You just love the sound of your own voice!

June 19, 2019
Max Tilney


It’s very unlikely !

Although most of us can rattle off a list of colleagues, clients, customers, friends and even family who seem to love the sound of their own voice, they rarely actually do.
Many of us are shocked, embarrassed, confused and even pained when we listen back to recordings of our own voices.

My 10 year old son’s favourite trick when he really wants to annoy me is to select an old voice-over demo I did many years ago for a client and that somehow made its way into my music library, and play it at full blast in the car.
I can’t stand the way I sound in that particular recording but I am used to hearing my own voice and so it’s actually the delivery that irritates me rather than the general sound of my own voice.

I’ve got beyond being pained or embarrassed by the sound of my recorded voice. And you need to as well.


Because we are increasingly required to record, or be recorded, for audio or video content as part of our everyday working life. From update content on LinkedIn and social channels to company videos, presentations and many more, the need to use your own voice (and face) in content is only going to increase.

The good news the problem lies solely with you!

We are the only ones who hear our voices the way we do. When we speak our voice is bouncing and vibrating around the bone, skin and tissue of our own heads. This means that the recorded version of our voice is what everyone else in the world hears when we speak (with some minor digital fluctuations maybe). Our voice doesn’t meet our own expectations basically.

So – move beyond the cringe phase and you’ll quickly be more comfortable and confident in recording all that content I referred to.

And if you haven’t tried recording and publishing any audio or video content then why not make today the day you start?
You may well surprise yourself!

If you are interested in any training to help with on-camera or voice performance then take a look here and get in touch. I love to talk!


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How long before you’re as recognisable as Jennifer Aniston?

March 21, 2019
Max Tilney


It is now understood that the brain recognises another human face within approximately 150 milliseconds.

Probably the best known neurons in the brain are the ‘Jennifer Aniston Cells’, resulting from noted research work by scientists at UCLA and Caltech in 2005.


During Neurosurgical tests on epileptic patients (who were awake during surgery) they were shown a series of pictures and the activity in their medial temporal lobe was measured. The result? When they were shown a picture of Jenifer Aniston’s face this area of brain activity spiked massively. Not any other faces. Not pictures of objects or scenes. Just Jennifer’s face.

Now, we don’t all have a face as recognisable as Jennifer Aniston’s but we do all have an area in our brains that responds only to faces.

Our brains are hardwired to respond to other human faces and will quickly find them in otherwise busy scenes or images.

This is a major reason why we frequently recommend that businesses put human faces in their company videos. Not just any faces though. Not actors. Real people doing real jobs with real stories to tell.

Increasingly businesses are realising that having real members of staff in video content (including marketing, internal and crisis communications) is what customers expect and what delivers the greatest impact for them with their videos.

These real faces can help us to build relationships and empathy and enable us to authentically bring our businesses to life.

We often determine whether someone is trustworthy, aggressive, confident, warm, nervous etc just by looking at their face.

In the same way that our brains are making rapid assessments and building impressions from a brief initial view of a face, so potential customers and clients are making the same judgements of our businesses when they see our company video. We may have a little longer than 150 milliseconds to make that first impression and hook the viewer – but not much!

You have approximately 8 seconds before your viewer clicks away if you haven’t engaged them.

Now obviously an engaging face will only get you so far and I’m sure we all have plenty of good examples of that from people we’ve met in our work and personal lives!

When you open your mouth and speak you are on the ‘second stage’ of your first impression. You now have to speak with confidence, honesty and authenticity – and yes, an appropriate dose of passion as well.

Your audience aren’t expecting an Oscar-winning performance. They want reality and authenticity. They do, however, expect you to fix their eyes, hold their attention and win them over with your facial expressions and your words.

Many of us are well-versed in standing in front of someone – or lots of someones – and introducing ourselves or selling. However, put a camera lens between us and our audience – take away the visual and auditory feedback and cues we get from a ‘live’ audience and all of a sudden it’s a lot harder to deliver with that same warmth, authenticity and confidence.


