Answer this question, become a better storyteller

Answer this question, become a better storyteller

"What are you going to point a camera at?"

Answering this one question will make you a better storyteller. 

Let me explain.

Back in the day, as a young TV researcher, I would pitch stories about political issues, among other daily news items.

My bemused Editor would hear me out then say "that's interesting Steve, but what are you going to point a camera at?"

"Well, we could film the Houses of Parliament, erm, maybe the High Court... err..."

The trouble with political stories is there's lots to say and not much to see. Which is why you get endless shots of government buildings while a reporter explains the issues (what's known by TV journos as "guilty building syndrome").

A few years later, the BBC trained me up to shoot my own footage as a video-journalist. Yep, that's me in the photograph with my trusty Sony PD150. And boy, did I learn fast. You can't tell a story in TV unless you've got pictures. No tell without show.

This is a valuable lesson for any kind of storyteller, not just TV journalists.

Imagine you've got to tell colleagues about the new sustainability strategy at your property letting company. Sure, you can tell them about the mission, your values and how you're committed to it. But wait. What are you going to point a camera at?

"Sustainability": nothing to see here, nothing to film.

Try this. Here's a tenant, worried about her heating bills. Here's our engineer, adding insulation to her loft. What can you point your camera at now?

Do the Movie Time test

A good story has strong visual scenes, conjured up by your words alone. Every important communication needs at least one scene.

So, when you've written a blog post, an email or a strategy document, sit back and think "what would I point a camera at?" If the answer is "nothing", then we can't see what you mean. Sadly, we won't remember what you said.

The Movie Time card will help you work out what you can point your imaginary camera at.

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