3 Simple Steps to Awesome Video Storytelling

What are the 3 essential steps to good video storytelling? And which one do you think is the #1 thing that most people completely miss?

Hopefully, I’ve just modeled the first basic step to good video storytelling which is…

1. Grab your audience’s attention

You’ve only got 10 seconds to grab people’s attention – so give them a challenge, ask them a question or just share something you’re curious about – and, hopefully, they’ll be curious about too.

Basically, you’re selling them, you’re convincing them, to watch the rest of your video.

2. Give them your story

Step number two is to give them the content you promised at the start. In this case you want to tell your story. And your story wants to be about the challenge that you described and the struggle that it takes to overcome that challenge. Talk about struggle. Talk about pain. Talk about the people in your audience that you’re talking to and their struggle and the kinds of things that they need to do to overcome this challenge. Those kinds of solutions will be very helpful for them and they’ll see that as high value.

3. Galvanize with a call to action – at the end of your video.

This is the one thing that many people completely miss when they’re working with video. When they tell a story on video, they don’t think to give a good strong call to action at the end. So don’t miss this essential step.

I’m going to give you a call to action which is: join my Facebook group where you can learn more strategies of how to tell your story in a way that will attract new people to come into your business and into your world.

Video Notes:

This video is part of an ongoing experiment in smartphone video production. It was shot on my iphone using just the selfie camera. For sound I was using the earbuds mike that came with the phone (held in my left hand close to me but out of the shot). If you have any comments or questions about this video please leave your comments on my Facebook group here:



How to use jump cuts to make your videos awesome

When are jump cuts good and when are they bad?

The video above, made with my daughter, fully embraces jump cuts (yes, we’re jumping!) The camera angle is fixed and the goal was to shorten the sequence of us moving up the stairs. I wanted to use this video on Instagram – only 15 seconds – which meant the original footage of the two of us jumping up the entire flight of stairs was far too long.

But, jump cuts can be abrupt. They can be jarring. They can be obnoxious.

Wondering just exactly what a jump cut is?

As the video below demonstrates, shot by the Vimeo Video School, they are not always a good thing.

“A jump cut is a cut in film editing in which two sequential shots of the same subject are taken from camera positions that vary only slightly.” (Thank you Wikipedia!)

You create jump cuts when you cut between two sections of footage shot from the same exact camera angle – for example in a live interview with a talking head. And when they come across as too abrupt and jarring they call attention to your video making process and draw your viewer away from the story you’re telling which is very, (very) bad.

You can easily avoid a (bad) jump cut. The easiest method is to cut between close-ups, medium, and wide shots. Or cut back and forth between your interview subject and B-roll footage – or shoot your subject from two angles and cut back and forth between the two viewpoints.

But what if you love jump cuts?

I may be dating myself, but who can forget that jump cut from the start of 2001 A Space Oddyssey when the ape throws a bone in the air and the scene jumps to a shot of a (bone shaped) space station orbiting the earth? Or the rivetting jump cuts from Run Lola Run? (OK, I’ll admit it, I really liked watching actress Franka Potente run down the streets of Berlin.)

When should you use jump cuts?

Jump cuts are great for showing the passing of time, or to speed up a sequence or to add comedy.

A great example is this ‘Coasting’ video, below, produced for Brahma by videographer Allen Martinez, which uses jump cuts to great effect. (also shot on stairs)

Note the rider’s-eye view sequence (that starts 10 seconds in) once the subject on the scooter descends a long flight of stairs in one of Rio’s favelas.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed creating it for you.

If you’re online and you’re reading this, then you must be serious about using video for your business, so you’re probably going to want to take a look my FREE guide: the Top 10 Secrets to Attracting Clients with Video

Learn how to attract clients with Awesome Videos even if you have
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and you think you have a face for radio…

The 10 Top Secrets to Attracting Clients with Video guide is FREE >

How to introduce yourself on video so that it matters

When you introduce yourself & your work do you make people feel like they’re back in high school?

