Video Storytelling Advice from Former CNN Anchor Sachi Koto

Video Storytelling Advice from Former CNN Anchor Sachi Koto

Imagine if your assignment were to create a recruitment ad for the U. S. Navy. What elements would you include? That’s the question former CNN Anchor Sachi Koto asked a group of video professionals during a recent presentation. Some of the answers included a Navy ship, the U. S. flag, and people in uniform. Sachi Koto's talk to members of the Atlanta Internet Video Marketing Association focused on powerful storytelling that engages and motivates people to share the video. She began by pointing out how enduring storytelling is. From cave paintings depicting the day's hunt to present day videos, only the medium has changed. We all feel what our main character is feeling. We respond to emotion, and we enjoy being inspired. How do you bring those elements in to your videos. The ad below depicts all Sachi's messages about creating a winning video. It has emotion, one central message, dramatic images, and a powerful script:

So, how do you bring those elements in to your videos? Here are Sachi's top five tips:

1. Have One Central Message - Deliver it With Organization

In the ad above, the call to serve is the message. Do you feel a sense of history, a need to help others, or to defend your country. All those points are depicted through emotional scenes - the spirit and enjoyment of working as a team, the fear and courage of battle, the compassionate need to help others and make a difference.

Sachi advises choosing one message, creating an organized outline with points that back up the theme, and using emotion to illustrate each message. State. Support. Summarize. She says - think like a reporter and cover the basics of who, what, when, why, where, and how. One strong message, she says, backed up with support, is worth far more than five average messages.

2. Tell Your Story Objectively

If you're creating a marketing video for a product, focus on the person who uses the product and loves it. Sachi advises, telling the story through the eyes of a passionate consumer doesn't look like marketing. The product improved the person' life or solved their problem. Now, it's more of a story.

Sachi also points out whether the customer is interviewed in the video or there are images of that customer, think demographics. If you want to appeal to an Asian, interview an Asian. As an example, Sachi points to a print ad for Buick that ran in an Asian Awards program. The ad doesn't show a car. It shows two Asian children. Sachi says, "I didn't see a car. I saw someone who looks like me". It's very powerful. Going back to the Navy ad, you saw many types of people, because the Navy wants all those people.

3. Use Creativity, Imagination, And Humor

When trying to hone in on emotion, Sachi says consider creativity. If you can dramatize a powerful image that makes another person see your point in a way they may never had considered, you'll get results. We've all heard a dry and boring person tell a story, and we can't wait for it to end. Now, think about people who can talk about even the most mundane subjects and make them entertaining. Is it their humor, their cynicism, their sarcasm, or maybe their insight. Finding a unique approach to a story can make all the difference. Consider the ad below. Again, it's one powerful, emotional message told through a creative illustration.

4. Music Makes The Difference

Sachi says many video producers tend to overlook the power of music. She points out the amazing effect music has on the soul. Watch the Navy ad above with the music off. Then watch it with the volume up. Feel the difference. She advises really thinking through all the various emotions in your video and selecting the perfect music to draw that emotion out of the viewer.

5. Motivation Is Powerful

Sachi is a big believer in motivating and inspiring her audience. In her public speaking tours, she tells her audience about how she grew up terribly shy and then went on to become the first Japanese anchor at CNN. She wants her story to inspire her audience and motivate them to keep on speaking and improving. She helps them believe that anyone can get over the fear of public speaking. She says if your video can inspire the audience or can motivate them even in a small way, they are much more likely to want to share it - and that good feeling they got from it - with their friends. It just makes sense.

Consider one central message. Use interviews that reflect the demographic of your audience to capture the heart and soul of that message. State. Support. Summarize. Use objectivity, just as a reporter does. Look for creative and or humorous ways to illustrate or present the message. Select music to pull out the emotion. And, consider how your video might motivate or inspire your viewing audience.

Hare are a couple of favorite resources that might help with your story telling videos. When conducting interviews, CopyTalk does a great job of transcribing with the timecode for easy editing. They turn around the files quickly. If you need voice over work for narration or acting, consider Speedyspots. They have a wide variety of talented professionals. They are also very reasonable.

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About Our Contributing Author - Donna Davis
Donna Davis Founded the Atlanta Internet Video Marketing Association and is the owner of Marietta Video Productions and Bizspokesperson.com. She spent 20 years covering news as an anchor and reporter before starting her own video production companies.

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