Lots of the content that we share in this blog focuses on what the Red Bulls of this world are doing to communicate with their audiences. We share these because the more extreme examples help us to illustrate the underlying principles more clearly. The fact is though that most of the videos that we produce don’t have people jumping out of space balloons, or helicopters or stunts of most kinds. Most of our work is a little... slower paced. That in no way means that it needs to be boring though. There are some really great ways to make even the driest subject matter engaging and interesting. It does help to follow a few key principles though...
1. Keep it Simple
OK - this is a strange way to start a blog about making videos about complex content but do bear with us. The point is you need to condense your information down to the key point you are trying to make - as much as feasible. Do not overload the video with too much content. Think about what you want the audience to think, feel or do as a result of watching and then focus on achieving that one thing. Clarity is essential. It is almost impossible to make a film which is too simple in what it is trying to achieve.
Focus on the elements of the brief you most need to relay to create videos which land the message.
Take this film for RBI Recruitment. They wanted to illustrate the fact that they have eight recruitment titles in their stable. What else is famous for having eight 'bits'? Quite. This animation cuts away everything else they could have included and focuses on the one this that RBI were trying to get across. As a result, it lands the message effectively.
2. Think about actual people in the target audience group
When making videos about complicated ideas particularly there is a tendency to make them even more complicated by trying talking to the audience as a block rather than a collection of individuals. This can lead to weird phrasing and a quite impersonal feel. The best videos are the ones that speak directly to each audience member. A great way to do this is to think about two or three members of different parts of the target audience when creating your script and film. Do test it by thinking about other members. If you don't know any, it's usually worth doing a little bit of leg work to find them.
3. Use experts who know and love the material
'Talking head' or interview led films are an excellent, cost effective way to get your message across, particularly if the interviewee has an in-depth understanding and can relate it clearly and with energy, as the fund manager does in the above film for Glint.
A knowledgeable expert can explain ideas clearly and interestingly
4. Use animation and visual metaphor
Animation is a brilliant way of communicating more complicated ideas. This is because it allows you to show and tell the concepts you are explaining at the same time. Normally, you should never explain what you can show - but - using metaphor to underline the principles of the voice over helps to demonstrate the ideas without feeling overly obvious. This makes the information far more tangible and memorable. You can see this at work in this animation for the EIB.
Visual metaphor is a great way of underlining the key ideas in your animation
5. Don't forget emotion
Content that focuses on creating an emotional response in the audience beats the purely rational in effectiveness tests every time. No matter the subject, it is important that you include a bit of character as this engages a different part of the brain and helps the information to stick. This means the audience are more likely to remember and act on your message. As a quirk of the way our brains work we automatically attribute agency to the objects we see moving. This can be used to great effect to build engagement with the audience. Look at how the character of the ball bearing in this film helps to draw you into the message.
Rube Goldberg machines are satisfying to watch. Here it demonstrates the interconnectedness of the subject matter in a nifty visual metaphor.
Sometimes video works best promoting other media
This might sound slightly contrary to the whole point of this blog, but there may well be some occasions when video is not the right route to take. Emotion and information exist in a balance in all films. Too much focus on emotion – with practically no information – and the film can feel superficial and lacking in substance (think of most fashion ads). Too much information and not enough emotion, and the film will be dry, difficult to follow and impenetrable (some corporate reports embody this pitfall).
They should be like yin and yang. In every informative film you should have a bit of emotion, and in every emotive film you should have a bit of information (even if that is a basic narrative structure). Because of this, if you have lots and lots of information to get across, video might not be the best way to do it. You’ll probably find it more effective to create a PDF document, use video to outline a few salient points and promote reading the PDF through a shorter, more engaging film.
Whatever you're sharing videos about online it helps to make sure that they're the right length to maximise engagement and action. To help you do that - no matter the platform - we created a whitepaper. You can download it right here.