6 Steps for effective video storytelling

Simple is best in a competitive and crucial video environment.

Video reigns supreme as the most important medium today. A great video is all about taking a people on a journey. Where do you want them to go, what do you want them to know and—most importantly—what do you want them to feel? Once you answer those questions, you can make your powerful point at the same time. 

It’s critical to making a connection with audiences in the shortest amount of time, yet more and more, we see the pressure to create that connection driving trite creative decisions. We’d like to argue just the opposite: Capture your true story in a simple, arresting way, and those connections will come honestly.

Here’s how:

1. Have a single point of view.

Beautiful footage isn’t always essential to making a great video. The most critical objective is communicating a singular idea simply and elegantly.

Example: This 15-second social spot by Apple—part of its “Life Is Easier On iPhone” campaign—highlights how and why smartphone users should make the jump to an iOS device.

2. Don’t be afraid to be human. 

Great stories are about people and the impact they have in the world. Audiences will remember how you made them feel even more than they remember what you said.

Example: Whirlpool created the “Sama’s Lunchbox” spot, featuring a young Syrian refugee who takes it upon herself to introduce her Canadian classmates to some of her homeland’s signature dishes. 

3. Break through.

The most important thing about a good video: It’s memorable. If, after the last frame your audience doesn’t remember who you are and what you had to say, then the video hasn’t done its job.

Example: In an overcrowded deodorant market, a new brand called PiperWai told a story about its natural product in a memorable way. We remember what it had to say, and it made us laugh, too.

4. Use fewer words for greater power.

A persuasive video doesn’t always rely on a moving script. Beautiful shots, powerful music and subtle sound design can tell a more compelling story than many hundreds of words.

Example: The dramatic Michael Phelps spot by Under Armour (with a great track from The Kills) inspires viewers by taking them through the swimmer’s intense training process.

5. Inspire an emotional investment.

A compelling video gives existing fans a sense of pride, even ownership. It makes them nod in agreement. And, crucially, it gives them something meaningful to share with others, which recruits new advocates for your cause or loyal fans to your brand.

Example: To share its commitment to equal pay for women, Audi’s “Daughter” spot depicts a young girl as an underdog in a soapbox car race, instantly making the viewer relate and empathize with the cause. 

6. Be true, not fancy.

Some films tend to get tangled up in complete ideas, layered messages and fancy effects. But more is not better, nor does technique outweigh content. The best ideas start with what’s real, then find a unique way to show that story to the world.

Example: This New York Times video about refugees fully embodies the idea of being true and honest with the subject matter and doesn’t worry about being fancy.

 

This article originally appeared on the American Marketing Association blog