Did you find high school painful? When you were a student would you have been in favor of abolishing your school? (yes, I would’ve)

My own high school years were not pretty. I went to what was supposed to be the finest high school in the country. Phillips Andover Academy. At least that was the myth. In reality the place felt like it was doing its best to drive a bunch of round pegs through square holes. (If you’ve seen the film, Dead Poets Society, then you have some sense of the atmosphere).

In the worst of my classes, the teaching (read: lecturing) was a one-way street. Unless you were called on, there was no engagement. Spontaneity was frowned on. We were placed in required seats, in rows, and made to be mostly passive consumers of required subjects. While having to sit through seemingly endless lectures I recall thinking, “I could find a better way to teach than this – and do a better job than these guys.” (note: when I was a student at Andover, the school was all male, and the teachers were all guys – I know, right? – ugh).

There was one thing that saved me

Photography. By my third year I found my way into the school’s photo lab and basically started spending as much time as I could making images. It was my escape. I was inspired by the world of photojournalism and intrigued by how a single image could capture an entire story. I’ve been following my passion for image making ever since.

But there was another aspect of photography that made a world of difference. The learning was all about doing. The discovery, exploration and education was almost entirely experiential. My two photography teachers became facilitators and guides. I was constantly being asked to try things out on my own – and learn by doing. I loved it. And I thrived. And, because of my level of engagement, I developed a trusting relationship with my photography teachers who became my first true mentors.

So why does this matter?

Let’s say you have a passion, some enterprise or project, that you’re trying to make happen. You offer a unique solution to a problem that a lot of people want help with and you’re inspired to help them out. You’re super talented at what you do and you know that in order to succeed you need to build a following – a community of people who engage with you and your work.

Sound like you?

All you need to do now is teach people about what you offer. As soon as they learn all about your product, your features & services – they’ll start hiring you or buying your thing – right? Well, not exactly.

This is where the problem is.

Take a look at the landscape of how almost everyone (whether a small business or a single freelancer or a social entrepreneur) lets people know about their work.

They end up making me feel a lot like I’m back in my high school history class. Their teaching (read: marketing) is all one way – and it’s all about them. There’s no relevance (to me). (I’m thinking, “Why should I care about this?” and “Why should I pay attention?”)

“But,” you say, “What about social media? Surely having more ways to connect and so many more connections gives us more chances for engagement, right?”

If anything, social media has only made things worse. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have turned us all into one-way broadcasters – creating a fire hose of endless information – that’s all about us.

Here’s the brutal truth: when it comes to the great work you do – nobody cares. People don’t want to hear from you about you. What they care about is their own stuff – and the problems they’re dealing with. If you want to engage with them – building trust and getting them involved with the thing you’re most passionate about – there’s only one way you can do this.

You need to give them the experience of getting the solution they’re looking for.

It doesn’t matter if your passion is dog grooming or design or dealing with climate change – if you’re going to build a following of people who share your passion and who want to work with you, you need to provide an experience of getting the solution.

Want people to follow your passion? Provide the experience of getting the solution you provide. Click To Tweet

After all those formative years as a student, I moved to the Pacific Northwest where I became an experiential educator. I developed an outdoor program that eventually became part of the Pacific Crest Outward Bound School. The methodology was all about learning by doing. And it involved building trust and engagement and helping groups of young people work together towards a common goal.

All good lessons for today’s entrepreneurs…

Case Study: Geordie Wood and Fader

introduce yourselfIn the video above, made for FADER and Visual Supply Company, Geordie Wood, photo director for The FADER, shares how Visual Supply Company’s new ipad app, Journal will allow more people to see, view, and contribute to photography as a whole. But Wood doesn’t talk about Journal so much as he talks about his own process as a photographer – and what he sees as the value that Journal provides to photographers (and photography lovers) everywhere.

We’re engaged, not because of the features & benefits of the product but because of Wood’s journey and vision.

