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Oct '16 | How To Create a Stand Out Speaker Reel

Spotlight Series: The Speaker Reel

For more relevant tips for today’s professional speaker, check out our most recent 2022 blog: Today’s Audience Doesn’t Want Your 2019 Speaker Reel

But also keep reading the original text, because these tips are still relevant:


For the professional speaker, creating a speaker reel that showcases core messaging, energy on stage, and ability to connect with the audience is so important. But gathering that type of footage from various presentations, in a variety of venues, from different clients, isn’t an easy task. Nor does it always result in quality footage.

In this Spotlight Series, we break down the creative process we used when producing our latest speaker reel, and share tips and tricks helpful to anyone looking to create an excellent marketing tool of their own.

The Client | Transformational Leadership Expert Carol Isozaki 

Based in the SF Bay Area, Carol works with a variety of clients such as The Walt Disney Company, Oracle, ebay, Bank of America and SAP, to name a few.

The Need | A Speaker Reel

Carol wanted a reel that highlighted her core messaging, her enthusiasm on stage, and her ability to motivate audiences, all sliced together in less than three minutes.

The Challenge | Gathering Quality Footage

Carol had a variety of clips from previous presentations, but no one clip fully encapsulated what she was all about. Plus, she had just booked a speaking engagement at the prestigious Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco, but had learned that her client wasn’t planning on recording it.

And that’s when Carol’s relationship with Patina Pictures began.


Phase One: Creative Strategy


As we do with all our video clients, we begin the process with a robust creative strategy session. In this case, we started by choosing three speaker reels that we liked, and three that we didn’t, which helped us solidify a common language.

Then we determined the following:

  • Style: The video’s style should be concurrent with the speaker’s presentational style. If your presentations are fast paced and energetic, the editing should reflect the same. If you aim to inspire, which was the case with Carol, then everything– from color palate to music choice– should have that quality.
  • Messaging: There’s only so much you can message in a three minute speaker reel, so take the time to really boil down 4-5 key soundbites that sum up the essence of your presentations. During this phase, Carol also reached out to her clients for their input, which proved very insightful.
  • Tone: The speaker reel’s tone stems from the specific emotional responses you want your viewers to feel. In Carol’s case, there were three: Motivate, Connect, and Entertain. Carol’s not only inspirational, she’s a catalyst for change, hence the need to choose soundbites and visuals that made her audience lean in. Her presentations are also filled with several relatable anecdotes, hence the desire to connect. And finally, Carol’s delivery and stage presence is always entertaining.
  • Audience: Understand who your target audience is, and communicate that with your videographer. Knowing Carol’s key audience not only proved helpful in the scripting process, it helped us choose appropriate visuals during production.

Phase Two: Preproduction


Preproduction is all about logistics. It’s about marrying the above script work with a concrete production plan. It’s about outlining the challenges, and coming up with creative solutions.

Here are three challenges and solutions we discovered during preproduction of Carol’s speaker reel:

  • Challenge: What does motivate actually look like? 
  • Solution: As it turns out, Carol can’t deliver the visual of motivate on her own. We needed to add another camera in order to capture audience reactions and interactions so that we could fully experience the powerful visual.
  • Challenge: We wanted succinct, yet broad soundbites– nothing that called out the client specifically, or any other proprietary information. 
  • Solution: We placed two cameras (not just one) at the back of the house which helped us surgically sculpt our soundbites in post.
  • Challenge: What does connect look like? It’s hard to feel really connected to a speaker when your vantage point comes from the back of the room (like our cameras.) 
  • Solution: We taped Carol’s rehearsal. The close ups showcased in her speaker reel were captured a day before the presentation, yet edited in a way that made the viewer feel like they were in the room.

Phase Three: Production


By this point, all the hard lifting should already be done. Now it’s time to just focus on your presentation. But here are a few basic production reminders that will make your speaker reel feel more polished.

  • Lights: Know where your lights are, and don’t drift into the dark. Often presenters wander to the front of the stage in order to get closer to their audience, but that’s not always where your ideal light source is located. Be cognizant of the set up prior, so the visuals captured look their best.
  • Wardrobe: Choose your wardrobe wisely. If you’re typically in front of a black curtain, don’t wear black. Generally speaking, stay away from patterns, small stripes, logos, or stark whites. Bold solid colors tend to work best.
  • Jewelry: For the ladies out there, large necklaces tend to interfere with wireless lavalieres. We suggest choosing smaller accessories, or no accessories at all.
  • Diversity: Talk about diversity with your videographer prior to filming, as you’ll want diversity all across the board. You want diversity in terms of wardrobe– choose an outfit that is different than your other media clips. You also want diversity in camera angles, as multiple perspectives makes for a powerful performance. And finally, if you are capturing audience reactions, make sure you’re capturing diversity in terms of ages, races, and genders.

Thank you Carol for the opportunity, and for everyone for checking this out!

“K’Dee is extremely passionate and committed to her craft, has the talent to back it up, and exudes an infectious energy and collaborative spirit that makes her a dream business partner. With remarkably minimal direction, she was able to spot-on articulate who I was as a service provider, sketch out a powerful story frame, and then produce a sizzle reel far beyond expectations. She is a MUST-HAVE business partner in my book!” ~ Carol Isozaki

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K'Dee Miller is the Founder & Creative Director of Patina Pictures.

Her feature films have premiered at Sundance Film Festival, AFI Fest, Newport Beach Film Festival, among others. Her corporate video clients span from technology companies such as Microsoft, RingCentral, DocuSign and Adobe, to Bay Area nonprofits such as Team4Tech and Hamilton Families.

She's studied her industry from every angle, receiving production training from The Juilliard School, an MFA of Writing from University of San Francisco, and a BFA of Acting from Marymount Manhattan College.

She is currently in the process of writing a memoir about growing up in the wilderness of Alaska.