Sizzle Reels – What Speakers Need to Know

One of the many reasons I love being the marketing chair for CAPS (Canadian Association of Professional Speakers) Toronto, is access to the many questions speakers ask. These questions make great blog material! Today there was a question posed about sizzle reels. Now if you followed my speaker website posts, you know that I always say that good video is a necessity for a speaker site – but what constitutes a great speaker sizzle reel? What are the elements you need and how do you make yours stand out? Here’s my take on it.

Before you Start

First of all, there is a saying in the marketing industry that usually applies to branding and copy – but applies equally well to video: “crap in – crap out”. What I mean by that is you must have great quality film to start with. No matter how well your sizzle reel is edited, no matter how incredible your content, if the camera is jumping, your audio is poor, or you are out of focus, the video looks bad. If you do not have good quality footage to start with, don’t invest the money in a reel just yet. Get better quality stuff and then begin your process.

Never forget your audience. You MUST keep your brand and your target audience in mind when you shoot and assemble your video. The way you show up on stage is the way your reel should represent you. If you are a ‘casual, laid back’ speaker but you get dressed up in a suit and tie for your reel, your audience is going to get the wrong idea. If your talks are fast paced, energetic experiences – show that. But if you are more of a technical, content rich speaker who does not stand on a chair pretending you are skiing during your talk, don’t do it in your sizzle reel.  (p.s. – do you know which speaker I am referring to in that scenario – shout him out in the comments if you do)
Also remember that often meeting planners think differently than corporate clients. They have even less time so what they want to see might be different than what an executive wants. Never forget who is hiring you and give them what they want to market to them directly.

Everything costs, but you get to choose the currency. The two most often used currencies are time and money. If you have technical abilities and are great with software, then yes, there is no reason you cannot invest the time yourself to edit this together. There are some great editing tools on the market, and I have seen a few iPhone speaker reel videos people are creating and they are spectacular. If you do not have the time, or the talent – then video is a wise place to spend your money. Invest in a professional videographer who has experience in creating sizzle reels for speakers. Ask to see their work first. Speak to their previous clients. Do your homework and choose someone whose customer service skills match their quality because this is not going to be cheap. Expect to pay between $500 – $1000 depending on what your requirements are.

Make sure you own the rights to everything you use. If you include audience shots, have you had the audience sign a waiver before you filmed the show? Don’t forget to get media releases for testimonials as well. Did your videographer purchase the rights to the photos he may include? Are you allowed to use that media clip? Check everything ahead of time to avoid being told “sorry, you can’t use that” after you have already made the investment.

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