Why the world would end without Visual Storytelling

I love a good read. I love how my mind works while I’m reading and how a good book can be so engrossing – how you can completely enter the world the author creates…

Radio, or a good podcast, can be just as engaging as reading. When you listen to a story your mind actively fills in all the visuals. I love good radio. And I’ve had what they call the NPR driveway moment (when I arrive home while listening to the radio in my car and sit there listening in the driveway until the end of the story).

But, a good film based on the same story? It just doesn’t reach same level of engagement.

Any time I’ve read a book that was then turned into a movie, the book’s always been better than the movie. The experience of watching a film just seems too passive.

We humans love our stories.

Author Philip Pullman wrote, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” Humans have always gathered to share stories. It’s essential to our identity. We’re not fully developed as humans until we know our stories and the stories of our people.

(editor’s note: Phillip Pullman has exactly one tweet on his Twitter account which says: ‘saw The Golden Compass in theaters… wasnt as good as the book…’)

Everyone has a good story to tell. Everyone is a good storyteller and everyone likes to tell their story – especially when people are listening and responding positively…

Want some proof? What did you do the last time you broke up with your boyfriend (or girlfriend)? You found someone who would listen and you told your story… (maybe you did this over some wine to loosen up) and then they told you some of their breakup stories.

You shared your stories and bonded over the common experience of breaking up.

Visual Storytelling

Right now – a new medium is taking over. Visual storytelling through video. Stories are being told, and shared, more frequently, and with greater velocity, via video. All you need to do is glance at your Facebook feed and you will see all kinds of stories being shared by hundreds, thousands and even millions – every day.

More people are watching, and sharing, video on a daily basis than any other medium. Which means that if you want to tell your story and give it the best chance of being heard, and shared, by the folks you most want to connect with, video has become most effective medium to use – it’s what people are doing.

Better than writing a book. Better than creating a podcast. Better than a posting to a blog. (And it can be easier and take less time)

Inspire Her Mind

The video above, Inspire Her Mind, is a great example of how video can help a story spread. It shows a young girl who is acting adventurous and curious – but is being told by her (overprotective) parents (who we never see) that she’s doing something that’s ‘not for girls.’

This video speaks directly to me because it tells an impactful story about parenting & I’m a parent. I have an 12 year-old daughter who I’d like to see follow her own brilliance – in whatever arena she chooses. With an inward cringe I recognize echoes of my own voice in the video – perhaps sounding like my own father (my-worst-nightmare!) – and feeling the emotional tug as the girl in the video starts to lose her drive.

The video is an engaging reminder of how easy it is for parents (like me) to slip up and give messages to our daughters that are discouraging and limiting. And it’s found a large audience. Inspire Her Mind has been viewed over 4 million times. Of course you don’t really need your story to be shared by millions to connect with the right group (although it certainly didn’t hurt the Inspire Her Mind video).

The question I find myself asking is would I have been engaged if this video story was told as a blog post? Would I be as likely to share it?

When it comes to sharing your story and engaging your crowd – is video now a better medium for sharing stories than a book? or a podcast? or a blog post?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share your comments tell us the story of how your business is different on our group on Facebook >

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Recycled Beauty: Supporting a Cause with Video

Can advertisements be used to inspire people into supporting a cause like recycling and inform them about best-practices along the way? Ellen Callaway of Callaway Photo, is using her skills as a food and product photographer to do just this. She’s created an advertising campaign called Recycled Beauty that’s designed to build knowledge and passion around recycling. Her photos are beautiful and informative and also promote recyclables as valuable raw materials in the economy.

I’ve been passionate about the environment for as long as I can remember. In fact, when I began college at a non-recycling institution, I sent my mom home with bags of recyclables like smelly milk jugs and crusty yogurt containers whenever she visited. So, I recycled and built my awareness about best practices throughout my education and early travels as a photographer, but really began to dive into the topic when I opened my own photo studio in Arlington, MA. From that steady location, I began to look-into the specific recycling rules and regulations of that area. I wanted answers to the pressing recycling questions that I’d held for years, such as ‘What if food is left in the recyclables?’ and ‘What if an item is made of mixed materials?’ So, I started volunteering with the Arlington Recycling Committee to find out.

In turn, I’ve answered these questions and more about how recycling works for various materials, observed the challenges that my town faces in diverting trash and in communicating guidelines to the public.

In time, I saw the connection between my trash reduction research and passion for descriptive photos to tell a story. Here, I had an opportunity to make visual connections between the wastes that we humans generate and how we can reduce and reuse them, give them new life through processes that are way more beautiful and exciting to take-on than a generic stock photo might portray.

So, the images in Recycled Beauty are informative and capture these valuable wastes as I would an intriguing product to be sold in the marketplace – transforming the “eyesore” of trash into an attractive, valuable raw material with endless potential.”

I ultimately hope that these Recycled Beauty photos are used to educate the public about the importance of recycling and how to do it correctly in a clear and inspiring way. Meanwhile, I’m working with entrepreneurs and leaders in the recycling community to build knowledge and excitement around recyclables as raw materials – earthy friendly and good for business.

Support a Cause: Recycled Beauty


What’s your story? How to talk about what you do

One of the concerns people have when they think about making a video is “What do I say?” and “Do I need a script?” My approach to video making is to not use a script. When people use a script you can always tell that they are reading something and you can come across as far more authentic if you create your video in an interview style – so that the final version is an edit to your answers about different aspects of your work (which you are kind of an expert on).

And even though you do not need a script – you can prepare what you want to talk about with the following set of questions. These questions will also serve you well when talking to anyone about the work you do.

You probably hear the question, “What do you do for a living?” all the time.

Your professional category is the wrong answer.

Your greatest breakthrough in connecting with prospective clients will come when you understand on a deep and personal level exactly what your clients need. Here’s a list of questions to help you create a dialogue about what you do from your clients’ needs perspective.

Part 1 – Introductory questions:

Who do you help?

What do you help them do?

Why? What’s your purpose? What do you hope to achieve through your work?

Part 2

I. Summarize your target market in one sentence

II. Identify & summarize 3 of the biggest & most critical problems your target market faces

III. List how you solve these problems & how you present your clients with unique solutions

IV. Include the most dramatic results your clients ever achieved

V. List the results & deepest benefits your clients receive

Part 3 – Your script:

You know how [part I] do/are/feel [insert part II]

Well, what I do is [insert part III]

The result is [part IV]

The benefits are [part V]

The short version:

I help [part I] … [part V]