How To Tell An Effective Story With Video

What if there was a magic technique to further the engagement and power of your video? 

Simple, yet overlooked, this method motivates, provokes thought, draws emotion and imprints a lasting message on your audience. 

This magic technique is the art of storytelling. Storytelling is powerful when done right. The message of your video can make a much deeper impact when there is a good story to follow.

In recent years, we have heard more and more about a video being the best way to engage a target audience. We have no doubts about the truth of that statement. Science has even backed the sentiment. 

Here are the stats: We process visuals 60,000x faster than we do words and one minute of video equates to approximately 1.8 million words! When talking about results, it's important to note that video based marketing increases leads by 512% and sales by 6x (Source; Forbes). 
These are some staggering numbers, and with stats like this, it’s no wonder that so many brands have incorporated video into their marketing strategies. Whether you’re a B2C or B2B a company, it doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that this video stuff works.  

Okay, so video marketing is an essential tool in today’s business market, but the kicker is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to deliver your product or service to an audience that is willing to listen to what you have to offer. We have become basset hounds for sales pitches, and we can smell one from miles away. Avoid at all costs of making a video that is overt “sales-y.” This is when good storytelling comes in to help.


What Is Storytelling?

I think we all have the concept of what storytelling is, but I believe it’s important to refresh and clarify exactly what we mean by it. Essentially, storytelling is the art of communicating a message in a way that is memorable and entertaining. It’s an emotional and interactive journey that we take with our audience. I like this definition from the National Storytellers Network.  

“Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener's imagination.” 

Why It Is Important.

Everyone loves a good story. A good story is addictive. We binge watch Netflix series because we want to find out what happens next. Good story. Have you ever read a book so good that you can’t put it down? Bam! Good story. See? We love it. So, it makes sense to incorporate that into our video production. Whether it is a Kickstarter video or documentary film, using storytelling will drive your message into the cognition of your audience and leave a footprint on their psyche. 

3 Quick Reasons To Story In Video

  1. Creativity goes a long way. There are no restrictions on how you deliver your message. Think outside the box and find a unique way to craft your message into a story that is easy to understand. 
  2. As humans, we connect to stories emotionally. It’s practically in our DNA! We have passed information down through the ages this way. 
  3. Viewers have an imagination, and they use it to fill in the blanks. Utilize your story by demonstrating how your product or service solves a problem. The cliché saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is very true. Offer the visual and let the viewer create the thousand (or millions?) of words.


9 Ways To Effectively Tell A Story With Video

Tell story with video.


1. Sales Free.

Be very careful that your script isn’t putting on a hard sell. Focus on telling a story that offers information on a subject or describes a problem. Subtly insert your product/service as the useful solution to that problem, more on this later. Be a resource rather than an infomercial! 

2. Show it.

Demonstrate the story of your message, company or product/service with visuals rather than words. Commonly, the default is to lay a narration over every video. Narrate your video through a sequence of shots and allow the viewer to draw conclusions of their own. If the video is about your company, show your business and the people that work there! Use fewer words to describe what you’re about and instead, demonstrate it. Fewer words the better and it is much more efficient. 

3. Be Truthful. 

The audience needs to believe that what’s happening in the story is true; unless of course, it’s a fictitious story than that needs to be made clear. I also like to think of being truthful as being genuine. Show off your personality, as a company and that you believe in the message you’re delivering. The enthusiasm and honesty will speak volumes.  

4. Be Creative. 

Perhaps, easier said than done. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and try something different. It pays to be unique, so brainstorm and experiment with fun and entertaining storylines to package into your message.     

5. Have One Clear Message.

A common mistake is trying to jam as much information as possible into 90 seconds. Do not let this happen to you! Choose one message that you believe is the most important to your company, product/service, etc. 

6. Include Your Audience In The Story. 

Make it relatable! When choosing characters for your story be sure to include your audience by making the characters relatable to them. Having relatable character is when knowing your audience is super important! Reflect their age, where they live, how they live, their typical problems, etc. 

7. Keep It Short And Simple. 

A general rule of thumb is to keep a content marketing video duration to 1-2 min. A crowd funding video can be a bit longer for a length of about 2-3 min before engagement starts to drop off. (source; Wistia Blog). Another thing is simplicity. A simple storyline plays a key factor as well. Run your story idea by several people that have no affiliation with your goals. Do they understand the message on the first watch? If not, it’s time for revisions. Unbiased feedback is some of the most valuable feedback you can get. 

8. Structure Your Story Properly. 

Every story is built around three simple principles: A beginning, middle and end. 

  • Beginning: Characters are introduced and establishing shots made. 

  • Middle: Introduction of conflict. 

  • End: Resolution of conflict. 

Depending on the video, a fourth section could be a ‘call to action.' 

9. Draft Your Script Multiple Times. 

Re-work the script multiple times to shave off the filler words and redundancies. Always challenge yourself to how you can say the same thing in fewer words.  It may be tedious, but it’s very necessary! Boiling down all your thoughts into a 1-2 min video isn’t easy, but the only way to get there is by editing, editing, and editing. Keep the show it and not tell it point in mind when working on the script. 


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