Show, Don’t Tell.

When it comes to video, should your business be talking less and saying more?

If we were to meet, and you had one minute to tell me about yourself, what would you say? There’s a lot to tell, and not much time to tell it. What do you keep in and what do you leave out? It’s a hard question, and it tends to dominate our thinking when it comes to promoting a business. It’s well known that attention spans are short, and we often have very little time to grab our audience’s attention before they’ve moved on.

But with video, we have a distinct advantage, we can use visuals, sound and the spoken word to engage the viewer. But a lot of businesses don’t use these formats effectively. The key to getting this engagement is understanding how the audience thinks.

We, as human beings love solving puzzles, interpreting clues, and deducing information. So, in order to take advantage of these other forms of communication we need to engage our audience’s deductive reasoning. Andrew Stanton, writer and director and Pixar, calls this the unifying theory of two plus two. When writing Finding Nemo, he and his writing partner formed the theory that people want to work for their meal, they just don’t realise it. And so, to tie into our innate desire to problem solve, you don’t give the audience four, you give them two plus two. By doing this, the audience is actively engaging with the information by slotting in that last puzzle piece.

This doesn’t mean your whole video needs to be an Agatha Christie style whodunnit, the ‘two plus two’ approach can be used subtly and frequently to sow seeds of connection between you and your audience. For example, let’s say you run an international logistics company, and you want a video to establish your company as well organised, professional and reliable. You can have the CEO saying these very words to camera, but because the audience isn’t having to work to reach this conclusion, that’s all they are, words. And it’s more than likely that they will forget them almost as soon as they’ve been uttered.

Instead, if your CEO talks about the core principles of the business, we are hearing things are more abstract but speak to the heart of the business. Meanwhile, we are seeing visuals that convey the key selling points of the business set out earlier. We see a communications room, staff with headsets and computer screens, a busy yard loading and unloading vehicles, multiple vehicles driving across the country. This is your two plus two, and the answer? This company is well organised. We see a fleet of clean branded vehicles leaving a depot, uniformed employees showing attention to detail. These are professionals. We see maps, we hear ticking clocks and see goods lists being checked off. This company is reliable.

By not spelling it out completely, and just using sound and visuals, the viewer is drawing their own conclusions about this company, and those impressions have a much better chance of imprinting and forming their opinion. It also makes these elements a fact, and not a sell. They already exist, and instead they want to talk to you about why they are in business.

So when you think about making a video for your business, don’t just tell the viewer who you are, but show them.

If you want to find out more, get in touch with our team.

Contributed to by Alex at Box River Studios.