Tell More Stories

Stories move people in a way that a plain recitation of the facts do not. Last week we attended a great session at RightOnline about how to use the principles of storytelling to engage your audiences. Patrick Reasonover, of Ozymandias Media, and Clay Broga, of FreeThink Media, led the session, which focused on using stories in video. Here are some points to think about when you are creating content:

• You are more likely to engage an audience successfully by giving them information that they want, not information that you think they need.

• A video doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles if it has a good concept behind it.

• If you use data to make a point, make sure you provide a comparison to something with which people are familiar. A number on its own is not likely to mean much.

• A good metaphor for understanding how stories can motivate people comes from Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis in which he describes the self as like a rider on an elephant. The rider is the rational mind, and the elephant is the unconscious mind that’s really in charge.

• Stories work like a mirror. The brain places the viewer into the story, so that what happens to the characters really happens to the viewer.

• Your audience is always someone specific.

• You create content for people who are not like you.

• Ask yourself: What is the Bambi’s-mom-dies moment in my story?

• Use feedback to assess your own work. Get to the fail: Find the point at which the audience stopped watching and then figure out what went wrong.

• Music is not a substitute for storytelling in a video. Music should support the moment, not define it.

• Appealing to a niche audience doesn’t necessarily mean your story won’t be a hit with a broader audience. That kind of focus can be the key to making the content interesting.