Volunteer vs Professional Talent: Which is Best for Your Video?

Jeff Pelletier

Jeff Pelletier

Jeff is the co-founder and CEO of Basetwo Media, a video production agency in Vancouver that helps businesses get results with video.

professional talent

If you’re making a video that requires a host, spokesperson, or someone to play a role, you’ll need to cast that individual. Unfortunately, Morgan Freeman is probably outside your budget.

This leaves you with basically two options: You can ask a volunteer, or you can look for other professional talent. There are pros and cons to both options, so let’s review which might be best for your video.

Using a Volunteer

Depending on your video’s messaging and objectives, it might make more sense to use a volunteer from your own organization. If you’re demonstrating a complicated product – like some kind of complex software – your presenter will need to actually be familiar with the product. The last thing you want is your host to fumble through the demo.

Even if there’s no product in the video, if the content involves a lot of industry-specific language, you might find that it’s best to work with an individual who’s actually in the field. Ideally, your viewers will see that your video’s content is coming from a genuine source, and that’ll naturally lend more credibility to your video. Using real people always makes for a more authentic-feeling video as well.

But before you go ahead and cast Bill from Sales, read on.

There’s a risk involved in casting someone who’s inexperienced with video. Simply put, they might not shine on camera. Even people who are normally confident and outgoing tend to lose their cool in the spotlight. You don’t want to wait till your shoot to find out that your host is nervous, uncomfortable, and sweaty.

Hosting a video usually means wearing a microphone, standing for hours in front of bright lights, reading from a teleprompter, doing multiple takes, taking criticism from people – oh, and trying your best to appear relaxed and comfortable the whole time. It can feel like a performance, and some people don’t do well with that sort of pressure.

Using Professional Talent

The great thing about working with professional talent is that they’re cool with all that stuff, and they’re efficient. That’s important, not only because you’ll generally end up with better deliveries, but also because you’ll have more time to get it right. Whereas your volunteer might need a while to get comfortable in the studio, a professional will feel right at home.

Professionals are also accustomed to taking direction. If you say “Great, let’s try that again with 15% more energy”, they’ll understand right away, and it won’t hurt their feelings.

Read more: Interviews vs. Spokesperson

Of course, hiring a pro will add to your cost, and if budget is your main concern, you might be tempted to use a volunteer. But don’t forget that, if you’re using one of your employees, you’re paying for their time too. Professionals might cost a few hundred dollars more, but that extra value might turn out to be a worthwhile investment.

So, Which is Best for Your Video?

If you’re having a hard time deciding, consider holding auditions with your staff. Shine some lights on them, roll the camera, and see how they do. This may seem like a lot of prep work, but if your host features prominently in the video, it’s important to make sure that you’ve got the right person for the job.

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