Because our brains don’t have a face they can register. They are looking at a small round inanimate object in the form of a camera lens – and to add to the problem, our brains now try to make it even harder by tricking us into thinking that we look or sound a bit strange, which often manifests itself in nerves, awkward movements, tension and ultimately a poor performance (the brain wins!).

So what can we do to help ourselves?

In short learn the basics and then practice. Not with a mirror or another person. Just a camera.

You also have to allow time to prepare your script properly (‘winging it’ rarely works) and the prepare yourself, both physically and mentally.

Remember – you are more likely to build trust in your brand if you deliver video content with confidence and authenticity.

If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your on-camera performance and that of your staff then why not contact us at TaleFin. We deliver bespoke, 1-to-1 training at your offices using real-life video production scenarios.

More about our On-Camera Training here


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“How to deliver the video content your customers expect..”

August 6, 2018
Max Tilney

I recently had the opportunity to talk at a great meet-up of the Oxford Digital Workers’ Union. It was a whistle-stop  run-through of what you need to consider when creating video and, more importantly, building a sustainable strategy for video.
Here’s the presentation so feel free to have a look and do get in touch if we can help with any or all of the 6 stages in the process I lay out here.

(Thanks for having me @ODWU!)


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Simple toolkits for better ROI with video

May 24, 2018
Max Tilney

One of the biggest challenges when investing in video content for your business is ensuring it delivers a
return on investment.


The biggest mistake businesses make is to invest in expensive content without first:

Defining the objectives and the audience

Assessing what to say and how

Locating the audience

Setting measurable KPIs

Part of this process is identifying which platforms the videos will be uploaded to in order to reach the target audience and how to optimise both the videos AND your channel on each platform to make the content as effective as possible.

We recently delivered a YouTube Toolkit for a global healthcare client who manage multiple regional YouTube channels and wanted to ensure each region’s channel was set-up and maintained so as to be a highly effective standalone channel, whilst also functioning as part of a global channel group.

Working with closely with our friends at Journey, the objective was to provide the client with a comprehensive step-by-step guide to using YouTube channels as an effective hosting platform and marketing tool for their content.

We started with the ‘Why?’

Why YouTube? There are now multiple online video platforms so there had to be a rationale for using YouTube to achieve the client’s objectives.

From there we delivered a step by step guide on how to register, brand, link and optimise the channel.

The next stage was simple instructions on how to upload video in the correct format and optimise each one for search and also so customers could easily understand what each video was offering. This included advice on the best way to organise videos within the channel and how to connect the regional channels. 

So, with an optimised channel up and running and content being uploaded to it regularly surely that’s job done, isn’t it?

Half of the job maybe!

As every sports team knows, if you don’t deliver in the second half then the you risk the first half being just wasted time!

The next and equally crucial steps are to continually analyse and evaluate the performance of your video content.

  • How do you understand and use analytics effectively to constantly inform and improve video your production and distribution techniques and strategy?
  • How do you make the most of existing content?
  • How do you get your content viewed using other touchpoints you have with your customers and
    potential customers?

Whether through blogs, email or social channels you should constantly be ensuring your video content is working as hard as possible for you and that you are measuring its effectiveness and applying learning to future content.

If you want to find out how our toolkits can help you improve results your video distribution or would like advice on how to create better video content then why not get in touch?

We’re always happy to talk!


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Video Production Packages

May 10, 2018
Max Tilney

Video is no longer a ‘nice to have’ option in your B2B marketing strategy.

Your customers and partners expect video from you.

Regular, high-quality video content generates:

  • Higher engagement
  • Stronger customer attention
  • Improved SEO
  • Higher retention rates
  • Increased email click-throughs
  • More customer conversions

At TaleFin we know how to create simple but effective content that captivates your audience. Equally importantly, we also offer expertise in developing a long-term, sustainable and successful video strategy for your business.

Whether you are just starting to think about creating video content or are already on that journey but need a more effective and sustainable way to generate regular video, we offer compelling packages to help you achieve your ambitions.

