Telling your story well, when less is more

 

How can less be more, especially when it comes to telling your story? When we have an opportunity to tell our story, often times we include too much information. We want to include the most minute details and highlight what is interesting to us. Being succinct is an art, especially when it involves something that you are passionate about. So how do tell your story well, with less?

 

1.  Try to forget what you know

Well, okay not everything but most of it. When we are passionate about something, we learn more about it and the breadth of our knowledge can be expansive and sometimes boring. Because we’ve worked hard to learn something, it becomes difficult to imagine not knowing it. As a result, we can become poor storytellers. In the book Made To Stick, Chip and Dan Heath call this “The Curse of Knowledge.” They sum it this way:

Think of a lawyer who can’t give you a straight, comprehensible answer to a legal question. His vast knowledge and experience renders him unable to fathom how little you know. So when he talks to you, he talks in abstractions that you can’t follow. And we’re all like the lawyer in our own domain of expertise.

 You don’t want to overwhelm your listeners with your knowledge, you’re helping them understand.

2. Get back to the basics

To be free of the Curse of Knowledge you have to think like a non-expert. Think back to when you were first learning, you started with the broad concepts. Remember what it was like to be a non-expert and use that as your framework to structure your story telling. With the basics in mind you can then adjust your video accordingly to your audience.

 

3. Stay on topic

A story that wanders all over is not a story that will hold someone’s attention. Once you’ve found the subject of your video, be willing to make the hard decision to leave some material out. The scope of your video won’t allow for everything. Choosing one or two key ideas also helps to bring out the best during interviews.

 

4. Be Succinct

What’s the best length for my video? As short as possible and it depends. Wistia, a video hosting site (more about them later) does extensive analytics of how people interact with video. Check out this chart from Wistia.

length-matters-1
The longer your video, the less likely it will be watched all the way through. Your video needs to be long enough to convey your message and not much longer. Remember you don’t have a captive audience and there are tons of cat videos online.

This short, and certainly not exhaustive, list of suggestions can help you to cut through the “more” of wanting to include everything in your video. But when you’ve taken the time to hone the story and get down to the heart of the message, you’ll end up with a video that says more.