Toolkit

Video Cue Cards: How to Format Them

By on Saturday, December 7, 2013

We all love effortless looking videos about the organizations and issues we care about, but it often takes a little magic behind the scenes to ensure that key points are delivered effectively. While I prefer to have a thoughtful spokesperson on camera with presence who can fling sound bytes effortlessly without a prompt, many people need more help to deliver a message effectively on camera.

People today may be carrying smartphones with video cameras on them 24/7, but cameras still make some people nervous. Factor in the desire to deliver a polished message and an organization that needs to approve language before taping, and you can easily get a slightly stilted or stiff spokesperson on camera. The same person who five minutes before the camera turned on was jovial, easy-going and well-spoken, can turn into a reciting, anxiety-stressed and clenched face person. While there are lots of exercises you can do to minimize this and improve on camera presence, you can eliminate the pressure to remember something precisely by using cue cards.

Some benefit from using notes with key talking points and that’s enough for many confident speakers to stay on point while on camera. But scripted cue cards can ensure a speaker covers all of their points without the stress of feeling like one has to memorize verbatim a speech, relieving the anxiety. Cue cards can help ensure your on-camera spokesperson fully delivers his or her lines as planned.

Formatting cue cards is not hard. I needed to do this quickly for a client who had to deliver a very precise message. So I googled cue cards and found some helpful advice, and even a downloadable MS-Word template for cue cards.  I found this advice:

  • Use 48 point Arial Narrow bold font
  • Set your page format to landscape
  • Avoid hyphenation.
  • Put page numbers on the cards

Although they encouraged me to print the cards out on card stock, that jammed in my printer, so I just used regular paper and am gluing them on to card stock to make them a little stiffer.

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media advice, writing services, and creative design work for publications and websites (portfolio). Ami blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

Thanks to CMT for this photo of cue cards on the set of Willie Nelson's "The Gravedigger." And with these cue card tips, your cards won't look hand-drawn.

Thanks to CMT for this photo of cue cards on the set for the video shoot for Willie Nelson’s “Gravedigger.” Your cards won’t look hand-drawn if you don’t want them that way.

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