I hope the process will provide you some experience of how to create engagement and build community for that thing that you’re most passionate about.

If you’d like to learn more techniques to engage people and how to get clients from your live video then watch this short tutorial on ‘How To Attract Clients On Video’ and learn my 3-step formula for generating leads with live video.

3 simple steps to telling a good story with video

What are the first steps to telling a good story with video?

Every story has a hero, and when you’re telling a story you want to make your customer the hero. But to tell a good story, your hero needs lots of hurdles to overcome. We love watching a hero triumph over some great challenge. We don’t pay attention to stories that are about nice people living in a nice world doing nice things.

This is because our brains are wired to look out for trouble. It’s an evolutionary thing. It kept us alive when life was full of life and death struggles (and we were all the underdogs – chased by lions and tigers and bears, oh my!)

When the hero of your story gets in trouble – we start to pay attention.

1. Make your hero the underdog

good story with videoCase Study: Misty Copeland – #IwillwhatIwant

32 year-old ballerina Misty Copeland has a great underdog story. And we all love an underdog.

Copeland was relatively unknown, and as a teenager, she was told via several rejection letters that she would never be a dancer. Her body wasn’t right, and at 13, she was too old.

As the video (above) opens, this is all told via a voiceover quotes from her past rejection letters.

2. Show don’t tell

But then, in a wordless revelation, we are shown Copeland flying through the air – a segment reminiscent of the final scene in Billy Elliot – with Copeland proving herself before our eyes. (Despite the early rejections, she is now a soloist for the American Ballet Theatre.)

This is brilliant, and efficient, storytelling.

The opening voiceover echoed things Copeland heard as a child.

But the visuals tell the opposite story.

We see Copeland power across the stage with strength and grace,

3. Talk with your audience

The tagline, “I Will What I Want,” appears at the close as a defiant call to action.

According to David Droga, founder of the Droga5 Agency, the “I Will What I Want” campaign is aimed at women who do not wait for permission, advice or affirmation from others to follow their passion.

Instead of creating a campaign about their clothing line, the video’s sponsor, Under Armor, built a site at www.iwillwhatiwant.com where athletic females can join with their peers to form “the ultimate fitness community.”

This is great engagement – especially for a brand that previously featured male athletes almost exclusively. They’ve succeeded at telling a great story. More importantly, now Under Armor has a nearly endless range of topics for an ongoing conversation with their target of athletic women – a place where women can go to share their passion and get support from their peers.

Right now the absolute best way to talk with your audience on a regular basis is through Facebook Live. You can reach your audience and engage them by sharing one story after another. And you can learn more about how to engage and grow your audience with just your smartphone by joining my FREE Videomaking Mastermind group on Facebook.


Will Sharing Your Process Help You Rule The World?

You’re a creative person.

And you’re working on stuff that you are crazy for. You say you’d do it even if you didn’t get paid. But here’s something that happens with creatives like you. You tend to stay in your creative closet. It’s a kind of block that’ll keep you from revealing your true talent. But, with just a little, regular exposure, your creativity can come out of the closet.

In the music making world this is called ‘woodshedding.’ As in ‘0ut back practicing in the woodshed for hours and hours to get good enough.’

But you can build your audience, and be engaging, while you’re still in the woodshed. You can share your process – a little at a time – no matter what you do and no matter where you are in your learning curve. Each day you can post a small tidbit of what you’re working on. And you’ll learn so much in the process.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Your share can be a tweet, a Facebook post, a photo on Instagram. But most engaging is a short video. Just pull that smart phone out of your pocket and show us something you’re doing today. Take 30 seconds and then share the clip.

Do this often. Make it a habit. People will respond and you’ll build your community. And once it becomes a habit, it will become part of your creative process – driving your work forward.

How you can do this yourself?

The video above is about as good as a sharing your process video can get. It shows just how engaging a story about someone’s process can be. It’s an endearing interview with artist Zina Nicole Lahr and a close look at her process – something she calls, ‘creative compulsive disorder.’

