The Key to Making a Great Video Testimonial: Listening

By Mark Fenton

Creating a testimonial video is a collaborative endeavor that requires active and empathetic listening throughout: from the planning stages, through the interview, and especially in the editing room. We had the privilege to work with SVO Farmer Focus to tell the story of the Daugherty family, one of their generational family farm partners. Here’s how our approach of active and empathetic listening impacts each stage of production.

Connect Ahead of Time

We reached out to the Daugherty family well before the shoot to get a sense of their family dynamic, values, and conversational style to inform our approach. We could clearly see that the success of their farm was born out of their close-knit family relationships and care and respect for their animals. We learned that the video would need to include Jason, his sister Holly, and his father, Lyle. Because we learned ahead of time how essential their family dynamic was to their work, we were able to plan and capture some powerful moments of them talking together that are essential to the story.

Be Flexible

While we make sure to prepare thoroughly for a shoot, storytelling is a fundamentally fluid process that requires active listening and the ability to adjust a plan when we hear or notice something that could strengthen the story. While it is certainly easier to conduct an interview with a set script of talking points and not deviate, we know it is more important to give the interviewees control over their message and motivation. We listened carefully to Jason, Lyle, and Holly to let them tell us what was most important to their story.

For example, we hadn’t planned on including the moment above about the Daughertys’ personal buying habits, or the clip below about their love of animals, but these moments were essential to capturing the family’s values and personality to tell their true story.

Listen in the Editing Room

When listening emotionally and empathically, it becomes clear very quickly what matters to our interviewees. When we use this empathetic approach in editing—where we let the interview organically drive the timeline—the result is a more organic and heartfelt story. For example, we noticed in post-production that Jason’s energy level rose when talking about caring for the animals on the farm, and we were sure to make that a core part of the video.

Testimonial videos are effective brand storytelling tools and are very rewarding projects to produce. We love working on projects like this, not only because we have a great time meeting people and listening to their stories, but because the end result is a compelling and honest brand story that reflects what’s truly special about the brands we serve.

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