With TaleFin’s Video Production Packages you will benefit from expert industry insight into what content will most effectively meet your objectives, professional scriptwriting guidance and a quarterly video shoot at your chosen location resulting in up to six videos per quarter for you to distribute via your website, social media channels, blog, conferences, trade shows and anywhere else you engage your audience.

What’s included?

1 day pre-production and planning each quarter

We work with you to understand your objectives and devise creative solutions to achieve them.
We provide a script template allowing you to insert all scripted text and any pre-existing imagery (e.g slides, stills)  you require in the final edit. This simple template allows you to clearly picture the final content.
The quarterly planning  includes a one hour meeting or phone call with you.

1 half-day, single-camera shoot per quarter including basic lighting and sound kit.

We come to your office or chosen location and film with you, including professional guidance on how to get the best out of your on-camera delivery.
You can also use part, or all, of these filming sessions to capture content from customers and partners.

1 full day editing

Working from the script template we created with you, we edit your final content and deliver it in the correct format for your chosen distribution channels.


6 x 1-2 minute videos. 

To include: basic text overlay of name caption and pre-existing company logo and call to action frame at end plus any scripted stills you have provided.

What’s the investment?

We offer all of this for a simple,

monthly cost of £650*

Additional services

We also offer an up-front, single cost package through which we can help you pull together an initial  production and distribution strategy and create some basic assets to give your videos an extra layer of gloss.

Start-up package

Competitor analysis

Identify main areas of opportunity for video content production

Initial 12 month production calendar

Basic 2D logo animation

One-off cost of £995*

(*All prices are subject to VAT and travel costs are charged additionally)

We aim to keep our packages as simple and accessible as possible. We do offer extra services which you can add on at any stage and are always happy to discuss your requirements. You don’t need to worry about us trying to up-sell to you unnecessarily. We work with you to agree on the best solution to achieve your objectives.

Contact today to talk about how TaleFin can help your business 

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Video evaluation in high-flying action

November 3, 2016
Max Tilney


HH_master rgb_black logo


TaleFin were recently commissioned to deliver a video content evaluation for Hummingbird Helicopters


 The feedback was fantastic and gives great insight into the value that this service can deliver for your business.


TaleFin’s bespoke Video Evaluation service really impressed us and has been of huge benefit to Hummingbird Helicopters.

We’d highly recommend TaleFin based on:

1. The depth of knowledge they have in their complicated and rapidly evolving industry

2. Their first class customer service

3. The quality and speed at which they work and their ability to understand what your business model requires.

We had some simple ideas on what we thought we should be doing with this type of marketing but we soon realised that we lacked a logical/ sensible way of taking these ideas forward.

It’s been a pleasure dealing TaleFin, led by Max who has clearly been in this business a long time.

Capt. Matt Rake. Hummingbird Helicopters.


About Hummingbird Helicopters:

Hummingbird Helicopters provide flight training, introductory flights and trial lessons from their base at Robin Hood Airport, Doncaster. Their services cater for everything from ‘discovery days’ to full pilot licence qualification and their crew have an enviable record of experience in helicopter piloting across a range of territories and various aircraft types.

Founder, Capt. Matt Rake’s goal is to pass on his knowledge and provide safe, consistent but heavily customer-focused helicopter services and training.


What we did:

TaleFin undertook an analysis of Hummingbird’s current video content performance, measured against that of their competitors and provided an accessible and actionable set of recommendations for improving their creative content production and creating an effective, manageable and easy to follow distribution strategy.

What next?

Have a look here for more information about video evaluation, or email  us at today to find out how we can help you deliver immediate and measurable improvements to your video content production and distribution.

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We should all be ‘Chasing Great’ like Richie McCaw

July 6, 2016
Max Tilney

Chasing GreatUnrivalled. Best in class. Professional.

All words we would like associated with our business.
They, and may similar, have been used to describe Richie McCaw.
Double World Cup winner –  the most successful All Black rugby captain in history.

