How to summarise a speech

Just a few notes detailing how to make a video (or audio) recording of a long speech into a much shorter one. This is the procedure I go through when editing about an hour of content down to 5-8 minutes, like this video of Charles Leadbetter I edited recently.

  1. You’ll only be keeping the core message. Any sidelines that the speaker explores are probably going to have to go. Anecdotes or jokes will probably have to go too. Listen carefully to the speech and decide if each sentence contributes to the overall message. Cut anything that’s off target.
  2. Remove ums and ahs. Most speakers will use these and they don’t sound good. Of course, cutting them out of a video would leave a jump cut, so…
  3. Shoot with two or more video cameras. You don’t have to have an operator on each camera if the speaker isn’t moving, and it will give you much more flexibility in editing. Any time you need to cut something out, just switch to another camera.
  4. Record good audio. This isn’t always possible, but if you can get a feed from a lectern microphone, great. If you have to use a portable recorder, make sure it’s close to the speaker. Of course, if they move around a lot (or just walk away from the mic — as in the aforementioned video) you’re going to have to live with it. Do what you can with noise reduction software and at least keep the volume constant.
  5. Make sure the speaker’s message remains intact. If a key point can’t be made sufficiently concise, consider a title instead.
  6. Use their diagrams. If a presenter’s slides are available and appropriate, you have another angle of vision to cut with.
  7. Keep the vision interesting. If you have two cameras, you can still crop a shot to half screen with a title next to it, or show both cameras simultaneously in a split screen, or zoom and crop.
  8. Keep the cuts flowing. Even if you’re not making an edit, switch to another angle periodically. More than 7 seconds as a static shot gets dull.

Good luck. Of course, if you don’t want to do it yourself, hire me to do it instead!