'm Hope Morley.
Guy Bauer: I'm Guy Bauer.
Hope Morley: Sometimes when we're planning out our podcast episodes, we just have pure inspiration based on an experience that we're having with a client. So we really wanted to talk about something that's very, very basic in video marketing and video advertising, but so many people get it wrong, especially in the realm of what we call quote, unquote, corporate video. And that is authenticity.
Guy Bauer: You know, authenticity is, I mean, it's so early 2000 teens or whatever,
Hope Morley: It's not the cool buzzword right now. You know, it's not empathy.
Guy Bauer: Yeah, right. It's an older word, but authenticity can mean so many things. Like there's so many, like misinterpretations of authenticity. What we're trying to get at by authenticity is the feeling that this thing, this video is unaffected by a corporate entity, meaning that what you're watching is as close to the truth as possible, or as close to a 60 Minutes episode as possible. That's what we mean by authenticity. We don't mean journaling while you do a pour over coffee montage. That's not, I mean, I guess that's authentic. I don't know.
Hope Morley: I mean, that's how some people start their day.
Guy Bauer: Yeah, that was like the authentic montages, someone riding a bike and pour over coffee. So, and that's, what are we saying about authenticity, Hope?
Hope Morley: So what we're saying is that authenticity is a key piece of what you need to have baked into your videos from the get-go from production, because it is the one thing that we cannot add in later. You can't add it in post, you know, it's a joke of, you've been in the ad video world at all that, you know, like, oh, we'll fix it in post. We'll fix it in post. The one thing that you can never fix in editing is adding back in or adding in some sort of authenticity that was not captured on the production day.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. And I guess the subset of videos we're talking about are anything that's interview based. Obviously if it's scripted based, you bake authenticity into the script, but I think where we're talking about today's episode is focused on if you are making unscripted whether that's a mini documentary or interviews or -
Hope Morley: culture videos, recruiting videos. A lot of social media content that companies are putting out that you're featuring real people.
Guy Bauer: Correct. It's anything with a real person. Authenticity is, I mean, we can do anything in VR, in post, in visual effects. I still can't believe some of the things that our visual effects artist can do. They can change the sky color. They can take out garbage from the street. It's crazy. We can manipulate so many things, but we can not infuse the feeling that what this person is saying is natural and real.
We cannot infuse that. No matter how much we edit and actually the more we edit, the more inauthentic, the whole thing feels. And that's another side to this whole thing is if you over edit in the name of, well, we don't want ums and ahs and all that. You're actually stripping out a lot of how people naturally communicate.
When you watch a 60 Minutes report, they don't edit out all the ums and ahs. They edit out the egregious ones, but they're not switching the angles like front angle, side angle, front angle. So like in order to, to get rid of the ums and ahs -
Hope Morley: Well, that's distracting a and we all know that that means it's a cut. It takes you out of it. So we might, you might not know how to edit a two camera interview as someone who's watching a video, but when you're watching an interview with someone and you can tell that they keep switching the camera angle over and over again, even if you don't really know what that means, like you can tell that there's human hands on that.
And that's what brings through that inauthentic feeling.
Guy Bauer: Right. What I'd like to do is take a step back actually, and talk to -
Hope Morley: Can we talk about why this even matters?
Guy Bauer: Yeah. Right. Like, well, let's take a step further. Why are you making this video? Okay. So we are making, let's say we're making a culture video. Okay. We're making a culture video. Why? So that our recruiting efforts go better. There's a war for talent and we need people that want to work here.
So we are making a video to get people to want to work here. And we're going to interview people about what it's like working here. Right? Now if we didn't make a video, what would you do instead?
What's like the best next best thing. If there wasn't video, you would meet in person, right? Like that's what video is substituting for video is the next best thing to meeting in person.
That's what your viewer is trying to get out of this. They're trying to get out of it. What it really is like working at your company and what most companies will do is try to make it as good-looking and appetizing to work there as possible. So what they'll do is highly edit people.
Or make people remember, or like, say something pre-baked like “Here we're focused on family, culture and having a good time with our representatives,” whatever, like something that no one would ever say. They would just say like, “yeah, it's fun to work here, I don't know.” So that what they do is they in order to present the best foot forward, they over edit.
