How to Get Personal (But Not Too Personal) in Your Videos

Here are five guidelines for telling your story to prospects and clients.

By Laura Garfield
Laura Garfield
Laura Garfield

Getting your video messaging right can feel as tricky as standing on roller skates trying to catch a first-time skating kindergartener whose feet just flew out from under her. It takes a lot of balance. Trust me, I’ve been there.

When it comes to video marketing, your audience’s needs must be front and center. But when it comes to building relationships, it won’t work if your communication is all one-sided. Let’s go back to the roller rink. It would be like attempting a full lap on one skate. Pretty tricky.

To build trust in video, think about your audience, then share a little about you – like going back and forth from one skate to another. Look at you, you’re skating now. Watch out for that out-of-control kindergartener!

The “Broke and Old” Lesson

If you sat down for a conversation with advisor Peter Tedstrom, Founder of Tedstrom Wealth Advisors, you’d be sure to get some colorful stories curated from Peter’s own life. That’s how he builds relationships.

It didn’t take a lot of arm twisting to convince Peter to tell some personal stories in his videos.

“When you are personal with your clients or prospects, they tend to listen more carefully, and I think clients feel like they can relate better to us as advisors when we’re personal,” Peter affirms.

That’s why the story Peter tells about his grandpa is so effective. His grandpa was a cardiologist who got started so many decades ago that he took eggs and chickens and oranges in trade for his services.

Watch Peter’s personal longevity story here

The scene set in the video is heartwarming, but the moral of it, in Peter’s own words, is pretty blunt. “If you’re gonna be old, you don’t wanna be broke.”

Putting Personal Stories to Work

You’ve probably heard that storytelling is one of the most effective and memorable ways to make a point. “I’ve been told throughout my career that storytelling resonates more than just telling,” says Peter. “And so, that longevity story, and it’s a real story, is a personal story. Every time I tell it, it resonates with most people.”

Resonating with your audience isn’t a coincidence. You need to carefully choose your story and then structure it in a way that delivers the results you want.

Here are five guidelines to frame your narrative:

  1. Choose it carefully. Peter’s longevity story had been on a test run. He’d told it in meetings with prospects and clients. He knew it had impact when he told it in person. The next step was recording it in a video so he could share it on a broader scale.
  2. Start strong. Getting your audience’s attention is an uphill battle with so many demands on their time. If you are going to get them to watch, you must engage the audience from the beginning. Peter starts with a question. “Do you have a hero in your life?” Opening with a question or a surprising statistic is a great way to hook your viewers.
  3. Use the “you.” To keep your audience watching, make sure you use the word “you” as much as you can. Don’t talk about people in the third person. Peter does this all the way through his video. In fact, he uses “you” two times in the first four seconds of his video.
  4. Make it Memorable. Do this by weaving in relatable details and analogies. Peter talks about taking payment in oranges and eggs. Details like that bring the story to life and will stick in your viewers’ minds.
  5. Close the Loop. Don’t forget this is a marketing video. You want to deliver an actionable message to your audience. At about the 90-second mark, Peter switches from story-telling mode into marketing mode. He explains the value his perspective brings to his clients.

This story structure can be as easy as lacing up your roller skates. Make it a routine to follow these guidelines as you plan your personal story, and you’ll connect like Peter. When he shared his grandpa’s longevity story, he heard things like, “it’s a heartwarming story” and it “caused us to think about our longevity differently.” He made a connection and had an impact, all in 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

How Much is TMI?

Just like not every kid was born to skate, not every story is the right story to tell. There is such a thing as too much information (aka TMI).

“You know, there’s some things that are for life partners or other family members,” Peter says.

“And you share different levels with different relationships, too. I have some very close friends that are clients or clients that are friends that I share a lot more with and connect more with than others.”

For example, talking about getting your start in the working world as a bartender might actually undermine your credibility. You might find talking about a personal tragedy like losing a child to be too emotional to share. And there are topics that can make your audience feel uncomfortable, too. If you are weighing whether a story is TMI, err on the side of caution and skip that one.

Additional Reading: Video Compliance Doesn’t Have to be a Nightmare

You don’t want to run the risk of making your viewers uncomfortable. Guideline No. 1 above is a good way to take a story for a test lap around the rink. Try it out in a meeting with a client or prospect. If the story is easy to tell and gets the reaction you expected, you are ready to roll.

Laura Garfield is co-founder of Idea Decanter, a video marketing company that creates custom videos remotely for financial advisors. Laura’s team helped Peter produce, record, and edit his grandpa’s longevity story, and help with Peter’s ongoing marketing strategy. To find out more about how to create videos remotely, visit or email

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