Stories are at the heart of our life and relationships. We tell each other stories on a daily basis, often without realising we are doing it, because they help us make sense of life and convey to people what is important to us.

Stories in a business context are no different. Business comprises a complex series of communications that help get jobs done, and if we want to communicate an important message then it needs to ring loud and clear to be remembered and acted upon.

As storyteller extraordinaire JK Rowling says, ‘there’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.’ That place might be the consumer perspective on a brand, product or service, or the employee’s view of a workplace. Whichever it is, you need to put together your story in the most powerful way you can.

It will be no surprise to those who know us to learn that Plotto believes stories are best told by video, and we’ve talked about this in previous blog posts. But how should you use video footage to create stories that your audience will enjoy watching and remember when they need to apply what they have learned in their work?

Here are the key things we think you should consider when putting together a video story:

1. Keep to the point

Don’t try to fit the entire findings of a research survey into one video. People will be more likely to remember the message if it is strong and meaningful – one or two pertinent points that they can use to make the brand, product, service or workplace better.  

2. Make it short

If you’re conveying one or two key points then the video doesn’t need to be long, just impactful. In a presentation, don’t make any one video more than 60-90 seconds long, and if you are including several videos, you might want to make them even shorter than that. If you are creating a showreel that people will refer back to again and again, try to cap it at 10-15 mins, and include clear sections so that they can easily locate different parts of the video at a later date. 

3. Keep it authentic

Or ‘show, don’t tell’. Watching behaviour is much more compelling than hearing people talk about that behaviour. It’s why Gogglebox is so popular: we are inherently nosy and love watching what other people do. It also helps us identify with what they do, making insights relatable and maximising empathy. Seeing it means we can recall the behaviour easily and remember what it means, too, so that when we are next designing baby wipes/make-up dispensers/the interior of a car, we can bear in mind how people use them and what they need. Inherent in this is that classic ingredient for a compelling story: conflict. Show the problem that needs solving and offer solutions for it (a pack you can open with one hand while you’re changing a baby, for instance).

And we know that what people say they do and what they actually do can be poles apart, so experiencing behaviour first-hand helps us understand subconscious actions and not rely too heavily on a conscious, reasoned account.

4. Be creative with style

You want the first viewing to be engaging, and after that you want it to linger in the viewer’s mind. This might mean borrowing devices from Hollywood blockbusters – the ‘cold open’ of a hard-hitting first scene that creates impact and stirs curiosity – or the deep male ‘movie voice’ for dramatic effect. If you’re wanting to contrast what people actually do with what they say they do, you could use a split screen to good effect.

5. Have a structure

Whether it is starting with the main point followed by supporting clips and then reiterating that main point, or piquing the audience’s interest by using a series of intriguing clips that gradually reveal what the story is, it is important to curate your footage so that it makes sense to the viewer. In longer videos, a very solid beginning, middle and end will help the bigger picture hang together.

In his TED talk ‘The magical science of storytelling’, presentations expert David JP Phillips addresses the importance of creating certain feelings in your audience via the generation of chemicals in the brain.

His ideas around authenticity, structure and style are particularly pertinent to video storytelling: engendering trust in and empathy with the storyteller by releasing oxytocin; using suspense to release dopamine, thereby strengthening the viewer’s focus, motivation and memory; and using humour to release feel-good endorphins, which in turn make a story engaging and memorable.

Plotto is here to help you create your powerful video story. Our showreel tool allows you to pick from video clips across multiple video surveys, and to edit your showreel at any time. Using transcripts, you can quickly locate the clips you would like to include, then once the video showreel is complete you can download it and invite others to see it online. With our help, your audience will be transported to the place you want to take them, and they will be able to revisit it as often as they need to.