Show, Don’t Tell: Showcasing Your Business with Photos & Video

Megan O'Neill


“Show, Don’t Tell” is a literary technique through which a writer enables readers to experience a story through actions, thoughts, and feelings rather than words that directly spell out what’s going on. This concept is also an important one to keep in mind when creating videos.

Writer Robert J. Sawyer explains in a piece called On Writing, “When writing a romantic scene, don’t tell us that John is attracted to Sally; show us that his heart skips a beat when she enters the room. It’s rarely necessary to tell us about your characters’ emotions. Let their actions convey how they feel instead.” Similarly, when you’re making a video about your business, don’t tell us about your work through endless captions and titles – show us what you do through photos and videos.

We all know the old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” With great images and video clips, you can bring your business to life, instead of putting viewers to sleep with text. You can see this concept in action in the examples below.

Example of a video that tells

This video certainly does a decent job of explaining what Smith’s Bouquets has to offer — beautiful flowers, service with a smile, personalization, and arrangements created in-house — but the endless titles and captions make it difficult for viewers to get a real sense of what it would be like to visit. Very little is expressed about the shop’s welcoming atmosphere and uniqueness.

Example of a video that shows

This video, on the other hand, uses videos and photos to show the viewer what it’d be like to actually visit Smith’s. As you can see, this method is much more effective. Rather than reading about the beautiful flowers and service with a smile, you actually see these things.

Have you created a marketing video for your business that you think does a good job of showing, rather than telling? We’d love to see it. Share a link with us in the comments.

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