We had a great time at CRC in October. We drew a large crowd and enjoyed an enthusiastic response to our talk on the structure of stories. And we got the chance to see what our fellow exhibitors were presenting as the future of market research.

Not surprisingly, a number of them were discussing the importance of video, both as a research tool and a way to report research findings.

We’ve been seriously involved in video for the past few years. Since it’s a growing trend, we thought we’d share one of the most important insights we’ve learned.

It’s The Narrative That Counts.

One of the common misperceptions about video is that it’s a visual medium.

For sure, a video provides us with images. But in order for videos to engage, they need to tell a story.

It’s the series of images that matters. The pictures need to move forward in a way that is coherent and meaningful. They need to make us want to know what comes next. And to leave us with a sense of closure at the end.

The better way to think about video, therefore, is as a narrative medium, one that just happens to use imagery as part of its language.

Concentrate On The Script.

In all too many video projects not enough attention is paid to scripting and editing, and too much is focused on imagery and style.

What results is something that might be beautiful but is ultimately meaningless.

You often see this in the work of highly skilled still photographers who have moved into video production. Each image in their video may be gorgeous. Isolate one frame, view it as a still, and you’ll be moved. 

But when the images are strung together at 24 frames-per-second, and we cut between them, the piece falls flat.

Conversely, there are videos relatively low in production value that are, nonetheless, totally engaging on account of the great story that’s being told.

Which goes to show that we expect something more than compelling imagery when watching a video. As a medium that flows through time, we expect something to happen. We want a sense of direction and purpose. A beginning, middle and an end.

Story First. Imagery Second.

So if you’re already using video, or planning to use it in your research reporting, remember to first think of your story.

Invest time in your script, even imagining what it might be before you ever see any data. You don’t have to stick to this script once you receive your qualitative and/or quantitative findings, but it helps to get you into a storytelling frame-of-mind from the outset.

When it comes time to create your video, base all of your creative decisions on whether or not a certain element, be it data or imagery or graphics, supports the story. Edit out anything and everything that interrupts the flow or takes the story off-track, even shots or respondent quotes that you love. (You can always include them in an accompanying deck.)  

And, most important of all, remember that you’re not making a video. You’re telling a story and imagery is just part of the language you’re working with.  

This was a central theme of the talk we gave at CRC and, from the reaction we got, attendees really appreciated its importance.  

For those of you who couldn’t attend our presentation, we recommend you take a look at our online storytelling course linked below.   

Check out our online storytelling course for market researchers