How to Create Bad Thought Leadership Videos in 7 Missteps

To make good thought leadership videos, you need to know what bad looks like first. Here’s the proven 7-step formula for creating bad video content.

Thought leadership is wildly different now. Written content isn’t as effective as it once was.

The biggest disruption to thought leadership content? AI has infiltrated content marketing and those using AI tools irresponsibly are causing generic content to flood the Internet.

Video is the only way to emerge from the Sea of Sameness—as we like to say at Superneat. In other words, video is your chance to differentiate by helping your thought leaders and your brand stand out.

Another thing that’s affecting thought leadership content? The people have spoken, and they want video. You know this to be true when you share a video on social that gets a ton of engagement or when you embed a video in a blog post that increases time on page.

While it’s great that thought leadership content is evolving and becoming more video-focused, there’s one teeny-tiny problem: A lot of thought leaders are flailing on camera.

Why? Mainly, because they’re treating thought leadership videos like one of the following:

  • A blog.
  • A webinar.
  • A presentation.
  • An audio-only podcast.
  • A video call.

Thought leadership videos are none of these things. They’re a different beast. If you haven’t recognized that yet, then you’re probably not producing thought leadership videos at the high level that you could be.

The Proven 7-Step Formula for Bad Thought Leadership Videos

Shall we take a look at what bad looks like? I know it’s not fun, but I promise it will help you make better thought leadership videos.

1. Create a generic script with AI.

The big problem with using AI tools for thought leadership scripts is so obvious that I hesitate to even say it. But, in case you’ve been drinking way too much AI Kool-Aid, you need an intervention…

AI can’t think.

While I’m at it…

AI isn’t fun or funny. AI isn’t authentic or empathetic. AI isn’t human.

Thought leadership content is all about sharing experience and expertise. You don’t want to regurgitate old ideas, you want to contribute new ideas. Using AI for your script will leave you with generic content instead of original thought.

Do you want to sound like everyone else? Do you want to say the exact same thing that your competitors are saying? That is the big danger of using AI to co-produce your video content, and frankly, co-produce any content.

Thought leadership content is also about relating to other human beings—their hopes and dreams and their trials and tribulations. With AI handling your scriptwriting, the qualities we cherish in human-to-human interactions will be absent from your videos so they won’t have the intended effect of being conversational and relatable.

2. Schedule your video shoot in between 500+ things.

Your schedule is jammed up, but you’ve got to squeeze in your thought leadership video recordings.

You see a window of opportunity on Tuesday afternoon between back-to-back meetings. You should probably use that time to eat lunch, but you’ll quickly record a video instead. Your stomach can wait!

But when you start shooting your thought leadership video, it all goes to hell. Your energy levels are at an all-time low and you start to feel like a fraud. You keep doing take after take and none of them feel strong. Your window of opportunity is closing because your next meeting is coming up. You rush through the video to get the damn thing done. And after all that, your video sucks.

Don’t torture yourself like this, because “tortured soul” isn’t the vibe you want in your thought leadership video. Block out a generous chunk of time when you’re sharp and fresh, and batch-produce multiple videos when you’re in your laser-focused content creation mode.

video topic cheat sheet

3. Power through, even when you look and feel like crap.

You didn’t sleep great last night. You’re aaaaaaaalmost over that cold. You’ve got a massive zit. You’re a wee bit hungover. Oh, well. Let’s bust these thought leadership videos out anyway.

I’m gonna stop you right there. The camera doesn’t lie, so you should only record if you look and feel your best. No amount of makeup, lighting, or AI will fix you. Even the visual pick-me-ups you could do in post-production won’t change your voice or your eyes, which are always a dead giveaway when you’re struggling.

Give yourself permission to reschedule your thought leadership shoot for another time.

The whole reason you’re investing in thought leadership videos is to do good things for your business. If you look and feel like crap, your videos will look and feel like crap. You might think that by powering through, you’re pulling it off. But your video content will suffer if you’re suffering.

4. Do everything yourself.

It’s never been easier to shoot thought leadership videos, whether you’re using a pro cam, smartphone, or webcam. But, this “ease-of-use” benefit comes at a cost. If no one is there to monitor your video shoot, all sorts of things can go wrong, like:

  • Bad framing, lighting, and/or audio.
  • Bad takes that you thought were on point.
  • Bad presence, like being too stiff or not being energetic.

As someone who has been on both sides of the camera for thought leadership videos, I can tell you that having someone else there (especially a video marketing expert or two) makes a huge difference in your content delivery.

Your only job should be to deliver great content on camera. When making films, the lead actor doesn’t direct themself and produce the entire thing. And, neither should you.

5. Just wing it.

If you’re dedicated to creating thought leadership content, you’re an expert who gets comfy with the subject matter. Come on, you talk to customers all day about this stuff. You’ve given this same presentation to big crowds a bunch of times. Just wing it…you’ll be fine.

This goes back to what I said earlier in the intro. You’re treating your thought leadership videos like other types of content or situations.

In the scenarios I just mentioned—customer calls or live presentations—you have the luxury of human interaction. On camera, you won’t. You have to pretend someone is there when you’re staring into the dark abyss of the camera lens. And, what usually happens is your mind goes blank and you fumble through the video.

If you’re going the scripted route and reading a teleprompter, do a dry run to make sure it sounds natural. The danger with scripts is that they usually read better than they sound. If you prefer unscripted, you’ll need talking points—and again, you should do a dry run to make sure you’re articulating your thoughts clearly.

6. Avoid looking at the camera.

Not looking at the camera is an innocent mistake that thought leaders make all the time.

The challenge here is most people don’t realize they’re doing this during the shoot because they’re only focused on getting through the content. But they also may not notice it afterward when the video is edited because it’s subtle. And, let’s face it, most people don’t want to look at themselves on video so they don’t analyze every moment to notice if or where their eyes are focused.

So, let’s get to the root cause to help you improve. There could be a variety of reasons why you’re not looking at the camera:

  • You’re reading a script, and the teleprompter isn’t in the right position.
  • You’re looking at talking points in a random place (i.e. paper on your desk, laptop just off to the right, on a screen in front of you but lower than the camera).
  • You’re squeamish about looking into the dark abyss of the camera lens because it’s awkward.

If you’re doing any of the above, you aren’t addressing the camera so you won’t come across confidently in your thought leadership videos. You’ve got to get the angle right if you’re referencing scripts or notes, and you’ve got to look straight into the “dark abyss of the camera lens” as if you’re talking to a friend.

7. Act strange.

Being in front of the camera is strange, so the tendency is to act strange. You have to fight this when you’re making thought leadership videos or it will be even more awkward for the people who eventually watch you in these videos. The best way to fight the good fight is to understand what your version of “acting strange” is.

If you can stomach it, watch your videos to study your weird on-camera habits and work on correcting them. If you can’t handle watching yourself, produce thought leadership videos with a video marketing agency where a team is there to direct you and help you improve your on-camera presence.

From what I’ve seen while working with many thought leaders, I’d say the one thing that looks strangest of all is not overacting enough. On camera, you need to pep up the personality and pump up the volume. Try working in some gestures like you would in a real-world conversation and speak up so you sound confident.

Learn What Right Looks Like With Thought Leadership Videos

You can make incremental improvements with your thought leadership videos by studying yourself on camera. But, this isn’t for everyone and you can make more dramatic improvements by working with a video marketing team.

Maybe you try this for a short time, then go on your own. Or, maybe the process and output are so much better that you continue working with a video marketing team for the long haul. Either way, you’ll learn what right looks like and make your thought leadership videos 10x better.

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