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Customer Testimonials: How to Prepare to be on Camera (Especially if You Don’t Want To)

When we ask people to appear in customer testimonial videos, we get one of two responses: “YES! Now I can start my IMDb page.”

And the others that say, “Uh, sure? I don’t really want to, but I like you guys, so … I guess I’ll do it.”

Customer testimonials are important. Like, really important. Like so important, marketing expert, Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios talks about how important they are:

“Video testimonials are without a doubt one of the most powerful pieces of content you can put on any website.”

With the increase in online shopping, customers require more reassurance that what they’re purchasing is the real deal and customer testimonials help provide the evidence they need. That’s why it has to be real customers because viewers can see right through hired actors and scripted conversations. Plus, offering to do customer testimonials for a company you loved is an easy way to say, “Thanks for your great work!”.

Regardless of what camp you might fall in, customer testimonial videos are actually kind of fun. However, for those of you that are nervous, here are some tips for your customer testimonial debut.

Before the Shoot

First off: There’s no pressure! Remind yourself that it was a great partnership. You were nominated, so someone believes that you would be able to tell a great story AND be great on camera. Trust us, companies don’t ask people they think will freeze up or tell a not-so-compelling story. Being asked is basically a form of flattery.

This also gives you an opportunity to buoy up a company or organization that you believe in. Good work deserves to be recognized and what better way than through a visual story of how you worked together to meet common goals?

“No animals were harmed in the filming of this video.”

Sound silly? Well, that’s because there’s no real reason to be nervous, just remember that no one’s life is on the line. Take some weight off your shoulders and start getting jazzed about doing something great.

Also, there is a benefit to you. You’re expanding your skill set by having some on-air time and you can add it to your LinkedIn profile and resume. Also, you can ask the company that you volunteered for to endorse and recommend you. The wins just keep coming!

Set Expectations for the Set

Sweating buckets thinking about a number of lights will be on you? Well, we can’t lie to you, there will be lights. More than what you’re used to because the director is going to want to highlight your face and make sure that every shot looks bright and positive.

Most likely the shoot will be in your office or home, If not, get there early so you can familiarize yourself with the space. You can also ask your director for a photo of an example set. Here’s one of ours:

Customer Testimonials Example
See? That’s not bad! You got this.

You Got the Look (Everything You Need to Know About Clothes, Makeup, Etc.)

Clothes: When it comes to your wardrobe, stick to solid colors since patterns can play tricks with the camera. However, also try to avoid wearing solid black, white, or a highly saturated color such as red. When it comes to the color correction phase of editing, these colors can make the editor’s job much more difficult.

You may also want to avoid wearing solid green in case you have any in-office pranksters. Just sayin’.

Hair and Makeup: The director wants you to just be you, which means that you should wear your makeup and hair the same as you usually do. Because of that, make sure you bring your makeup along if you need touch-ups.

Finishing touches: As for glasses, let the director know. They might need to adjust the lighting to reduce glare. And for jewelry, less is always better. One, you don’t want to distract the viewer from your face, and second, sometimes the mic can pick up the sound of it jingling, which can be a nightmare for the audio editor.

During the Shoot

Beware of Your Energy Levels

The truth is, it’s exhausting to be on camera because your energy levels will need to be one notch above what feels normal.

Here is an example of how people usually sound off camera:

Here is an example of how to sound on camera:

Even professionals need to remind themselves to boost up the energy. So, if you find yourself feeling a little sluggish, take a break. Just dance, jump, or skip. Something physical to distract your brain. Exercise can be a great way revive the conversation, especially if you’ve been sitting or standing for a long period of time.

Freewheeling and the Art of Feedback

The big difference between a customer testimonials video shoot and an explainer videoor educational video is there isn’t a script, so the director can capture genuine responses from you.

We know, we know! You were feeling all calm and confident and then we stressed you out again. If you’re concerned about the free-flow conversation, reach out to your director and ask for some sample questions or a general outline of where they want the conversation to go.

This also means be prepared for feedback and be okay with multiple takes because there will be multiple takes. Your director just wants to make sure you look and sound your best, so they will always take a safety shot even if you nail it the first time.

They may also ask you the same question twice, just to hear you answer it different ways. Just remember that feedback isn’t a reflection of you, it’s just notes of how of how the shot can approve.

If you start getting stuck in your head or finding yourself in a negative feedback loop, returning back to your breath can be a great mental break. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with taking a moment. We all need them.

Keep it conversational

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to treat it like a normal conversation. Imagine that you met the director on a bus or at a party. Customers want to see and hear real people talk about this particular company or product, and the more natural it feels, the more successful the video is.

After the Shoot

The Moment You’ve Been Waiting For

You did it! You made it through your first customer testimonial video.

*Hold for applause*

That’s it. Enjoy and add it to your skills list.


When being asked to star in a customer testimonial video, most of us go for the “uhhhhhhh, okay?” route. However, with the proper preparation, we all can be stars! Or, more realistically, we can all be comfortable on camera.

If you have any tips or tricks, please share in the comments.

Don’t forget to tweet us your IMDb link!


Itching to learn more about video? Here are other great posts:

How to Take Your Video from Good to Great

Grab Your Viewers’ Attention in 10 Seconds

Written by Sarah Ramler-Olson
Sarah Ramler-Olson is the Marketing Manager for Demo Duck, a Chicago-based video production company. When she’s not writing about marketing tips, she mostly tweeting about ice cream. Follow Demo Duck on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.