What Is A Sizzle Reel?

Short and flashy, clear and concise, and above all exciting, sizzle reels are perfect for the age of social media. There are many kinds of sizzle reels including event highlight videosbusiness promos, customer testimonials, and product pitches. Regardless of subject, your sizzle should consist of brief clips of your best content tied together by propulsive music, emphatic sound design, illustrative motion graphics, and informative text. Keep reading to learn how to stand out from the crowd with a sizzle reel that takes full advantage of the medium!

How Long Is A Sizzle Reel?

Attention spans are short, and so are sizzle reels. Most sizzles are between one and two minutes but can be as brief as 30 seconds. If a sizzle is longer, you should also edit a shorter cutdown. Because they’re short, sizzles feel right at home on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube Shorts. In fact, much of TikTok’s popular content is day-in-the-life sizzles, and there’s a reason why Instagram has a whole section called “Instagram Reels.” When your content feels organic to the platform it is on, it’s much more likely to drive engagement, and social media platforms are where you will find the largest audience. 

Sizzles should be visually flashy, even when viewed without sound. Whether the sizzle is being displayed on a social feed, as an ad, or as a banner at the top of a page, you need your sizzle to pop off the screen if you want the viewer to stop scrolling. Of course, this is easier said than done. Here are some tips to wow your audience with visuals alone: 

What Makes A Sizzle Reel Stand Out?

Matthew Mcconaughey charity event highlighted in this successful sizzle
  • Use only the best footage – If a clip does not stand out on its own, cut it from the sizzle. In a world of autoplay, you never know what part of your video a viewer will see first. Don’t leave engagement to chance – take control and only include exciting and attention-grabbing clips.
  • Show unique visuals – Do shots of skydiving, ancient ruins, a trending celebrity, or a beautiful vista make sense in your sizzle? If yes, include them! Our lives are filled with ordinary sights, and it takes the extraordinary to startle your viewer into attention. If you don’t already have such footage, try stock footage – or try capturing the ordinary in a new way. Experiment with different lenses, such as fisheye lenses, and color profiles to make mundane moments memorable. 
  • Invest in high end graphics and bold text – Motion graphics are another great way to stand out. Polished animations immediately increase the perceived production value of your video. They can also be used to communicate complex ideas. Keep your text short, large, and legible. For extra oomph, create eye-catching transitions. 
  • Study success – What platform are you targeting, and what audience? The best research you can do is to watch videos that are successful on your target platform. What do they do right? How do they stand out? And are they leaving gaps your sizzle can fill?

How Can I Tell An Exciting Story With A Sizzle Reel?

How do you communicate your message in just a minute or two? This challenge is a sizzle reel’s greatest strength. By limiting the scope of your video, you are forced to consider what information is essential, and how to convey that information with the greatest clarity. In the end, you’re left with a video that is more impactful and tells a better story. Here are some key factors to consider when building your narrative:

How Do You Build A Great Sizzle Reel Narrative?

  • Choose the right sound bites – Sizzles, such as event highlight videos, are often built around sound bites. But you might have dozens of good quotes to choose from. When selecting sound bites, ask yourself: Is there another quote that says this more concisely or with more emotion? Do these sound bites build upon one another to reveal more information? Are these the most salient points? And can they be illustrated with visuals? 
  • Put them in the right order – This is where skilled editing is essential. Sound bites need to tell a story that builds to a climax. And visuals need the same consideration. Don’t just put your best clips over a music track and call it a day. Find clips that lead into one another, either due to their visual makeup, subject, theme, or movement. Build the intensity of the visuals as the sizzle progresses to an explosive finale. And match the feeling of the clip with the feeling of the music. 
  • Use sound design – Sound design is essential for any video, and is especially impactful in sizzle reels. Because sizzle reels are short, you can dedicate more time to making every second sound amazing. Make sure to select a dynamic music track that matches your brand. Nothing is worse than generic stock music that gets old before the video is done. And add sonic flourishes, such as wooshes, during shot transitions and animations. Bringing these sounds in on the beat is especially effective. With great sound design, you can hone your tone and control the viewer experience.

What Is The Best Way To Use A Sizzle Reel?

Pop superstar Anitta poses with her wax figure in this sizzle reel for Madame Tussauds

Sizzle reels can also be used as pre-rolls for an event or livestream, as promotional videos inside stores, as video billboards, or as condensed product showcases. Regardless of the use case, the same tenets outlined above apply. 

Sizzles are perfect at conveying a lot of information in a short amount of time and providing a great first taste to a viewer who might not be ready for your long-form content. Sizzles act as enticing teasers that funnel viewers to more in-depth content.

At Indigo, we’ve made sizzles for all kinds of companies, and for many different use cases. Sizzles have been some of our most successful videos, garnering millions of viewsIf you are planning on making a sizzle reel, or need a content pipeline ready for viewers enticed by your existing sizzle, feel free to contact us for a free quote. We’ll put our expertise toward delivering the best possible video that fits your needs! 

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