This one blog post is going to save you hours of work and a lot of frustration.
It’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way — again and again.
Just when I think it sunk in for good, another example or aspect of it whacks me over the head.
This time, it started with a webcam.
Fade in: A cozy home office in Colorado Springs. Jessica angrily throws her webcam at the wall.
Okay, I didn’t really throw my webcam at the wall. But I wanted to.
Creating videos has always been a grueling process for me, but with the current digital landscape, it’s absolutely necessary.
There are several short videos in my Content Chemistry: Tech Track program. They took me dozens of hours to record and edit. No joke.
I’m in the middle of revamping my client onboarding process for Horizon Peak Consulting, which involves creating welcome videos — and yup, I’ve been struggling with those, too.
As soon as I look at the camera, my brain goes blank. I forget what I’m supposed to be talking about.
I recorded take after take, and spent hours and hours editing the clips, and at the end of last week, I still didn’t have 5 usable minutes of video.
Are you picking up on what I might have been doing wrong?
I Thought Speaking Off-the-Cuff Would Result in More Authentic Video Content — and I Was WRONG
I know reading from a script makes a person come across stiff and unnatural on video. It’s even worse when viewers can see your eyes moving back and forth.
So I noted a few talking points, then went straight to recording the videos.
After hours of frustration, however, I gave up.
I pulled up a blank Word doc and started writing a stinkin’ script.
The words flowed easily. My thoughts came together on paper, and a natural flow emerged for the welcome video content. I also noticed there was information I was trying to cram into the video that I shouldn’t have.
At the end of writing the spit-draft of my script, I saw exactly why I struggled to remember what I was saying when the camera began recording:
My thoughts hadn’t been organized properly.
My brain processes information differently through the process of writing than it does when I talk something through.
And you know what? That’s pretty normal.
The Brain and the Written Word
I’ve developed a fascination with neuroscience over the last few years. What I’ve discovered about how the brain works has helped me in my own day-to-day life more than I can say.
Among many other benefits, the act of writing stores information in a more readily-accessible part of the memory center of the brain.
When your brain is chewing on a complex problem, writing can help you work through it and come up with a solution.
You remember things better long-term when you write them down, too. (This is why I take copious notes when I read a book and want to remember the most important concepts.)
No matter what medium you are trying to communicate in, writing first can help you organize your thoughts, identify issues and see new possibilities.
Yet so often we go straight to creating.
Recording the video.
Writing the blog post.
Talking on the podcast.
I went straight to video without writing out my thoughts first, which upon reflection is crazy!
In my role as content writer, I would NEVER think that the first words I put on a page are worthy of sending to my clients as even a first draft. My writing process for client projects involves research, outlining, and many exploratory fits and starts until it starts coming together as a draft.
Writing can help you figure out what you want to say.
When I dug deeper into this subject in preparation for writing this blog post, I discovered something interesting:
Scientists and psychologists are still trying to figure out how the brain processes the written word.
There were no articles with simplified explanations for how the human brain processes text (like there were for how the brain processes images), because it’s a very complex subject that is not 100% understood yet.
Neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists are studying it — mostly independent of one another, apparently — but the answers are still forming.
There are a lot of factors at play, including genetics, brain white-matter tract structure, functional organization of language, and cultural organization of writing systems.
Scientific Explanation or No, the Written Word Is a Powerful Thing. Here’s How to Wield It for Better Content in ANY Medium:
What I know from experience is that the power of the written word is undeniable.
It helps us understand complex subjects …
Communicate across great distances and generations …
Capture moments …
When I was a kid, I thought there was magic in written words.
As an adult, I still believe that’s true … but maybe the magic is a little different than I first imagined.
I’ve done enough executive ghostwriting to see that helping a C-suite exec put his thoughts into a written article can do more for his authority than the fanciest videography.
I’ve written enough marketing content to see that complex offerings are more easily understood — and even seen as more desirable — when text (copy/content) is forefront and visuals are simply supportive.
You have immense power in your fingertips!
Before you start writing that e-book, write down your thoughts and ideas around the subject. You’ll likely discover a natural flow for the sub-topics you want to cover.
Before you come up with your next blog topic, open up a blank doc and start writing about what you think your audience is struggling with right now, and how you might be able to help them.
Before you interview that guest on your podcast, start writing notes about what you might want to cover, and let it form an initial (and totally flexible) series of questions.
Before that sales call with a prospective client, write out what value you know you will bring to the table if they should choose to work with you.
Don’t just sit there and think about what you want to say. Put your fingers on the keyboard or your pen to paper and let your thoughts and ideas fly across the page.
It’ll engage your brain in a totally different way, and make whatever you create so much better.
Now, I’m off to buy a new webcam. (Okay. Maybe I did throw it at the wall.)
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