Faith In Action

On very few occasions do I find myself stuck somewhere without the ability to hop into my car and head to store or run an errand. I rarely give thought to the fact that I am rather mobile. But in every town there is a segment of the population that isn’t as mobile.

Faith in Action helps to fill that gap for those who do not have their own transportation. Part of Faith in Action’s mission is to provide rides for adults over 60 to and from the doctor’s office, the grocery or other locations they need to go. Transportation is only part of their mission, they also arrange for volunteers to call and to visit those that are homebound.

Around Thanksgiving, Faith in Action contacted me to produce a video that told the stories of both volunteers and care receivers. So we identified 3 volunteers and 3 care receivers and made arrangements to have them tell their stories.

Video Hosting

Sooner or later you’re going to ask this question, “Where should I host my videos?” This is the $64k question. Fortunately, there are more options than ever before but how do you decide which one to use?

1. To Pay or Not to pay, that is the first question.

We are all concerned about the bottom line and free can be very appealing. We’ve all used YouTube and it is the juggernaut of internet video. The only search engine bigger is Google, so you’ve got that going for you. But your video is mixed in with cat videos, Miley Cyrus twerking and even your competitor’s videos.  I am not anti-YouTube, I love a good cat video and I think that there are times when it is the right choice for your organization.
Investing in hosting, though, opens opportunities that a free hosting service doesn’t.

2. Advantages of Investing in a hosting service

There are a ton of hosting services available for your organization, Vimeo, Brightcove, Wistia, Vzaar are just a couple that spring to mind. (I won’t take the time to offer thoughts on each one individually in this article).  Here are things that I look for to evaluate a hosting service.
– Branding & Customization – Can the player be customized with brand identifiers, like a logo and colors? When a video is embedded in your website, you want it to look like it belongs there.
– Analytics – This is a biggie, you want to know how people are interacting with your videos. How of the video are they watching?
– Email Integration – If you send emails out or want to, some hosting services offer embedding integration with services such as Mailchimp. If emailing your videos is a part of your strategy, you definitely want to look into this component. There are even some video services that cater specifically and only to email like Bomb-Bomb.
– Playback – For me a critical component that a hosting service needs to provide is fast and smooth playback. Anytime that I have to wait on a video to load or it pauses to buffer, I’m more than likely done watching that video, I bet you do it too. When the play button is hit, the video needs to play and play smoothly all the way through.

3. Not all hosting services are created equal

Yep, it’s true, there are benefits and drawbacks to hosting service you find. I don’t know that there is the one perfect video hosting service out there, but there are some great ones. Take some time and make a list of the important things to your video strategy and let them help you pick the service that is right for you.

Video Analytics

Watching the number of views of your video tick upward is exciting. Afterall, when you produce a video, the point is for people to watch it.  Basic info like number of views and subscribers is good, but do they give you enough information to evaluate how effective your video is?

1. Beyond the basics

Basic information is just that, basic. It doesn’t really help you make better videos. Let’s say that you create a video and it gets 500 views. Is that video a success? Some of you may say yes others would be less than impressed with that number. Did all 500 people watch the video all the way through or did they stop after the first 15 seconds? Did they rewatch any part of the video? Did they skip any sections? Analytics help get beyond the basics and lets you seehow people watch your video.

2. The information

I use Wistia for my video hosting service. Beyond just hosting my videos, Wistia’s video analytics tools provide great insight to how people interact with each video. Beyond just the number of watches, these anayltics show how long people watched, where each individual stopped watching, and if they watched more than once. You get an overall graph for engagement with the video as well as individual heat maps. Each viewer creates a heatmap where you can see how they watched the video.


3. Digging into the information

If we were international spies, like James Bond or Austin Powers, we’d call this information actionable intellegence. It’s the information that guides what you need to do to make your videos better.

I produced a series of short videos where the client wanted a contact slide at the end of each video. We were pleased with the number of people that viewed the videos based on expectation. As we looked at the data, it was clear that though viewers watched most of the videos, they stopped watching when the info screen came up. Using the analytics we adjusted how the contact information was presented and viewers became engaged throughout the whole video.

Taking the time to use and understand analytics is key to creating effective videos. We all want to tell our story well and analytics help us to be better storytellers.

