Often when we watch a compelling video that inspires us or moves us to action, we’re so caught up in our own goosebumps or spine tingles, we rarely pay attention to why and how the video accomplished its job. But the best way to become a better storyteller is to pay close attention to why certain works captivated you and to try to implement those strategies in your own creation. As a team dedicated to helping people tell their stories, we often analyze what works in Spark stories and what could be improved. To that end, here are three cause-based videos that moved us and the storytelling tips we gleaned from each. (You might want to have tissues handy.)
Go for Universality
We think kids usually make the best narrators, but that’s not the only reason this simple video touched our hearts. What could have been just another disaster in a far off land feels personal—these little voices could belong to our own children, nieces, and nephews; and the drawings look just like the treasures we put on our fridge. Highlighting a universal quality can go a long way toward inspiring empathy in viewers. In this case, the common protective instinct we feel towards children brings a far-away tragedy closer to home. The creator begs us to put ourselves in the narrator’s position, thus inspiring sympathy—and more likely, action. No matter what story you’re trying to tell, identify the universal experience or common emotion present in your work and find a way to deliver it to your audience with an exemplary anecdote, narration method, or image.
Keep the Pace
First of all, if you want to stimulate tear ducts, melancholy string music can fast-track that process. (Pro-tip: Did you know you can upload your own audio file to play in your Spark Video? Click on the music tab from the create view, then select “Upload a Song.”) But this video really excels in its pacing, which keeps the viewer invested, despite being very simple. Getting people to watch the video all the way through is the first hurdle change-makers need to clear and this storyteller accomplishes that by using suspense. He starts off slow, allowing the weight of his question to sink in and giving the viewer time to attempt to answer the question. The video then picks up speed as the names of the other women flash on screen. Pace plays a huge role in defining the mood and energy of a piece, while switching up the pace around key statements or plot points can help captivate your viewer from start to finish. Think about songs you like—they typically don’t sustain one note the whole way through. Altering the pace at key moments or plot points can help keep your audience engaged the whole way through. Pro-tip: The length of each Spark Video slide is dictated by how long the recording is. The more bite-sized the recording, the faster (and usually higher energy) your video will be. Play around with breaking up large pieces of text into various syntaxes and see how the energy of your video changes. Bonus! Another tactical thing this example has going for it is the fact that it doesn’t need sound. Recent data confirms what you likely already know: 80 percent of people who view videos on Facebook do so with the sound off. Remember this fact and make sure you add captions or tell visual stories if Facebook is your main distribution method.
The creator of this video tackles a huge subject—the importance of mentoring childrend—but he grabs our attention by starting with his own personal perspective. Viewers tend to get overwhelmed when presented with a big issue straight out of the gate. But this creator slowly builds to his broader message by starting with his own personal story many people can empathize with: wanting the best for your children. The main takeaway: start narrow to inspire empathy then broaden your story to explain the significance. Have you watched or created a video that inspired you lately? Send it to us on Twitter!