Isn’t it the best feeling when your team or company is behind a really strong marketing video? Maybe it has your audience reaching for the tissue, or laughing out loud, or learning things that are going to change how they live or do business.

Sometimes, though, at the start or during a video project it can feel like a challenge to make sure your video comes off as well as you hoped. You could just sit back, hope for the best, and look for the heaviest desk to hide under in case the project goes into the crapper. Or, you can try giving constructive feedback that will help make your project shine.

How do you give feedback to a video agency or in-house team without stepping on toes? How do you talk about what is working or not if you aren’t a video expert yourself?

Here are a few tips to help you navigate your way through a video project, from inception to through to completed awesomeness.

Provide clear details/expectations/a brief before starting

It’s pretty hard to give useful feedback if you haven’t agreed upon anything to begin with. Before you start producing a creative project, you need to provide the video team of a clear outline on what you’re looking for: What are the goals of the video? What is the message? What actions are you trying to evoke? At what level of the funnel is this video targeted for? Who is the audience? How will it be shared and where will the video live? How will it interact with supporting or other marketing content? What type of video are you looking for? Talking head? Animation? Do you want actors, or simply need statistics and text to appear on screen?

The clearer you are on what you expect from the project, the more likely it will be that the final product is in line with what you want. And when these expectations are set out from the start, feedback and revisions are quicker and easier. Just remember that it’s unlikely you’ll get a Hollywood blockbuster, even from the best of the best video teams – B2B (and even B2C marketing) just can’t always be blow-your-socks-off exciting. You want to create the best content possible, but hold on to realistic expectations.

Agree upon deadlines and the number of revisions permitted

As you and the video team plan the video together, don’t forget to keep deadlines in mind. This will keep a project on track, but you can also apply deadlines to revisions themselves. Video teams, whether in-house or an agency, are typically very busy. They need to schedule and manage a number of projects at once, so often don’t have the time or resources to reshoot the same video a thousand times.

Give feedback at different stages of the video production in a timely manner so the next stage of the project isn’t delayed. Video teams may provide a limit on the number of revisions you can request, to help keep a project on track and on time. Also keep in mind that submitting a major revision to a project two days before the final video is to be released won’t do you, the team, or your project any favours, and will only cause grumbles or increased fees.

Communicate throughout every stage of the project

You know how you can manage expectations, deadlines, and results throughout a video project? You know what I’m going to say: communication!

Every video team will have their own processes, but often they can look a little something like this: an outline of the video is presented, followed by a scripted, followed by a storyboard, and then followed by graphics or a video shoot. You can be included throughout the process to provide clarity or give feedback at each stage to help make sure that the final product is in line with what you were looking for, instead of being surprised with a final product that doesn’t do what you need it to.

If you have this opportunity to play a key role throughout, then take it (or make it): it keeps schedule and budget on track (so countless revisions aren’t made), and makes the whole process simpler, maybe even resulting in you working with the same video team for a future project.

Take a look at this video that we did in-house. It was the opening act during Space Camp, the Video Marketing Summit. It played after everyone took their seats, and welcomed them to the event. As it was being created, Blake, our Creative Director, looped me in when considering voiceover talent – we both wanted to make sure whoever read the script could portray the message and create the sense of inspiration that we were looking for, including tone, correct emphasis, pauses, and more. It took a few auditions to find the right talent that we felt confident moving forward with. It was an important part of the process, and it helped make sure the experience of the video was as powerful as other experiences of the event. (Don’t mind the big letterboxing – the video was designed for a massively long event venue screen)

Trust them (you chose them for a reason)

This may sound counter-intuitive to the above tip, but it really isn’t. It’s important to be on the same page, but some teams or agencies will want to create a project without asking your feedback on every single piece of it – imagine if someone presented you with a gasket or a bolt or a belt for a car, and asked you if you liked how the final vehicle was coming along. Sometimes the whole is much more powerful than the sum of the parts.

If this is how the process might work for your video production, hopefully you’ve come to this agreement before going ahead with the project to alleviate any difficulties. If a video team doesn’t want you on set or doesn’t want to change an actor’s wardrobe from blue to brown, just remember, if you are working with them, it’s because you trusted that they could do their job well.

This trust is also important to keep in mind even if you are able to give feedback at every stage: let your team provide feedback on your feedback: maybe the joke you want added into the script is only funny if you’re an employee of your company, but the audience won’t get it. Or maybe there’s a reason why a certain shot needs to be from that angle. Let them show you why you trusted them in the first place.

For example, when the Space Camp introduction video was created, I questioned if a voiceover was the way to go, rather than just playing music with the words on screen. But Blake, with his expansive video expertise, knew that the experience of the video would be different on a computer screen (how I was seeing it) versus how the audience would see it when they walk into a bustling venue. The audience needed the voice to speak to them and draw their attention to the video, since it played in place of someone coming on stage to “open” the event. It worked well, and that’s just one of the many ways a video expert can provide expertise worth trusting.

Be fair about giving feedback

You might think you’re being fair by letting everyone on your team give their two cents on a video to the video team, but what you may be doing is, well, being annoying. Whoopsie.

So how do you avoid annoying the video team? A few things: Collect a master document of feedback from whoever is involved on your side. This way you can figure out which feedback makes the most sense, and delete any contradictory advice. No one wants to have to try to go up a chain of command to figure out if a logo should appear at the beginning or at the end of a video. Sort it out, decide who will have the final say with feedback, and then send it on over to the video team.

Think about specifics when providing feedback. Don’t just say “Hey, you know that guy that walks from left to right in the background of that one shot? Can he go from right to left?” There may be 3 people in the video who do that! Provide time stamps with your feedback so the video team can quickly identify what you’re referring to.

If you don’t like something (or if you do!) tell the team why. Provide specifics on how a video is or isn’t meeting the project’s goals, while keeping subjective opinions to a minimum; it will only help to keep the final product strong and impactful.

There you have it. Video projects can be tons of fun and the end results are amazing to watch. If you communicate constructively throughout, you’ll be sure to get a final product that will impress (and convert!) audiences. Do you have advice on how to provide feedback throughout a video project? Let us know!

Emily Ross