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Do I Need Professional Talent for My Video?

When one talks about talent for a video production, this typically refers to individuals with the charisma and presence needed to be competent actors for a production.

First, What Is “Talent?”

These actors can be just about anybody, from a professional artist with years of experience to an employee of the client's company with a particularly good stage presence. The former is referred to as "professional talent," while the latter is known as "volunteer talent."

Do I Need Professional Talent for a Video?

Though volunteer talent may seem like an excellent resource, using volunteer talent may not always be the best decision for your production in the long run. When considering whether to use professional talent or volunteer talent, consider the following benefits of talent for video marketing:

Familiarity with the video process

The last thing you want is for your lead actor to get stage fright at the first shoot. With a professional artist, you avoid this entirely. For professional talent, this is an everyday job, so they are comfortable in front of the camera and know what to expect. This includes memorizing and delivering lines efficiently and organically, knowing how to look comfortable and natural on the set in multiple scenarios and taking direction well. With a professional actor, you're guaranteed to get a production with better presence and more efficient results than you would get with a volunteer cast member.

Reduced production time

If time is money, then professional actors can help you save. When your production team is working at an hourly rate, spending more time on the production means more cost to you, so it's important to get an entire team who knows what they are doing.

This is particularly the case for the talent. While volunteer talent may take several shots to get a usable piece, a professional actor can get you the same or better quality piece in a fraction of the time. This can save you hundreds in hourly wages for the cast and crew, resulting in a cheaper production overall. Though it may seem like you're saving money with a volunteer, you could be wasting that money on time it takes the volunteer to get up to speed.

Emotional connection

Does your video need more of an emotional connection? Does it include humor, heartbreak or even the occasional inspiring pep talk? These kinds of appeals to emotion require a practiced hand to accomplish, which few volunteers can achieve. With an experienced professional actor, however, you can reach all of them.

Professional artists know how to evoke certain emotions over others, which means they can bring an additional level of passion to your production than you could ever get out of volunteer talent. That's not to say that volunteer talent is never a good resource for an emotional connection, but if you want a wider range of possible emotions, professional talent is one of the best ways to go.

Video longevity

Using volunteer talent from inside your company may seem like a good idea now, but it may result in some awkwardness later and can negatively affect the longevity of your video. Internal talent may not stay in the same position forever — maybe the actor got promoted within the company to a more prestigious position, making their part of the video irrelevant.

Maybe the talent even left the company on bad terms — if this is the case, then the video is practically useless, as it uses a representative who no longer works for your business and could even present a bad image of the company. You get neither problem with a professional actor from outside the enterprise. With a talented artist, you get a representative whose reputation isn't intrinsically tied to your organization, resulting in a video with a much longer lifespan than your company's turnover rate.

Polished professionalism

At the end of the day, a video made with professional talent often ends up more polished than one made with volunteer talent. Professional talent can deliver lines crisply and naturally, giving the emotion needed to achieve the look and feel needed for the production. The result is a more professional-looking production that looks and feels refined.

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When Can I Use Volunteer Talent for a Professional Video?

All these benefits of using professional talent make it the best default casting choice for most productions. However, it is important to note that there are some situations in which it might be preferable to use volunteer talent, too. Here are a few examples of how you can use volunteer talent for a professional video:

Emotional appeals

Using volunteer talent in the form of a founder or manager can be useful in cases where there’s a strong emotional appeal that depends on the business’s history. A heartfelt tale of how the founder came to the industry or an anecdote about a customer helped by the product can go a long way toward making an emotionally compelling video.

Expert representation

For businesses working within a highly technical field, bringing in one of your experts on staff — particularly ones who are widely respected within your industry — can help your video establish a sense of expertise and subject matter knowledge.

Brand recognition

Some companies have a brand focused around their founder or owner, and many businesses can benefit from such an arrangement. By adding a few shots of the founder delivering company quotes or taglines, your audience can put a face to your company, improving brand recognition.


When you want to portray your brand, products, or services by sharing genuine, authentic customer or employee experiences, volunteer talent is a great option. Allowing your team or customers to share their thoughts offers a highly effective appeal that future customers can easily identify with.

Use your best judgment when choosing whether to use a volunteer or professional talent. When wondering if you need professional actors for your video production, always consider the emotions and feelings you want to evoke in your video and if you have staff who can effectively accomplish them. When in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to defer to professional talent.

Learn More About Talent

Want to learn more about how to use talent in your video production? Contact NextThought Studios today to learn how you can benefit from professional video making services.

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Janelle Bevan, M.A.

Janelle Bevan, M.A.

Janelle has produced and project-managed a wide array of videos ranging from corporate commercials to long-form documentaries. While completing her Master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma, she served as the graduate assistant to the department chair for Creative Media. Janelle has worked with many nationally recognized organizations, creating documentaries for the National Association of Broadcasters, designing and editing instructional videos for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and producing the 2015 Broadcast Education Association awards show in Las Vegas. Janelle is a six-time Telly Award winner and won a 2016 Emmy for her documentary featuring a collaboration from three executive producers of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Janelle served as NextThought’s Director of Post-Production and Media Management and helped facilitate over 1,000 videos during her time at NextThought.

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