About a decade ago, two of Jim Wacksman’s interests — video production and associations — merged to become the video production company Association Studios, which works exclusively with association clients.
It was fortuitous timing given that video has become a big part of daily life. In the U.S., 50 percent of online users watch online video each day.
Because so many people are drawn to the medium, it makes sense to use it in a conference setting. I asked Wacksman, the company’s producer and CEO, to share some ways to add video to a meeting or convention. Here are his ideas, based on his work with associations and his role as a video professional.
These videos build excitement about a conference and its location and are sent out online and posted on an organization’s website six months or so before the event. Although not a new idea, promo videos are now easier and less expensive to make because outstanding footage is available free from convention bureaus and conference resorts and hotels. “It used to be difficult for customers to get gorgeous footage of your meeting site; now it is a phone call away, and it is free,” said Wacksman.
Another inexpensive way to promote a convention is to ask a keynote speaker to do a quick “Hey, I can’t wait to speak to your group” video that can be sent out and posted a month or so before an event. These videos aren’t often professionally made, but amateur efforts can be even more compelling. Said Wacksman, “Sometimes these are shot with a cellphone camera and aren’t exactly professional. That isn’t a negative. It comes across as superauthentic and not an overproduced kind of thing.”
These videos reiterate a conference’s aim. For example, one of Wacksman’s clients does a conference where attendees can earn an enormous number of continuing education credits. There are no keynotes, no social events, just education sessions. To underscore the conference’s focus on education, Association Studios shoots 30-second videos of presenters, who talk briefly about their upcoming session. The association sends out the videos, about one a week, in the months before the conference.
“Build It and They Will Come” Videos
For conferences that have a public aspect and want to draw a crowd, Association Studios has done 15-second “What’s happening at the exhibit hall” videos. For a boat show, the association shot footage of boats being rolled onto the trade show floor. Videos are posted on social media several times a day in the couple of days before the show.
These videos are like souped-up PowerPoints. No more than 10 minutes long, and often shorter, they relay — quietly, without any audio other than perhaps some subtle music — conference-related information like the day’s schedule, updates on evening events, reminders to download the conference app, sponsor thank-yous and messages from sponsors, which are also a way to generate revenue, Wacksman said. The video can also recognize members. “This is just an ultraeasy way to shine some light on board members,” Wacksman said.
Shown right before a plenary session, these videos build interest and excitement about what’s to come. “The secret ingredient is the music — great music will create the entire tone,” said Wacksman. The videos could be styled as an MTV music video, or include clips from past conferences or sound bites from members. These videos typically introduce a keynote speaker or association official. “They typically end with a great voice saying, ‘Now, welcome to the stage … ,’” said Wacksman.
About 45 seconds long, these videos allow an organization to “toot its horn,” said Wacksman, and thank attendees and exhibitors. By emphasizing the event’s strengths — for example, “We attracted our largest attendance ever!” — the conference’s value is reiterated.