The film ‘Chasing Great’, documenting Richie’s life, comes out in New Zealand this September.
It’s a story. Ok, it’s a story about a superb athlete and team leader and his rise to world supremacy  and whose ‘job’ was watched by millions across the world.

Richie, much like the New Zealand All Blacks, is now a recognised brand. So is your company.
The only barriers to you telling an equally compelling story in video as ‘Chasing Great’ are your:

  1. Understanding of your audience
  2. Appreciation of your role in their world
  3. Confidence in telling bold stories

Define your audience

Richie McCaw has loyal followers. Some follow because they love rugby and pay to attend matches or watch on TV. Essentially they pay to consume  his product (and yes, the rest of the squad are a big part of that as well!).
Some identify with him purely because he is a local boy who is great at what he does. Schools. Home towns. New Zealand. Even if they have never paid to consume the product they identify with him and celebrate it and their association with it.
Your business has followers for similar reasons. Consumers, affiliated companies, other local businesses – they are all supporters who are predisposed to your story.

Assess what you want to say to them

The McCaw story is one of humble beginnings; a dream; a vision; planning; determination; focus. Sound familiar? You don’t need to be internationally recognised to have a compelling story to tell. If you have identified your audience correctly you will already have their attention.
What does your business do really well? What has it achieved? What are your ethos and working culture – your brand values? Your audience want to hear about these and more.


Locate your audience 

Whilst you might not have 80,000 of your supporters coming to your place of work to cheer you on (how great would that be though!) you should already know where they are. How do you reach them when you want to talk to them?
Email addresses? Facebook? Twitter? YouTube? Instagram? Postal addresses? Retail visitors?


Now that you have identified the who, where and why it’s time to have fun with the ‘what’.
Use the most creative people in your business to build your story.

If you don’t have the people, time or confidence to do that then bring in a specialist creative agency to help you  get the ball rolling. In fact, bring the agency in even if you DO have all the |
resources to hand.
They will help you maximise creativity and return on investment, minimise time-to-market and provide a crucial independent and objective assessment that cannot be achieved if you are embedded in a business.
Unsurprisingly, ‘Chasing Great’ wasn’t produced and directed by Richie McCaw. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to be involved.

He agreed because he wanted to ‘inspire some young kids’.
That sounds like a good enough starting point to me !


Ultimately ‘Chasing Great’ needs to make money for someone – and more than they spent on producing it. That will come through cinema and other distribution deals. For  McCaw however the real benefit will be brand perception. Increased positivity towards him, what he stands for and what he does. He won’t measure its success solely by the number of people who buy a cinema ticket. It will be the groundswell of positivity across numerous channels that will provide the real long-term reward.


Be in no doubt, Richie McCaw will have a plan. A strategy. He’s spent his playing career devising and managing personal and team strategies and then adapting them when things aren’t going to plan.
He’s identified what works and what doesn’t in a variety of situations and changed his strategy accordingly. That strategy could be across a four year Rugby World Cup cycle, a season, a week or even split second decisions on the field.
When your business achieves a success what do you do? Celebrate it. Identify the contributing factors and then repeat it as often as possible.

A clearly defined and scalable video strategy is easily achieved with a clear vision, a positive approach  and the right professional input.

Time to start ‘Chasing Great’!

You can read more about the release of ‘Chasing Great’ and watch the trailer here.

(If you, like Max, are a bit of a rugby fan you might also like this previous TaleFin blog which includes  reference to the All Blacks ethos and how it might be applied  to business)






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Your business needs to be more like Roy Hodgson

June 28, 2016
Max Tilney

soccer-449381“We’ve been unable to deliver. 
Thank you very much.” 

Ok, so maybe you shouldn’t adopt the last two sentences of Roy’s resignation announcement as your new company motto – especially if you are an Amazon or DHL.

There is  speculation that Roy had written the speech before the first whistle of the miserable encounter with Iceland, let alone the final one.  If that is indeed the case then I’d ask you, where’s  the problem ? Put aside the questions over whether his team selections  or tactics were correct and imagine you are Roy and the England squad are your business.