And then also over, they like script it. They try to tell people what to say, but what they're not understanding is that the person on the other end is interpreting the subtext of that. And the subtext is this is not genuine. This is not authentic. So everything you see and hear in this video has been faked.
But the overall vibe is that well, you know, they're just being nice and they're just saying it, and it's a load of BS. When, you're trying to put your best foot forward. It's an element that a lot of times brands forget about but without authenticity, the message is voided.
Hope Morley: Right, just to clarify a point there. So when you say that brands want to put their best foot forward, what you're getting at is that brands, especially large enterprises, but small ones too, we see this across the board. They think that everything has to be incredibly polished and put together and scripted and you can't have anyone saying anything that's off book because they have this kind of backwards, idea in their mind that is what makes their company look best.
That letting people be themselves is somehow allowing like a bit of just unpolished and unnaturalness that they don't want because they want to have control over the narrative, but actually letting those elements in is what appeals to the viewer. And that's what you really need to focus on.
It's not like what appeals to you as the brand police. It's like what is going to appeal to the person who's watching this video and who we're trying to get a message across to.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. And to quote my favorite movie review view show Red Letter Media is you may not notice, but your brain does. So your audience will never point to, well, we really love the authenticity of it. They'll never point to it.
Hope Morley: Or they'll, or the opposite is true either. They won't be like, Hm. Those people sounded a little over edited. So I, I'm not sure I like this company.
Guy Bauer: Right. They won't know it, but their brain will. It's very subliminal and that's right.
That's why you get certain hunches about people. Isn't it weird. Usually I get negative hunches about people when everything is too smiley. They're too perfect. They're like, I always make this joke, like, my wife's parents are so nice. You know, I'm still like, what are you after?
Hope Morley: But they're really just Midwestern.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. They're really just really nice people that are very loving and I'm like, what's the catch?
Why have we done that? Because there's a defense mechanism that society has that we don't want to be swindled and usually people that are swindling you, everything is perfect. Smiling. There's nothing wrong. Come on, come on down to what was the Fyre Fest? Yeah, everything's perfect.
You know, and so we have generated this like survival instinct to be wary of people who don't show their cards. I enjoy people in life who not everything is perfect. I enjoyed speaking to people in my normal life where I say what's up. They're like, Ugh, man, not much not, you know, like things aren't that great.
Like that's actually like more believable that they're doing that now. I'm not saying like, you have to say things, aren't that great.
Hope Morley: Our company is just fine.
Guy Bauer: It's okay.
Hope Morley: We have acceptable benefits.
Guy Bauer: A, why do you have a narrator that still sounds like that in 2021, but we're not saying that we're saying is, is embrace people's natural way of talking. Embrace that they don't use your full brand name, that they use the abbreviation. What does it matter? That's how real people talk. And so what you want to do is balance the two. A lot of people edit to a transcript.
What I mean by that is they look at their recruiting video or culture video as a set of words and not as an entire piece. So they'll look at it and they'll say, yes, these words are great. Strip out any ums and ahs or anything that gets in the way of these exact words. And what they've done though, is the delivery method, the actual video, is a complete weird mess of just crazy edits and cutoff statements in the middle where you can tell the person was just taking a breath and had another thing. Like you have to balance your messaging with authenticity because authenticity is like the key code to even get into the brain of your prospect.
The second the authenticity, like blockchain or key is broken, you are rejected from the brain. So you have to remain authentic or else there is no opening for your message. Your message will be rejected. Like an organ or like, you know, a jury kind of rejects and throws away the testimony of someone that's been proven to be not truthful.
Hope Morley: What, what can a brand do? When they are making a video that features real people to make sure that they're getting through getting this authenticity to come through in the final product?
Guy Bauer: Don't give people scripts. Don't make people say stuff that they would normally not say, don't make people speak in brand, you know, like all your brand vernacular, you know, like I know there's brands where you have to say like, so and so brand paint or something, you know, like you say it right. But no one says that. They use like the one word abbreviation on it. So don't meet people speak proper. Don't make people say things they would normally not say, or phrases that are unnatural.
