This sounds like a grandioso claim but we’ve never lived in a more visual way than we do now. Apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook have completely changed the way we communicate with each other. Whether it’s videos, stories or gif’s, we have access to almost anything we want to see, when we want. We’ve mastered the format of short form content due to our shorter attention span, forcing us to be more direct and impactful with what we share. And as smart phones continue to come down in price, we enter a new era of storytellers.

Then there’s work….for far too long we’ve had to sit through too many uninspiring, epicly long presentations. Slide after slide after slide of text and diagrams. These two worlds couldn’t be further apart. So why do people find it so hard to talk about the things they’re working on? Surely the less enthusiasm you have for telling the story of your product the less enthusiasm your client has for the thing you’re building/their paying for.

Building a culture of storytellers at the workplace

Documenting projects has always been part of our fabric at Made by Many, we make sure to take photos/videos of every aspect of our projects. It’s a great way to tell stories that are sometimes hard to articulate in a deck. But documenting and storytelling aren’t the same thing. The difference is: storytelling is the way you craft the objects you documented into a narrative.

A great example of storytelling at Made by Many is our client books. Every year at Christmas we make a book for our clients celebrating the story of the project. It shows all our processes, all our key moments, it’s a real summary of everything we’ve achieved together. It’s a feat in itself to create the book but the reward is totally worth it, our clients respond really well to them.

So it got me thinking why wait for this moment once a year? How can we create more WOW moments throughout our projects? How can we deliver more impact with our presentations?

We’ve messed around with lots of different storytelling methods but none has been as effective as video.

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a video’s worth a million pictures

Video stirs our passions, our outrage, nothing hits that emotional spot as much. It brings our users, our processes, our research, our strategies right into the room for everyone to see.

Teach what you preach

The unexpected is a scary thing for pretty much anyone, this is often the case at the start of a project when clients are faced with new ways of working. Video is a great way of breaking down this barrier and demonstrating the processes that goes into building successful products.

You should never wait for the ta-da moment at the end of your project, it’s as much about the journey and how you got there as it is the final thing. It’s often hard to keep stakeholders who haven’t been involved in the day to day informed about how we’ve arrived at this point. That’s why video can be a way more powerful tool than a traditional deck when communicating your creative process. Just to clarify, this isn’t necessarily about completely replacing a deck — it’s about giving context to how we do things and why we do it this way.

Praise you like I should

It’s not just all about your processes, it’s also about praising the work and effort of the team. And by ‘team’ I mean recognising the work and achievements by you, your client and your users, it’s a collaborative celebration.

I don’t think we stop to recognise the effort that goes into building products sometimes and the journey that it takes, especially for our clients who are adopting methods that they’ve never used before.

So with all that documenting you do, spend an hour or two stitching your best/worst moments into a xFactor esq montage. It’s so easy to do and makes for such a great moment in presentations. Celebrate more.

Reach a bigger audience

When it comes to sharing a presentation you’ve given, it’s much easier to control the narrative of a video than it is a deck. You have so many more elements at your disposal such as pace, timing, sound, commentary. It gives you the freedom to be as impactful as you want.

It’s the easiest thing you can share that might be watched by lots of people. You can easily make a video that’s 2 minutes long, you then compare that to a pdf that might take 40 mins to read. A CEO or senior stakeholders who hasn’t got bags of time is much more likely to sit through 2 minutes of engaging content than scroll through a 100 slide pdf.

Changing opinions

In the past, we’ve presented quotes alongside insights and we’ve found this to be an effective way of sharing our research.

But the more we experimented with video the more it highlighted some weaknesses with this written format:

  • You lose context in how it was spoken
  • It’s time consuming getting quotes
  • It’s translated

Whereas with video:

  • You get your point across much quicker
  • It helps build empathy with your users
  • It’s way more effective coming from their mouths than ours

However, this comes with a big BUT. Video is much more powerful and convincing, so with great power comes great responsibility. You have to moral compass to show both sides of the story and not just select what you want to show. As a storyteller it’s vital you’re telling the user’s story — not yours or your clients. This same responsibility applies for traditional methods. Skewing research can potentially destroy your product.

I’m not claiming that we’ve invented some new kind of storytelling format, we haven’t, it’s video at end of the day. It’s been around longer than I’ve been alive.

It’s important to experiment with the ways you tell your product’s story to your clients. There’s no better feel good moment than seeing all the team’s hard work wrapped up in a super punchy 2 minute video. That artifact is an encapsulation of everything you’ve achieved, and you were part of it. It’s even brought a tear to our client’s eye, which makes me proud of what I and everyone at Made by Many do. Storytelling shouldn’t be one person’s role — it should be part of your culture.

I’d love to share some of these videos but due to the nature of our work and the sensitivity of our clients I can’t at the moment. However I’ll follow this up with a tutorial about how to create some similar videos in due course.

Further Reading

Medium flipside mxm

Breaking bubbles and building skills

Adam Morris

Now more than ever, as we create the next generation of products and services that are lasting longer, reaching wider and impacting more lives - we need to...

Medium jonah hill yes

Moneyball: the art of winning at “IT procurement”

Andrew Walker

Moneyball by Michael Lewis, tells the story of the 2002 season of the Oakland A’s, an American professional baseball team based in Oakland California, and ...

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