Dealing With Losing Subject Matter Experts

Posted January 11, 2021 in
Video Video
Good afternoon videographers,

I've been a bit of a ghost on this platform, but I'm hoping one of you or some of you would grant me your wisdom with a dilemma I am having.

I've been dealing with a heavy surge of losing subject matter experts before I even get them on camera. Most have stated they feel overwhelmed from simply reviewing the outlines I've sent them and bow out just before our scheduled time to film. It has been about three weeks of really digging in and trying to find people to be on camera and I am becoming exhausted.

Part of myself is wondering if I'M doing something wrong. 

Has anyone else fallen victim to this problem? How were you able to get out of this hole? How did you build a steady base of subject matter experts who you could rely on?
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Devon McCarty
Hey Jameson, sorry to hear you're struggling with SME's bailing. 

I know that's frustrating and throws off your production schedule, which personally, is the worst thing ever. 

In my experience, a large part of filming is salesmanship. This specifically means that leading up to, during, and after a shoot, I'm constantly building up my SME's. 

Things I constantly say with sincerity

Before the Shoot
  • I can't wait to work on this project with you!
  • Oh man, you're perfect for this one! 
  • It's amazing how well you understand this!

During the Shoot
  • (*the second they finish a good take*) Hell yeah! Hey your kicking ass right now, let's keep going!
  • Your eye contact was fantastic on that one!
  • I learned a lot on that one! Thanks! 

After the Shoot
  • This video is going to be so helpful to other people!
  • I can't wait to get started on these
  • How'd that feel? You looked really comfortable 

Words of affirmation are a big part of helping someone get their head in the right space. Before filming with you, the majority of your SME's are thinking about all the reasons that they aren't smart enough or good enough or about what their teammates might think.

But they ARE good enough. They know more about the subject than anyone else. They're the friggin' experts!

Remind them of that!

A few tricks to help get them comfortable: 
  • Hold Internal Training Sessions (get buy-in from your leadership on this one). 

How often do you have your gear set up so people can just get used to it? Video production is new, exciting, and sometimes scary for a lot of folks. So by demystifying it (I'll even take people on a walk-through of all my equipment and explain some of the post-production) you can highlight how B-Roll works and reinforce your skills as an editor. 

  • Let them practice some camera work, ahead of time, by teaching them to download and use GoVideo (if they haven't already) just so they can get used to hearing and seeing themselves. Give them some scripts to work on or let them write their own and practice their delivery. 

  • Keep your filming room cold. They're going to be uncomfortable the second they get there. Keeping it cold can help. 

  • Show some other examples of what you're trying to do and how it's helpful to customers and employees. If you have someone else in the company that's great on camera, show them some examples so they can get some inspiration.

  • Play with the "style" of the shot. Maybe they aren't ready to look straight into the lens of the camera and deliver world-class content. No big deal. Let them train a bit by moving the camera off-center a bit, then have them talk to YOU and not the Lens. Sure you might lose some eye contact, but you're trying to build your bench of SME's and sometimes, that takes time and a bit of training. 

Best of luck to you as you continue to produce awesome video content. Let me know if you get any progression and what works for your SME's! 


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