The Art of Storytelling

Siwa Vetvik-Ellefsen - Content Strategist for Splæsh

I have a thing against adjectives. They’re not real storytelling. They’re cheap attempts at persuasion. Real storytelling is to invite the audience on a journey, one which requires nouns and verbs in order to be engaging. The effect you want is for the audience to come up with the adjectives themselves. It’s always about the impression they are left with at the end, not the impression you have yourself to begin with.

From DVD to the Web

Back when I first started, video content was delivered to the client on DVD. It’s been a whirlwind of development from then to today’s world of content. Previously, you had to understand how the DVD player worked in order to help and advise the client. Now you have to understand the internet, which is far more complex than “push play”, and “have you tried switching it on and off?”.

You have to understand the internet!
The Triangle of Content Creation

A surprising amount of thought goes into content creation. You’re constantly trying to balance three perspectives:

  • Yours – and how you creatively want to tell the client’s story.
  • Your client’s - and the effect they’re after, for the individual content and the brand in total.
  • The viewer – how they prefer to be inspired, taught or entertained, in their preferred formats and channels.

When a clash of perspectives occurs, defer to the viewer’s as much as possible. They are the ones who are supposed to appreciate the content. Not your boss (and not your client’s boss either). 

Include the Audience

People are used to user-testing web pages and making adjustments based on actual audience insight. This is still not true for video, at least not to the same extent. I find that strange. The reach for video is potentially so much larger than other types of content. Yet many people create videos, close their eyes and hope for the best as they hit “publish”.

I have a deep hope that audience testing becomes an obvious and natural part of the video creation process in the not too distant future. Of course, people measure audience engagement after they’ve published. But what about before? What about actually listening to the audience as you’re making the video?

The reach for video is potentially so much larger than for other types of content.

It’ll be exciting to see where we are in 10 years time, particularly in terms of video marketing. There is so much going on now, and things are happening at warp speed. I do detect a slight shift in the right direction. But what I want is a substantial shove.

Storyteller Through and Through

I am a huge film nerd. My DVD/Blu-ray collection is the size of a small public library. I love watching behind the scenes and audio commentary; just nerd-out on lighting, sound effects, editing, music composition, directing decisions and so on. Deep diving into these details, learning from them, and being able to use it in my own work is something I know I will cherish forever.

So whether it’s movies, series, books or songs, I love them for their common denominator: great storytelling.