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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.