And the main thing is be 60 Minutes. Don't be a brand. You have to be in the realm of truth. 60 Minutes is America's longest running news magazine. And the reason they've done that is because they haven't let us down. You have to have your journalism hat on and not your brand hat. And what you have to do as a brand person, as a marketer, is try your best to do your best at getting that marketing message over, but never sacrifice authenticity. So you asked practical things, don't make people memorize.
Also before interviews. I see this mistake so many times people are like, okay, always answer your question in the form of a, like, repeat the question back as an answer. So if we ask you, what is your favorite color? You must start every answer with my favorite color is blue. Do not look into the camera. Here's your bottle of water.
Sit down over there and move your shoulder up and then move it back. Now. Sit forward in the thing. Not that too forward. Now you look a little scared. You look sweaty now. So we're going to wipe you down, like. All these things that are like don't fuck up. And what does the person do? They proceed to just like.
Hope Morley: Get in their head and be nervous and freaked out and completely lose any confidence that they had in themself.
Guy Bauer: Right. And then they're like, what they do is they're almost like a hostage. What they'll do is they'll tell you what you want to hear in order for the pain to stop.
And the pain is you. The pain is you telling them to be perfect and telling them that they're, they, they spoke too fast in that way. And they're not repeating the question and listen, uh, Jim, no, one's going to hear the question. So you got to say it like stop.
Hope Morley: That that was really great. But can you say it again, but this time, make sure you say the full brand name of all of our products.
Guy Bauer: You'll get exactly what you want them to say. But again, the delivery method will be inauthentic and the body will reject it. The brain will reject it. It's just like BS. Well, this is BS. So I have to throw this away. Your prospects and people aren't, you know, they're, they're not actively saying it.
There's just this funky feeling. Their brain, you know, they don't know it, but their brain does. And there's just some kind of uncanniness and they're like, ah, it was all weird. That's why so many brands in the recruiting films get funny, you know, they get quirky and they, they usually script things so that they avoid that interviewing people dilemma, because if you script things, now you can infuse all the authenticity in the words. So that is an alternative solution. So if you know that you're going to want to really micromanage that copy, then don't even let people interview, just do a script, honestly.
Hope Morley: Well, yeah, because if you're not going to let people be themselves, what's the point of featuring them in the first place.
Guy Bauer: That's really where this conversation should have started. Take a step back and ask, well, why are you doing interviews? Why do we interview people? We interview people so that they put it in their own words so that it seems real and believable. That's the only reason why you would interview. You can't see it right now. I'm like making a bunch of facial gestures, uh, like isn't this so obvious. Yeah, right. Like why would you even interview people if you're not going to let them talk?
Hope Morley: No. And then along with that, the other kind of practical pieces to understand that when you're interviewing people and they're real, and they are not trained newscasters or trained actors, they have a lot of ums and ahs and filler words in what they say.
And it's impossible in a video to cut all those out. Any editor will do their best, but they're going to come through. When you're sending feedback to your agency and you're saying, you know, this person says, you know, a lot like, Hm, maybe somebody on this podcast like me, there's too many likes. There's too many ums and ahs. Can we cut them out?
It becomes choppy. It becomes obvious you get all those camera angle cuts to cover up every single little snippet. And it's just not how people talk anymore. So again, it's hire an actor if you want someone without filler words.
Guy Bauer: Be okay with imperfections. If people weren't okay with imperfections, there would be never a reason to go see your favorite band live.
Hope Morley: Or you know, listen to a podcast.
Guy Bauer: Right? Yeah. I use the word, like totally. I hate listening to myself. Anyway, but yeah, like if you listen to any band's concert albums, it's filled with imperfections. If you wanted it perfect just listen to the album, but why do people still like going to concerts and listening to concert albums?
It's because there's truth in the imperfections. There's just something about it. There's that feeling that I'm part of this and it's very human. So don't worry about imperfections. Like who told us that we can't say um and ah who, I don't even know where that comes from.
Hope Morley: And who notices? That's the other thing. Your viewers don't actually probably notice.
Guy Bauer: I think about doing any impression of David Letterman. It's always like that.