Do you approach any situation hoping that your business will fail miserably (even if you have failed in the same situation for more than a decade!)?  Of course not. But you damn well ought to be catering for every eventuality in terms of how you communicate with your consumers/fans.

Your audience will either expect to hear from you around significant events related to your business, or theirs, or you have the opportunity to surprise and delight them with some unexpected content.

Either way my point is that you have to plan – even if you’re planning for the unexpected/unintended/unwanted.

We spend a lot of time at TaleFin helping clients take a long-term, holistic view of not just their video content but the wider strategy of how, when and where they are talking to their consumers.

Why does this sort of planning matter? 

It matters because even if you want to be reactive in most of your communication you need to PLAN to be reactive. You need to ensure you have the resources in place to create or curate the most impactful, relevant and engaging content you possibly can.

A well constructed content calendar will help you take a long-range view of your communications strategy; minimising costs, maximising impact and therefore improving the quality and quantity of your content.

This is particularly relevant with video which can be significantly more expensive to create unless you have the appropriate resources in place. The appropriate resources may be a full camera crew ready to capture content or one of your staff with a smartphone and access to your social channels  in order to post content in record time.

If you haven’t planned for the camera crew you will either pay more or not be able to find one in time. If you haven’t planned to give employees the required resources and access then they will most likely encounter multiple barriers to delivering  that ‘cost-effective, fast turnaround video content’.

When working with clients we find that it’s usually easy to get them to identify events in their business cycle that they want to be taking about. They are usually the celebratory ones such as highlighting new releases or milestones and successes. The real work is identifying when you might NEED to say something because your audience will expect to hear from you and often that involves having a Plan B.

Roy’s Plan A was to celebrate an English victory over Iceland but while Joe Hart let Plan A roll into the back of the net Roy realised that he would need to reluctantly pull Plan B from his pocket. 

So, who says what next? FA announce a new manager?  Minister for Sport announces a review of elite football in England? Your guess is a good as mine but any announcement needs to be assessed in term of its context with other communications and strategic aims.

It will need a plan!

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Why ‘Harry Potter and The Shiny car’ is your best approach to video content production

February 9, 2016
Max Tilney

I got into my car this morning.
Opened the Sat Nav app on my phone.
It asked me for my destination.
I entered ‘Anywhere’
It couldn’t find ‘Anywhere’.
So I started driving in the direction that looked the most scenic.
I didn’t care because I’ve got a shiny car that I like to be seen in.

Ridiculous? Yes. Well, that is unless you really don’t have anywhere to be (maybe you’re a Sunday Driver)

The truth is that unless you enjoy wasting your time, money and energy driving randomly then you really do want to put a specific destination in the SatNav.

So, what has this got to do with Harry Potter – or video?

JK Rowling is one of many writers who penned the last paragraph of her books first. She had a specific destination in mind which, without restricting her creativity or limiting the journey she took, gave her a specific target to reach in that concluding paragraph.

I meet with countless people who hold responsibility for their brand’s video production and a surprising number tell me that they ‘have lots of great video content we don’t not what to do with’.

Which generally begs the question – ‘why did you make it in the first place?’

Rarely is the answer to that question

“We have so much excess marketing budget we don’t know what to do with it, so we thought we’d plough it into random video content”

(their shiny car!).

For those who remember the film ‘Field of Dreams’ you will recall Kevin Costner’s, ‘If you build it they will come’  line.

If you work in Marketing of any kind you will recognise that, in 99% of cases, that line is almost as much rubbish as ‘Waterworld’ (end of Costner references).


The truth is they won’t come unless  you build it for them.
They won’t find it unless you point them in the right direction.

So what do you do?

Strategy (n) “a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim”

Figure out exactly where you want to go. There will be a variety of different routes you can take but the important thing is to know your destination first.

At TaleFin we work to help business of all sizes build coherent and sustainable strategies for their video content. We start every story at the end, hence the Anglo-French  (Tale-Fin) of our name!

