How long should my video be?

 

 

If you’re planning on creating a video for your business, one question you’ll come up against sooner or later is, “How long should my video be?”

It’s a tricky question, because the simple (but not especially useful) answer is, “How long is a piece of string?” Except that’s not quite true. There are some guidelines that will help you at least narrow it down.


What’s your purpose?

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The first thing to think about is what the purpose of your video is. If you’re Steven Spielberg and your goal is entertaining people with top quality storytelling, you’ve probably got a good couple of hours to play with. But if you’re creating an ad that will be force played at the beginning of a YouTube video, you’ve got at best five seconds to hook people before they click away.

For general communication purposes, the organisers of the phenomenally popular TED talks concluded that no matter who the speaker is or what subject they’re talking about, 18 minutes is the ideal length for keeping people’s attention before they tune out. And given that their videos get many millions of views, they’re probably good people to listen to.

 

Ask your audience

 

Of course, there’s no reason why you should have to guess. You could simply ask your target audience.

Vlogging is an increasingly popular way of creating video content cheaply and simply. You don’t need much more than a smartphone camera and a quiet spot (although there are a few bits of kit that will help improve the quality, like a microphone and a tripod to help you keep the camera steady).

Because you’re likely to be vlogging fairly regularly, it’s worth investing some time in finding out what kind of length works best for the people you actually want to watch your videos. A simple SurveyMonkey survey can help you find out what they’re already watching and what topics they’re interested too, giving you some incredibly useful data to work with.

 

Shorter is usually better

If in doubt, always go shorter rather than longer. No matter who your target audience is, they’re either time poor, or they have many different options to choose from when it comes to how they fill their time.

We work on a lot of whiteboard animations for our clients, who usually want them as explainers, promos, or to catch people’s attention, for example at a trade exhibition. In these circumstances, we usually find that keeping things under two minutes ensures that the finished animation is fresh and snappy and engaging.

 

“But I have so much I want to say!” - this is something we hear a lot.

It can be tricky to distill your message down, but you’ll find that the process of doing so will really force you to think carefully about what exactly it is you’re trying to say, what your audience needs to hear, and then strip out anything that’s unnecessary. A good scriptwriter can be a huge help at this stage.

Whatever the case, there is one common factor that applies to all videos, from the business promo to the Oscar winning blockbuster: you’ve got to make the beginning count. Whether it’s with stunning visuals, an intriguing story, or a clever sales hook, those first few seconds will determine how many people stick with your video until the end.

If you need anything from a powerful animation to transform your sales pitch to a professional intro graphic that will give your vlog a more polished look, get in touch and find out more about how the Hullo team can help your videos stand out from the crowd.

 
Suzi Hull