Like so many people are famous or whatever is. Um, and ah, I don't like David Letterman less because he says um and ah.
Hope Morley: Yeah, nobody does. Filler words are so common that viewers just gloss over them or listeners. You just don't really hear it and process it. Unless someone is saying like literally every other word, and then it becomes distracting and that's an issue. But the only reason that you, as the person who are reviewing a video might be noticing it is a, because you're looking for imperfections because somebody sent you something and said, give us feedback.
And B, because it's either you or it's someone in your company, it's someone you know, and it might even come from a good place that you want to be presenting them in the best possible light. And if you think that they don't sound their best because they're saying um and ah constantly, you know, you might want to try to fix that.
But that's where, so even if it's coming from a good place, you're ending up in this place of inauthenticity.
Guy Bauer: Authenticity is like the drug, they give organ transplant recipients so that the body doesn't reject it. And that's what authenticity is. Authenticity is the permission for your audience to listen to this, it's what their brain needs in order to not reject this as, as BS. The other thing, you know, if you show me a magic trick, the first time I see that magic trick, I'm fooled.
I don't know how you did it, but if you watch a magic trick, 10 times in a row, and that's another thing that happens when you are in post. And the first time you see a video, you'll be like, great, looks cool. And the second time you see it, you're like, huh? I guess it's a little, you see the seams and then the 10th time you see it, it gets like existential.
It's almost like, oh my gosh, like food, I don't like the way they say food. And you start like, thinking about words like food and then, ah, uh, and like you just kind of like, see this person. You're like, whoa, edit all that out. And then you just like, it just disintegrates. You have to understand that the average person won't even see your thing one time! The average person will watch 48% of it. They are not noticing all those things. You've been watching a magic trick too many times. You're seeing all the seams.
So that's another thing is be aware of that, like that phenomenon, that like you're going to start seeing all those little things that most people won't.
Hope Morley: And the final thing that authenticity brings to your brain, like you're talking about to get your brain to accept it, is it ultimately leads people to a place of trust. It's like when people seem authentic, that's when you start to trust them. And if the point of this video that you're making is we've been talking about culture videos a lot. So you want people to say like, Hey, there's good people that work here. They seem trustworthy. I would like to be coworkers with them. Or if you're featuring an interview with your CEO or someone else who's talking about new products, anything, you know, the whole game is that you need your prospects or the people that you're trying to convince with this video.
You need them to trust you. That's the entire purpose of having this video. And authenticity is just that key factor that can lead to viewers trusting what they're seeing.
Guy Bauer: It's fundamental. It's, if we're talking about building an airplane, authenticity are the wings, like an airplane can't fly without the wings.
Same thing. Like you cannot get a message across without authenticity. If your authenticity meter is too low, your plane isn't it doesn't matter how many engines you put on that thing. It's just not taking off. It needs wings. So that's what authenticity is. It's like, it's not even table stakes.
It's like, I don't even know what it it's, it's a prerequisite to even take off.
Hope Morley: The key takeaways from this episode that we'd like listeners to carry away from this is to put a focus on authenticity in anything that you're doing when you're featuring real people. Just try to take your brand hat off for a minute, try to take your over analytical brain and turn it off for a minute and think about the person who's only watching it once and think about how trustworthy and how much authenticity and how genuine the people seem as they're speaking.
Guy Bauer: Take your brand hat off. Put your 60 Minutes hat on.
Hope Morley: And let people be people.
Guy Bauer: Let people be people. I mean, and now more than ever, everything's about humanity and empathy and yada yada uh, no, I mean, I believe in those things, but I mean, I totally dismissing them. Empathy. Yeah, It's hot right now. So now's your chance.
It's so fundamental. It's wings to an airplane.
Hope I have a question. Where can people learn more about us at Umault, a B2B video ad agency?
Hope Morley: Well Guy, I would recommend that people go to our website at Umault.Com. That's U M A U L t.com. You can also find us across all the social media channels at Umault. And if you want to reach out to us directly, you can email the show at hello at Umault.com.
Guy Bauer: Yes. Thanks, Hope.
Hope Morley: Thanks, Guy. And thanks to everyone for listening today.