How Long Should a Demo Reel Be to Keep Viewers’ Attention

Creating videos or demo reels to promote your profession or business is a good strategy. But how long should a demo reel be to keep the viewers engaged? At which point will your target market start to lose interest?

As a freelancer, you must have an excellent marketing strategy. That means selling your product or services in whatever way and means. And it has to be creative and unique for it to stand out. Remember, the freelance industry is booming. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of competitors out there.

Demonstrating your product or service through videos is one good marketing tactic. It is creative, fun, and appeals to everybody. Plus, there are hundreds of easy video editing apps available to use! But wait, hold on. Don’t rush it because, like any other marketing plan, there is a good and bad ways of executing this. Read on to understand how demo reels contribute to your business and how to do it—the smart way.

What is a Demo Reel?

old video reel

A demo reel is a video composed of a compilation of several shorter clips created to promote one’s product, talent, or service. Those involved in the performing arts, such as actors, singers, directors, or cinematographers, often use demo reels to present their talent. And now, with the strong influence of social media on consumers, demo reels are also published to showcase products. Freelancers belonging to other industries are also being creative by making demo reels of their services.

Demo reels serve as your product’s teaser. A short advertisement showcasing the best features of your product. If you are offering services or belong to the creative industry, your reel serves as your portfolio.

Tips for Creating Stand-Out Demo Reels

video editing screen on computer

The purpose of a demo reel is simple: to get your potential client to engage. They may not buy or hire you right away, but the reel should make them intrigued enough to know more. Your demo reel must make them curious about your product; spark interest. Or be excited about your projects. It should make your viewer want to know more about you. So, here are a few tips that can guide you when you create a demo reel:

  • Keep it short and stunning. As a rule of thumb, demo reels should be short. But that doesn’t mean it has to be plain and effortless. Short videos can be stunning. Challenge yourself to create a video that can capture your potential client’s interest in the shortest amount of time.
  • Showcase your best works. Just like in creating a regular portfolio, you do not need to put in all your work. Instead, choose the best ones, the ones that will stand out. Remember, you only have a limited time, so make the most out of it.
  • Own it (do not feature other people’s works). Some freelancers make the mistake of including other people’s work, like from a collaboration or partnership. It would be best if you could avoid this. This is your time to shine. The floor is yours and yours only!
  • Pick the right music (consider copyright). The music sets the mood and pace of the video. Pick the genre that best suits your personality and your business’ identity. Do not forget that some music or audio effects are licensed and copyrighted. Be careful about this.
  • Match clips with the beat of the music. Nothing is more annoying than an unsynced video. Make sure that when editing your clips, the rhythm of the music matches the transitions.
  • Don’t forget to add your contacts and links. Remember that your demo reel is also your portfolio. So, make sure that you brand it. If you have a logo, add your logo. Your contacts and links are an important inclusion so that interested clients can contact you right away.
  • Familiarize yourself with aspect ratios. If you are creating a reel intended for multiple platform use, make sure that you know the correct aspect ratios of these platforms for a smooth and seamless video.
  • Know your video file formats. Make sure to use universally accepted file formats. For example, if you sent an audition demo reel and it did not automatically play for your agent, you will probably not get the part. Remember, your customer or client will not make an effort to download an app just so they can watch your demo reel.

How Long Should a Demo Reel Be?

stopwatches, a computer keyboard and a laptop

Do you ever find yourself checking out the running time of a clip before clicking on it? Most people do. And if they see that it is a long video, say, three minutes and more, chances are they are not going to watch it and just keep on scrolling.

Or, once a video ad pops out from your screen, do you hover to see how long the video is?

Research shows that the human attention span is continuously decreasing. This is an important element to take into account when planning for a demo reel. An ideal reel is about two minutes long. But you have to keep in mind, and really take note of this: that no matter how short or long your video is, the first thirty seconds is actually the most crucial part. This means you have to make your reel’s first thirty seconds engaging and jaw-dropping to keep viewers from scrolling up.

There are several factors to consider when deciding how long should a demo reel be. You must consider the purpose of your reel and the platform to which it will be published.

For instance, if you are creating a demo reel that will serve as your audition tape for an acting job or want to start a voice acting gig, then you may go a little over two minutes. Think of stitching around four forty-second clips showcasing your different types of acting or singing skill.

If you are making a demo reel to promote a product or service, then try to limit the length to one minute. Think of the TV ads that are shown. These are typically just thirty-seconder videos, yet the message was clearly delivered. A thoroughly laid out demo reel can also be this effective.

The platform to which you will publish your demo reel also matters. Audition reels are usually sent via email or a USB. If this is the case, then it is okay to have a reel longer than two minutes. The same goes if you will be posting it on your website.

If you will be posting a demo reel through social media platforms or job boards, then you should shorten your video to make sure that the site accepts your file. In this situation, make sure that your video content is still stunning despite having a limited length of time.


Stopwatch with swirl background

What this technology-driven world gives you is an opportunity to sell better, and faster. Especially now that there are a lot of free and easy-to-use video editing tools. Some even have a simple drag-and-drop feature. You do not need to hire a professional video editor anymore.

Demo reels are excellent selling tools. In this digital age, most people are more inclined to watch videos than read promotional materials. Everybody tends to be appreciating visual communication more. So, creating your own demo reel, either for your product or service, is definitely a good move.

Having the right strategy for creating your demo reel is a bonus. You do not just make a video of yourself and discuss your product. Let the tips guide you. And now that you know how long should a demo reel be, you can create your own stunning video!

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