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How to tell a story with video

10 video storytelling tips from Director Michael Beach

Everyone has a story to tell, but many people don’t know how to tell their story in a way that captivates their audience. What’s the secret to telling a story that stands out? In this blog, Nashville video production Director, Michael Beach of Cumberland Creative, offers 10 tips on creating an effective and impactful marketing video with a compelling story.

1. Be authentic.

Above all else, capture the true essence of the story that needs to be told, not just the story that you think needs to be told. When creating a storytelling video, many fall victim to overplanning-storyboarding every detail before the project ever starts. While this may make for a more efficient process, it leaves little wiggle room for the story to take the shape it wants to take, likely resulting in cookie-cutter content that fails to stand out.

2. Have a plan.

While you want to let the story tell itself, you still need to have some sort of structure to guide the creative process. This pre-production plan can take many forms depending on the unique needs of each project.

As a baseline, we recommend creating a simple narrative arc, separating the full story into chapters. Having these parameters in place gives direction to the project without limiting the story. This way, when it comes time to shoot, you have an idea of what you need to shoot but also have the flexibility to let the story uncover itself.

3. Know why you're telling the story & to whom.

Before ever putting pen to paper, you should first identify the reason you want to tell a story or produce a video. Is it to promote your business? To increase sales of a particular product? To create a brand identity?

It’s easy to get so immersed in the artistic vision of a project that you forget the ultimate goal of the project. Once you identify your goal, stick to it. Throughout the production process, continually ask yourself, “does this decision move me closer to the goal of this project?” If it does, move forward. If not, nix the idea.

4. Know where your story will be seen.

Keeping the audience in mind also means understanding where the audience will be accessing your story. Will they be on social media? Or will they be watching from a different platform? Meet the audience where they’re at with content that fits the channel they’re on. Fitting audience expectations for content delivery will increase the likelihood that your audience will engage with your story.

5. Capture real conversations.

Conversations shouldn’t be scripted when telling an authentic story. Period. Make small talk with your interview subject before putting them in front of the camera and get them talking about something they’re passionate about-even if it’s unrelated to the actual project. The goal here is to remove that “fish out of water” feeling so that when it’s time to shoot, the subject feels and sounds confident.

6. Get the B roll the story calls for.

Similar to illustrations in a picture book, B roll shows what the story is telling its audience. In order for a story to be believable, B roll must truly depict what is being said. For instance, if you’re telling a story about excellent customer service, you should collect B roll that shows excellent customer service in action. This may take more time and planning than say, product footage, however, going the extra mile on B roll enhances the overall authenticity of the story.

7. Leave ego at the door.

Let the best ideas rise to the top even if they aren’t your own. The best stories come from collaboration, input and an evolving product. Rather than trying to preserve your ideas at the expense of the story, be willing to throw out ideas to make room for better ones.

8. Be human.

A story should focus on the human experience. We’ve all seen millions of videos that throw out numbers and statistics, yet they don’t really capture our attention. Why? People connect to people. Focusing on the human condition allows people to form a connection with a story, turning a passive audience into an engaged audience.

9. Get to know your subject.

A story must first be heard to be told. To truly hear a story, you need to invest in getting to know your subject. Make a point to form a relationship with this subject so that you can tell the story of someone you actually know, not someone you think you know. A story will be much more powerful if it has the extra texture of true personality.

10. Don't be afraid to cut.

As a storyteller, you have a responsibility to tell the story as is-even if it means cutting content that you like. Narrow your story down to its bare bones and then fill the gaps with compelling pieces. You may find this painful to do at first, but you’ll find that this practice unveils the authentic story that deserves to be told.

Interested in producing a video for your business?

Contact Cumberland Creative Video Production, Nashville

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