Zina needed something that would showcase her work but also tell a little bit about her personality and her interests. She had two days to shoot and edit so she and videographer Stormy Pyeatte shot the interview and smashed something together to meet their deadline.

But at nearly 6 and 1/2 minutes this video is long. And it shows so many projects. You could easily break this down to eight or nine separate short clips. There’s the LED parasol project, the robot project(s), the tarantula project, the crane puppet, the train puppet, stop animation, the soldering iron, the sea monster… each one of these could be stand-alone 30-seconds-in-a-day-in-the-life-of-the-artist videos.

How do you do this? You keep your smart phone handy with a simple tripod and turn it on when you hit an interesting or inspiring moment in your day.

You can also get help. Zina enlisted her friend who was a videographer. You don’t even need to go that far. Any friend who knows you well could sit behind your smart phone and make sure that you’re in the frame and ask you questions, interview style.

All you have to do is answer. No script needed. Best situation would be to partner with someone and help each other out with making short ‘share your process’ videos with each other. Not only will this make it easier, and better quality, but you can hold each other accountable.

Zina’s video ended up with a lot of visibility. It was chosen as a staff pick on Vimeo and has over 1 million views on facebook. Gives you some idea of the potential response to a ‘here’s what I’m up to’ video.

Want to radically increase your visibility?

Join my FREE Videomaking Mastermind group on Facebook >

…and share what you’re up to!

5 remarkable secrets to telling video stories

Why telling stories about your work is not always a good thing.

It took a long time for me to get this one right.

But once I did, everything started getting easier. New clients started showing up – not only with more interest in my work but with a greater appreciation for its value.

And yet, this is the one mistake that I see creative business owners making. It’s the thing that keeps them from standing out from the crowd and can turn your efforts to engage your audience into just so much time wasted.

Visit any website (especially your own ‘About’ page) and you’ll see the problem:

Talking about yourself instead of talking about your customer.

I know. I did this. It feels natural to want to show what you can do – or demonstrate the length and breadth of your experience. But your customers and clients don’t really care about you and your story. They care about themselves and their own story. They care about their problems and concerns. And they want to know if you understand them.

It’s Not About You – It’s About Them

Take a look at your website or your latest social media post or the elevator pitch you’ve been using at networking events. Is it all about you and how great your service or product is?

Or could you be telling video stories about the real benefits that your customers are looking for? Start telling stories about your customers and they’ll start talking with you – and hire you.

Here’s 5 essential steps to telling stories about your customers
1. Begin by telling their story.
2. Talk about their circumstances.
3. Present a picture of where they are now that shows you understand their concerns
4. Then show them where they could be.
5. Listen to what your customers & clients want and then show them how you can help them get it.

Air on the side of humanity

telling video storiesThe Jet Blue video above does this beautifully. In 60 seconds it perfectly describes the circumstances of the typical frequent flyer – showing the lack of customer care provided by the airline industry. In a review of the video, Adweek points out that the video shows how we’re actually quite pigeon-like, “Much like the humble pigeon, who flies in crowded spaces, gets crumbs for snacks and is generally ignored and/or despised, we tend to be unappreciated when we take to the skies aboard (other) airlines.”

Anybody who’s ever flown can relate.

And it’s funny because it’s a pigeon who’s narrating.

The video closes with a key insight that you can’t help but agree with: “There’s gotta be a way to fly with a little respect.”

Why this works

Jet Blue shows us where we are today – which is a crumby place to be (see what I did there?). And then suggests the possibility of something much better – which speaks to our collective desire.

We want to fly with respect.

Then they hit us with how they’ll take us there – with more leg room and free, unlimited snacks and two slogans to help us feel respected: “Air on the side of humanity” and “You above all.”

This video didn’t go super viral – but it didn’t have to. It just works because it tells a great story.

Want to learn how to tell a great story with video? Join my FREE Livestream Rockstars Group on Facebook.