The end result of your videos is only limited to what you want to say and how you want to say it. If you’re all about being off-the-cuff and don’t concern yourself with rehearsals or having a polished final video, hit “record” on your phone or computer and go at it. For those who need more than one-take -- or in our case, dozens of takes -- write out notes of what you want to cover to keep it tight and meaningful.
Treat each video or audio recording like a wedding toast. People might tune it out if it rambles on too long and reading directly from a page might sound too rehearsed, or worse, come across like you’ve been taken hostage.
Keep your notes handy for structure -- as well as any props like photos you want to hold up or other items to illustrate a point -- and be yourself. The purpose of this video is to provide comfort. If you find yourself getting too emotional and worry that the video may upset the person you’re trying to help come to terms with their grief, take a break and come back in an hour when your thoughts might be more settled.
Here’s a template for your outline if you were leaving a video for one of your children:
Video Notes For [Son/Daughter]
Intro: Hi [NAME OR NICKNAME], I wanted you to know how [much I love you | much you mean to me | you’ve always been my world].
Story 1: Best first memory
Story 2: Something funny or endearing they did while growing up
Story 3: How proud you are of their accomplishments
Winding it down: Final story illustrating your love and/or any lessons or advice you’d like to impart.
Final Farewell: Try and hold it together and end with a message like “You won’t have to miss me because I’ll always be with you.”
Don’t over-explain why you’re making the video. This isn’t a spy movie where the video starts with something like: “If you’re watching this video it means I’ve been taken prisoner!” You can do that if it fits your sense of humor, but assume the person is well aware that this is your way of saying goodbye in the best possible way.
Once you’re happy with the video you’ll want to be certain it gets to the right people. Unlike writing Legacy Letters, you can’t put a video in an envelope and hand it to the person. Here are three solutions assuming you’re downloading or uploading it from your phone and storing it somewhere else:
Create an easy to find folder on your desktop (example: “Videos From Me To The Family”), change the name of each video file to the name of the person who should receive it (“Joe-From-Mom.mp4), and include instructions with the rest of your Digital Estate details we covered in a separate task (Example: “Please make sure each video gets to the right place”).
You can also keep it in the cloud included among photos, documents, and other digital assets you share with your family or digital executor. It’s just like having it on your desktop only easier to share.
If you decide to leave the videos on your phone, mention the existence of them as part of your Digital Estate or Letter of Instructions so they aren’t ignored or accidentally deleted. Example: “I recorded a bunch of videos on my phone for everyone, please send them to the right people.”
If you don’t want to leave a video you can also record audio messages on your phone too. Treat it the same way.
Create a list of people you’d like to receive a video and start making notes. If you want to write letters as well, you can pair these two together and get them both done at the same time. Whatever method you choose -- words, audio, video, or a combination of all three -- it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be something they’ll treasure for the rest of their lives. But, no pressure. You can handle it.