When you’re producing a video that promotes your incredible work, we believe that it’s best to find someone else to tell the story. That’s right – it’s time for your executive team and program managers to take a back seat, while someone else has the opportunity to share their journey.
Why? Well, many people have become desensitised to the ‘corporate video’ – they will see it on social media and scroll past it. An executive reading a script (that someone else wrote) just won’t be as inspiring as a real person sharing their personal story of hope and resilience.
You see, corporate videos will always have a time and a place (eg. describing the details of a program, articulating complex information or delivering a company message), but they shouldn’t be the 'go-to' option for your video content strategy. Effective video content is all about engaging your audience and making them feel something.
But, how do you find the right story to do this?
TYPES OF STORIES
There are many types of stories to tell, and it all comes back to your purpose and audience. If you haven’t considered these yet, you can read about our previous article about the first steps of social impact storytelling here.
The types of stories that you could share include staff members, volunteers, donors, or people who have benefitted from your organisation’s work.
It’s always useful to think about how your audience will respond to the story. Are they a donor who would like to learn about the reasons other people have chosen to donate in the past? Are they someone who would like to see the tangible ways that your organisation is changing or saving lives? Are they a staff member who would like to know whether your organisation has an inclusive culture?
BUILDING A SHORTLIST
Once you have identified the type of story to tell, it’s time to start building a short list of participants. In our experience, it’s always best to find more people than you need (as it gives you more freedom to choose the perfect story, and a few extra options if someone drops out during the process).
The best approach to building a shortlist is asking people within your organisation about potential participants for the project. These colleagues could include the media team, program managers, case workers, the fundraising team, or anyone else that may know where to uncover the stories that you’re after. They may have recommendations off the top of their head, or they can help you to reach people with a call-out.
It’s important to provide your colleagues with detailed information about the project before they approach potential participants. Transparency is key to building trust, so you want people to know about the project before they express interest. The information that you provide could include the purpose of the video, where the video will be shown, the expected time commitment, examples of similar videos, and a promise to present their story in a positive and dignified way. This information may persuade your colleagues to help you out, as some people can be less willing to put people forward for a project that they know nothing about.
CHOOSING THE PERFECT STORY
After you have managed to accumulate a small treasure trove of stories, it’s time to choose which one(s) will be used in the video project. There’s a few things that you’ll need to keep in mind.
The first, and most obvious, thing to consider is the person's story. Is it relevant to the purpose of the video project? Will it communicate your desired message? Is it engaging for the audience?
One way to analyse a person's story is to look for 'catalysts', or events that have impacted their life. Was there an event that made their life more difficult? Was there an event that made their life better (ie. discovering your organisation)? You're looking for moments in time when their life has changed for better or for worse, so that the audience can understand how they have grown along the way (which makes for a better story).
Consider the demographic that is most relevant to the video project’s purpose and audience by asking yourself a couple of quick questions:
- Do you want to give voice to an individual from a marginalised community?
- Do you want to find someone who reflects the demographic of the audience, so they can directly relate to their story?
- Do you want to find someone who fits the profile of the ’type of story’ that they are representing (ie. the majority of your donors, volunteers, customers, or clients)?
If you’re telling more than one story, it’s always best to include people with varied cultural backgrounds, gender identities, abilities and lived experiences to ensure that you have diverse representation.
Visual storytelling is primarily a verbal medium, so it’s important to make sure that you find someone who is comfortable sharing their story. Although many video production companies (like us at Momentary) can make everyone appear comfortable and articulate through the magic of editing, the video production process will always benefit from someone who can share their story with clarity and confidence. A simple test is to have a conversation over the phone and ask them a few practice questions to learn about their story - this will give you an idea about how well they can articulate their experiences. If someone is more comfortable sharing their story in a non-English language, then it might be time to bring in a translator.
When you’re choosing a story to tell, it can be easy to forget what the story will look like. Although the strength of the person's story is essential, it’s always important to consider how the video will be visually engaging for the audience. For example, if you want to illustrate the impact of an inclusive employment program – you may want to choose someone who works outdoors completing hands-on activities, rather than someone that works in an office cubicle.
It can be useful to consider the relevant locations that will be featured in the video, and the activities that the person will be doing. This isn’t the be-all and end-all (as a talented cinematographer can make anything look beautiful), but it’s certainly something to consider.
This is the most important thing when it comes to choosing the right person to share their story. If someone decides to take part in a project begrudgingly or they feel like they have no choice, then the quality of the video will be affected.
It’s best to find someone who is eager to be involved in the project, as they believe their involvement will help the organisation or the community in some way, or they just want to give back.
As I mentioned earlier, you need to be transparent about the project from the get-go. You can’t guage whether someone is willing to participate if they don’t understand what will be involved - always provide people with the necessary information, and see if they're keen get on board.
Once you've chosen the perfect story to tell, it's time to start collaborating with the participant (as well as your ideal video production company) to plan how the story will come together!
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