  • Defining and locating your audience
  • Assessing what you want to say to them
  • Creating great stories to engage them
  • Measuring the results

And if you don’t think you have anything worth creating a video about or are worried it’s all too expensive, then give us a call. We’d love to surprise you!
(no Kevin Costners please)

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A Revolutionary Content Principle

March 4, 2015
Max Tilney

Three eye-opening discoveries have struck me this week.

Firstly, I unearthed the horrific details of a crime in the leafy, tranquil surroundings of my very own doorstep.

Secondly, I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that, contrary to my assertions over twenty years ago, I will in actual fact find myself referencing the first film I ever studied at university.

The crime was abhorrent, unprovoked and unnerving for a small rural community.
A pub landlady in an Oxfordshire hamlet was murdered in cold blood and with no apparent motive.
The killer was found, arrested and convicted. He was three months past his fifteenth birthday when he took the woman’s life and with such gore and violence that even now a film director may struggle to justify portraying the events in full.

The year was 1922. The relevance? It is thought to be the first instance in Britain of someone being influenced to commit a crime by the images they saw at
the cinema.

Blame it on the pictures

the young Jack Hewitt is recorded to have said after signing his police statement.

The film I studied was released three years after the murder and is unrelated but not without connection.

It was 1925 and Sergei Eisenstein directed a film which dramatised the mutinous events of 1905 aboard the Battleship Potemkin when the crew turned against their Tsarist commanders.
Although much of it was lost on me all those years ago it is, nonetheless, a powerful and emotional piece of cinema and is often cited as one of the most influential propaganda films of all time.

We don’t know which film or films Jack Hewitt might have been blaming for his murderous actions but we can be pretty sure they weren’t produced with the intention of provoking murder.
We do know that Eisenstein’s acclaimed ‘Battleship Potemkin’ had very specific aims, namely crafting a new Russian identity and propelling a Communist message to the West.

None of these films would have featured the spoken word. They relied on strong creative vision, technical expertise and innovation. All words which you will likely find in any LinkedIn job spec for a modern ‘videographer’ or equivalent.

Indeed when it comes to innovation Eisenstein was strapping cameras to individuals to get to the heart of the action nearly eighty years before GoPro facilitated the same concept for every skier, skydiver and speed-freak
on Facebook.

You or your business are also probably a lot closer to Eisenstein
than you realise.

‘Battleship Potemkin’ was propaganda. Many of your marketing videos are, or certainly should be, propagandistic in their objectives, shouldn’t they?

By its non-political definition, ‘Propaganda’ is

“ informationideasopinions, or images, often only giving one part of an argument, that are broadcastpublished, or in some other way spread with the intention of influencingpeople’s opinions

If your video content strategy isn’t delivering information, ideas opinions or images in a one-sided way and you are not then broadcasting, publishing or spreading them with the intention of influencing people’s opinions then you are letting yourself down, your customers down and, most importantly, you’re letting your business down.

Before you close this LinkedIn page and open up your website, YouTube channel or other video platform to check exactly how many of your marketing videos are effectively delivering your propaganda, I will remind you of one critical
underlying principle.

In the vast majority of cases the best marketing videos are not conceived through a technical whizz-kid opening Final Cut Pro or similar software. They start with a pen, at the end of which is a creative mind, or minds, empowered and incentivised to tell a compelling story, regardless of how long or short that story might be.

Words are the foundation of every great story.

Jack Hewitt hadn’t heard any words which caused him to “blame it on the pictures”. Eisenstein used no spoken words when he portrayed his revolution, but words underpinned both.

In editing ‘Battleship Potemkin’, Eisenstein left 28,400 meters of film on the cutting room floor, out of an original 30,000 metres.
I wonder how many pages of screenplay that equated to?

This lead me to my third and final eye-opening discovery of the week.

That 1,600 metres which was the final ‘Battleship Potemkin’ film reel length is also the distance from my front door to the scene of Jack Hewitt’s crime.

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