Three Keys to Good StoryTelling

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royal-quiet-den-typewriter3.JPGStories, stories, stories.

In the end it is all we have, in truth, it is what we crave.

The venue or genre is not important; whether we are writing a book, making a movie, talking to a friend or making a corporate video – we are telling stories.

After reading blogs and talking to people in the corporate video industry, I am under the impression that most are aware of the need to bring storytelling to their video in order to keep it from becoming boring.

Then why, I ask, are so many corporate videos boring?
The answer is that storytelling is a craft, and the reality is that there is good storytelling and bad storytelling.

Here are a few crucial points to focus on to make your video soar rather than snore:

1. Tension

We want the audience to have moments where they say or think something like, “How the heck is he going to pull that off?” or “That’s interesting, but I don’t see the connection” or “If that’s true, she better explain how so”. The narrative of your story must incite the audience to really want an answer. You wouldn’t be in business if you were not offering an answer to some question. Don’t give them an answer until you have generated a field of tension surrounding the question.

2. Unpredictability

Don’t be predictable. Great filmmakers are always one step ahead of the audience. In Werner Herzog’s Rescue Dawn there were many moments when I wasn’t immediately sure what I was looking at due to the camera angle, lighting or just an ambiguous subject. Is that an oddly shaped boulder or a deformed monster or a corpse? Oh I see it’s a boulder. If the narration is about a hammer – show a nail. Keep them guessing as to what is coming next. This technique should not be arbitrary or chaotic; there should be a method to the madness. The unpredictability should be full of suggestion, foreshadowing and recall. Not gimmicky shots and tricks, rather the video should be strategically designed to tell a story in a way that is not predictably sequential. We don’t want to confuse the audience; we want them to be slightly unsure of what’s coming next.

3. Personality

The narrator, whether third person or an interviewee does not have to be eloquent or overly graceful, but they should be charming and endearing if not charismatic. Someone to whom we naturally would want to listen. It can be the slickest production in the land, but if the storyteller (narrator) does not have some type of magnetism which draws us to them, the whole thing will lay flat. (The salesperson sells herself before she can sell her product).

With a friend, I recently watched a documentary which presented the esoteric philosophy of a famous physicist.

The film was aimed at the educated lay. My friend, completely unfamiliar with anything even remotely related to the subject matter didn’t understand the physicist’s message. But he liked the film, even recommended it to his friends. I had to ask, “What did you like?” He liked the physicist. The film had a flow and was well put together he said, but above all he liked the physicist and was willing to sit through two hours of something he didn’t understand because he found the narrator/star of the film captivating. So, make sure your narrator/interviewee is someone to whom we want to listen.

If you can implement these three keys to good storytelling:

  • tension
  • unpredictability
  • personality

…along with a technically proficient sound production, your video will soar– not bore!

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