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6 Tips for Making School Videos More Professional

by Ellen Ullman, on Feb 6, 2024 11:21:18 AM

“Schools have great stories to tell, but we get busy doing other things and storytelling goes on the back burner,” says Jake Sturgis, APR, founder and CEO of Captivate Media, a motion graphics and video production company that empowers school districts to get results. “But if you aren’t telling your story, someone else is—and probably not in the way you want it told.”

With 20 years of experience in education and strategic storytelling, Sturgis knows how to  share the everyday miracles taking place in classrooms. He knows how to use video as a lens through the brick walls and help people draw the conclusions you want them to draw.

“Sharing videos is not just good for your community,” he says, “but good for recruiting and retaining students, teachers, and staff. Sometimes video can be the differentiating factor when a potential employee is evaluating your district. Your values, what you stand for, what’s important—all of that can come through in video.”

Here are six helpful tips for creating high-impact videos that communicate your messages for a positive impact.

  1. Show, Don’t Tell
    As Sturgis says, there are lots of talking-head videos out there that are missing the mark. “When we record someone with a webcam telling us something, we miss out. Video is emotional. The power is connecting the heart and the mind.”

    Video is a great way to share the relationships being built and the care that teachers have for students, says Sturgis. “Show the magic that’s naturally happening every day, such as a teacher kneeling down and helping a student with a math problem.”

  2. Use Stories Strategically
    If you’re launching a new STEM school, talk about STEM in your videos. Find the key messages, know your audience, and create content that reaches your audience versus trying to make something go viral. Find ways to further your district’s mission and vision. Remember: Parents have choices of where to send their kids to school.   

  3. Start Small
    Sturgis recommends beginning with 10- or 15-second videos to use for Reels or Stories on social media. “Reels and Stories are a great place to experiment. The shelf life is 24 hours so you can keep an eye on metrics and see what’s getting reactions and engagement and what isn’t.” Hone your skills as you gain expertise and confidence. Take feedback and build up to the 90- or 120-second school or program overviews.

  4. Know Your Phone’s Limits
    People forget that your camera is your microphone. “Use your feet to get closer—not the zoom. Your microphone doesn’t zoom in when you zoom with their camera,” says Sturgis. Be next to the keyboard if someone is typing and get close to people who are speaking. In general, you want some background noise but not too many distractions that pull people away from the message.

    Two important items Sturgis recommends buying are a  good wireless Bluetooth microphone ($100-$200) and a tripod, monopod, or camera stabilizer (less than $100).

  5. Vary Your Clips
    “The three different types of clips are wide, medium, and closeup,” says Sturgis, “and it’s best to incorporate all three when you can. If you use all wide clips, people can’t see faces and make an emotional connection. If you use all closeup clips, the audience doesn’t see the bigger picture or context.”

  6. Make Lighting Your Friend and Other General Tips
    If you are recording someone, you want to position them in front of a window for a natural light that looks great.

    If you’re filming a class and there are children without photo release forms, seat them at the same table or part of the room so you don’t accidentally film them.

Share Your Work
Now that you know some ways to create compelling videos, you’ll  want to share them with your parents and greater community. Make sure your communication platform allows you to share rich media including video. We recommend Bloomz, of course! 🙂

Topics:Parental EngagementVideoDistrict Communication