Creating a Story Structure
Communication itself is constantly evolving. Once upon a time, it may have been enough to be a good speaker, but you also need to be a good writer these days. However, yet another giant leap in communication is upon us, and new skills will be required to thrive in this new world.
Mobile devices and social media have fundamentally changed the way we communicate. What used to be walls of text have become feeds of videos. Dating as far back as 2017, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg already stated that he would "keep putting video first across our family of apps." In June 2021, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said that "Instagram is no longer a photo-sharing app" as they pivot ultimately into a platform for video content.
Think of all the most memorable pieces of content you've watched. What do they have in common? Regardless of the type of video you are creating, you must tell a good story. As we migrate rapidly towards a video-driven world, there are a few key components to keep in mind to perfect the art of video storytelling.
The first in a 3 part series, we begin by diving into the story structure in this post.
At the core of every great story is a strong structure. Every story starts with an exposition and then moves towards the rising action, culminating at the climax, ultimately landing the narrative at the denouement.
The core principles of great filmmaking apply even to your average internet video. Let's take a look at how we can use the classic three-act structure in a one-minute video.
1 - The Hook (5 seconds)
As your viewers scroll through an endless sea of video content, you have less than five seconds to capture attention before people move on - which is why we always start with a hook.
A hook is a mystery that begs to be solved, and the only way to solve it is to watch the video. One way to create a hook is to consider starting with a question, and if the question resonates, they must stick around to know the answer. You could also start with an unusual statement that prompts the viewer to stay for the explanation.
2 - The Body (40 seconds)
Once you've hooked your audience, you have to deliver. Have you ever watched a great trailer only to be disappointed by the actual movie? That's what happens when you don't deliver. The body has to have substance. It has to live up to the hook. If a viewer engages with your content for the first time, this is your one shot at making a first impression.
Great body content is meaningful, thoughtful, and genuine. If you started your video with a question, then this is where you must provide a satisfying answer. If you started with a statement, then this is where you elaborate and add the meat on the bone. It gives your video purpose and connects the audience to your cause.
3 - The Ending (15 seconds)
Great endings are few and far between, but this is your last chance to make an impression. The most common way to stick a landing is to leave the audience with something memorable to help internalize your message.
Some other ways to create memorable endings:
- End with a powerful quote from a respected figure.
- Consider ending the video with a profound question, prompting the viewer to ponder even after the video.
- If you want the viewer to take action, you also want to establish a clear call to action. Depending on your goals, your call to action could be something as simple as "like and subscribe for more."
- If you are trying to direct sales or revenue through your video, you could try a more direct call to action, such as "buy this product" or "book a consultation."
It seems obvious to have a beginning, middle, and end for any story, but it's not something that most people think about when creating a short video for social media.
If you keep with a strong storytelling format that viewers recognize, they can then focus on your message, and not try to piece together what's going on in the video.
Something to try: Go back to some videos you've created in the past or find some posts to review and see if you can spot the transitions from beginning, middle, and end and compare to those videos that don't have this transition. Did you notice a difference?
Share your thoughts with us! We'd love to hear from you.
Up next, Part 2: How to Keep your Viewers Engaged