inviting criticism: on listening to clients

Sometimes I do pro bono video work. I’m not exactly a pro, but I can do some things with story and visuals that can help other organizations.

flip videoI just finished one of those projects. We worked on the concept together, building a video that would be aimed at the kids who are involved with the organization rather than their parents or teachers. It would be short, full of faces, informal. It would draw on the three words idea of ABC’s Good Morning Weekend.

It’s a fun video.

After creating the concept, I went to work. I put in some story pieces, as I often do. For example, in the 1:45 minutes, there are three story sections. The last, the call to action, ends with applause in the music that is playing, and shows an applauding audience. In the first section, you can hear and see kids warming up musically.

I liked what I had done. I gave it to the client. They liked it, overall. However, there were specific critiques about images that I had chosen.

My first reaction was to be “the professional.” I know what I’m doing.

My second, much wiser reaction, was to listen.

Here’s what I learned.

1. Their questions made me edit better.

Because it was free, because I wanted to get done, I just got it done. When I had to look at it again because of their questions, I trimmed a little audio. I shortened several sections, little cuts that I only see when I make myself go back.

2. Their questions make me reconsider video I had originally rejected.

They weren’t happy with one early image. After I started looking at it, I realized that there was a piece of video that was perfect. I had rejected it previously because of the sound, but that didn’t matter now. If they hadn’t pushed me, I wouldn’t have been as good a steward.

3. Their questions made me tell a piece of story better than they knew.

Remember that ending with applause and audience faces? They wanted the kids at the end. I think their reason wasn’t as deep as mine. They just wanted faces again. After I found the right image, I realized that it was perfect. Seeing the pleased kids after the applause shows the prospective singers how good it feels. (I have a feeling that they knew intuitively what the ending needed to be.)

4. They caught inconsistencies.

Do you have to put www in front of web addresses? No. But you need to be consistent when you have three different addresses.

We’re all much happier with the video now. In fact, the first time I watched the new version in the preview screen, the emotion of it hit me. And I think about what I would have missed if I hadn’t actually listened to the client, to my friends.

Have you ever learned this way from people you were supposed to be doing a favor?

3 responses to “inviting criticism: on listening to clients

  1. so your just a bono then? does U2 know about this?

  2. I don’t think I’ve learned from people in this way because I never get past my first reaction.

    I’m gonna try harder next time.

    thanks Jon!

  3. what! you’re human?