5 Things to Focus on When Storytelling for Video

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Scripting is the hardest part of the video marketing journey to get right and unfortunately the part you need to nail for the rest to fall into place. The rest being: Shooting, editing, distribution, and the desired outcome, like customer awareness, engagement, or conversion.

I’ve written a lot about storytelling in general and what to look out for when crafting your message, but today I want to focus on Storytelling for video.

I asked my friend, playwright, and corporate scriptwriter Joni Fritz about what she focuses on when writing for corporate video over rather than writing for print, a speech, or (her passion) a play:

“Print and video are definitely two different animals.  I find when I’m writing narration for video, my sentences are shorter and more dramatic. I get to the point faster. I read everything aloud to make sure it flows off my tongue easily. Print can be easier and free-flowing. Longer sentences with more description. With video, I’m always trying to make things sharp and concise.”

I find the hardest part of writing for video to be finding the balance between telling a compelling story and keeping it moving. I like to embellish and when I’m talking to someone in person I can lengthen or shorten a story as needed, taking cues from my listener’s body language.

With video, you’re hoping for that captive audience hanging off your every word, but you have no feedback loop.

I tend to err on the side of super short, then again, I also edit my own pieces and after the umpteenth time looking at and hearing the same thing I just want to cut it all…

Over the past year, I’ve looked a hundreds and hundreds of videos produced by fellow small business owners and “internet sensations” and what the good videos have in common isn’t that they are perfectly produced, but rather a sense of authenticity. That is, they display energy, personality, sincerity, and a value proposition that resonates.

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When you go for personality there will be those who are attracted by your (video) personality, and those who will not.

But those in your audience who like you will really connect with you and your story and that’s what creates awareness, engagement, and ultimately converts them to customers.

The worst choice is, to play it safe and consequently be bland and then no-one really cares. At that point, why bother with video?

I hear, that when Gary Vee speaks, some people just roll their eyes and others soak up every word he utters.

He has a distinct style. Take it or leave it, but he is himself and he gives valuable information with each piece of communication he puts out. He has a huge following. Why? He puts out great value with each piece of communication AND he’s got a personality to boot.

Then there’s the incomparable Casey Neistat, filmmaker and YouTube sensation. Casey’s Vlog often exposes injustices, his videos are, fun, messy, and – although casual on the surface – very well produced. He’s real, authentic, energetic, and mesmerizing to watch.

But, not everybody has a bubbly personality. Some quieter voices, like Roberto Blake will appeal to a different set of viewers and maybe at a different scale, but they are still out there and getting traction. I like that Roberto offers reliable, and solid advice on all things digital creation. He has a consistent, quiet but engaging way of roping you into his world. And his channel is growing by the day.

Bottom line: Find YOUR voice, be friendly, and don’t forget to smile!

So, since we’re at it – keep these 5 points in mind when planning and writing your video copy:

  1. Create VALUE with each communication you put out there
  1. Even if your video isn’t “teaching” something, make sure your video has depth and resonance. Give your viewers a chance to connect with you and what you stand for (or sell)
  1. Be clear who your audience is: Storytelling should lead to a single goal; which is yours?
    • Are you introducing yourself and your motivation for what you do?
    • Are you offering a special and talking about why the time to act is now?
    • Are you explaining a new feature or product and why it is superior?
  1. Plan to your strengths – I have a writer friend Michael Katz, who insists on doing screen-recordings and voice-over. That’s his thing. I think he would look great on-camera, but he’s chosen that style because it plays to his strengths and admittedly, he does have a great voice.

For me, I’m a talker and I don’t mind being in front of the camera: And I produce my own footage without help, so I stick to talking-head videos and simple graphics (for now).

  1. I’ll never stop reminding you: Keep it short!

Here some inspiration beyond talking head videos:

  • Upgrade to 1st class documented by Casey Neistat: https://youtu.be/84WIaK3bl_s – Hysterical: And don’t be fooled – it’s expertly shot and edited

  • Liz Benny: https://youtu.be/KdDmamHTd9Y – DIY, super easy to reproduce. Just images, footage, music (although way too loud), graphics: “KAPOW” as Liz would say:

CURATED LINK PACK:

  1. For good content to resonate, it needs to have depth, value and specificity and be supported by the right social media platform. Gary Vee asks: “What’s going on in the world you’re trying to be a part of? How can you insert yourself into the conversation?” https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/one-piece-of-content-can-change-your-life/
  2. Writer, director, and master storyteller Andrew Stanton of Pixar Studios (Toy Story, WALL-E) examines in his TED talk the power of a great story. Listen to it and be inspired: https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_stanton_the_clues_to_a_great_story/transcript?language=en
  3. Wistia makes a case for psychological tactics to catch and keep your audiences eye. It also includes useful examples of brands using those tactics: https://wistia.com/blog/using-psychology-for-video
  4. This Moz blog post is one of the best I’ve read so far on storytelling – no matter if the author focuses on web copy: It applies to video too: | Storytelling 301: Site Content as Story https://moz.com/blog/storytelling-site-content