CHCC Testimonial

I’ve had the opportunity to produce several videos for the Community Health Care Clinic. I am always amazed by their work and how much of an impact that they have on our community. Even with the recent reforms in health care, there are thousands of people in and around Bloomington-Normal that cannot afford health insurance. That’s were the CHCC comes in to help serve those that otherwise would not have an option for health care. Most recently, we produced a patient story that CHCC could show to their supporters.

Storytelling tools: Listening

Storytelling through video is a powerful tool for your organization. Your stories can motivate and influence your donor base, develop new volunteers, open customer markets and much more. But from where do these stories come? Actually, stories exist everywhere within your organization, you just need to be intentional about hearing them.

Listening for stories is a practice

Story listening really isn’t an art, you just have to practice doing it. Take time to pay attention to what is happening around you. Maybe your organization has a culture of sending out update emails about successes. Perhaps you gather your staff regularly to share experiences. There really isn’t a formula for what makes up a story, it can be short and anecdotal or long an narrative.

Take Notes

As I am listening for stories around me, I try to keep a list of them. I either make note of them in Evernote or in a small notebook that is generally nearby. With the note, I’ll jot down what I find interesting about that particular story and where it could be told again. You might find that you have a collection of small stories that can be brought together to tell a greater story.

Things to listen for

Regardless of what you do, there are a couple of things that are beneficial to listen for. Stillmotion, filmmakers and storytellers from Portland, have named them the 4 P’s: People : Who is in the story? Who will captivate your viewers? Place: Where does the story happen? What do your locations add to your characters or story? Plot: What is the conflict and what is the journey? Purpose: Why would this story be good to tell? Why should others care?

From listening to telling

As you listen to the stories that surround you, you’ll want to move from listening to telling. Having spent the time to intentionally listen to the stories that surround you, you will be better prepared to tell the right story when the time comes.

Community Health Care Clinic

One of the great joys of helping to tell stories through video is when I have the opportunity to partner with an organization like the Community Health Care Clinic.  I’ve had the opportunity to work with the CHCC several times now and am always amazed by what they do. Through volunteers, donors and doctors, the CHCC helps meet the needs of the medically underserved population of McLean county through the operation of a free medical clinic.

I met John at his downtown studio where he was surrounded by easels and tables filled with brushes and pastel paints. While I was capturing some footage of him working we talked about his artistic influences and what drove him as an artist. When we sat for the interview portion of the video, John told me about how he came to the CHCC when he discovered that he had stage III cancer but no insurance to cover treatments. Fortunately, it is a story that ends happily.

Amazingly, John’s story isn’t unique.  Every day lives are made better because of the work of the Community Health Care Clinic.

You can find out more about the clinic here

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.

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.

Telling stories matters and how it can help your business

Since the dawn of time, people have used stories to communicate with one another. Whether you realize it or not you tell stories all day long. You narrate a story to your co-workers about what you did over the weekend, you tell your children about walking uphill in the snow to get to and from school, we recount the amazing play from last night’s game.  Stories are how we build connections with one another. We think of our lives as a story. Everyday there are countless little events that comprise what we experience. Story becomes the structure by which we organize all of those events.

When a story is told well, it captivates us and often times we end up sharing it with others.  In fact we love to share stories. One of my favorite things to do is to go fishing for northern pike in Canada with a group of friends. If there is a group of people that love to tell stories, it’s fishermen. Our last trip was truly spectacular, the weather, lodging and the fishing were all amazing (I promise this isn’t a fish story).  Every night we would sit around the dinner table recounting the fish we caught with great detail.  We listened to find out what was working to catch fish and where we might find them.

Your customers do the same thing, they listen and look for what will meet their particular need. Salespeople relate stories of how a product works all the time.  And as content marketing and social media marketing continue to rise and develop, story telling becomes even more crucial to marketing your brand and growing your business. Being intentional about telling stories has never been more important. More than just telling stories, video brings the story to life showing the actual people and products in action. Having a customer or client give a testimony is a powerful way to grow your brand.

This is Broadleaf’s specialty, helping identify and bring to life the stories of your work to help grow your brand. Contact us if you would like to find out how we can help grow your business.