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This post was written, in celebration of National Tell a Story Day, by Mary Schiller, a life coach and author who writes and publishes fiction under the pen name, Maggie Waters. You can find Mary online at maryschiller.com and minimoviesforthemind.com.

How do you tell a compelling, yet concise story about your business through video? You may only have 60 to 90 seconds to hold someone’s attention (or even less) when they visit your website. Here’s a simple way to construct a video that captures the attention of your visitors and tells your business’ story – even if you don’t consider yourself a writer or director.

For the purposes of this article, I’ve taken inspiration from photo essays on news or travel websites and in magazines. These are a series of photos that tell a story about a particular person or place. You can use a similar technique to create a video for your business with photos and video clips, using Animoto. You don’t need an expensive camera or gear to get started. If you have a mobile device, like an iPhone, that shoots video or photos, you’re all set.

To structure this type of video story using photos and/or video clips (a mix works well, too), here are some simple steps I recommend following. They are ideal for behind-the-scenes clips featuring a product being made, or for tours of retail shops or restaurants and will give your viewer a good look into what it would be like to visit in real life.

  1. Choose one specific, simple story you’d like to tell. For example, give your audience a “behind-the-scenes” look at how you design a product.
  2. The first shot in the video would be what we’d call a “wide shot.” It sets the stage and lets viewers orient themselves. For example, you could start with a couple of exterior shots of your neighborhood and the building in which you work.
  3. The next shot would be taken inside, as if the viewer has walked through the door. You could even include a quick shot of the door opening.
  4. As you determine each shot, think of the entire video as one long zoom-in – starting from the wide angle and moving inward. So the next show could be of your actual workspace.
  5. Follow with a shot of yourself in your work area. Perhaps you’re sitting at the computer or drawing on a drafting table. This could be called a “medium shot.”
  6. As you zoom in further, you could get close-ups of what’s on your screen, what’s around your workspace, what’s on your drawing table – like the tools you use and any objects for inspiration. Get in close and make your viewer feel like they’re right there, getting inspired along with you.
  7. As you create the design, again show some close-ups of what you’re working on, including a smile on your face when it meets your and your customer’s expectations.
  8. A closing shot that backs out a little – say, to show you in your workspace again in a “medium shot” – is a nice way to end a video like this.

Keep this simple structure in mind of starting wide and zooming in on the action as the story progresses.

Here are a few more quick tips:

  • Write a shot lists – for videos, photos, or both – before you start, to save yourself time. This is basically an outline that shows what shots you need to tell your story.
  • Intersperse text throughout your Animoto video: short blurbs that tell the viewer what’s happening. In our example, we would use captions and titles to narrate and explain what the product is intended to be.
  • If you’re shooting video, for each shot you take, stay as steady as you can. Be sure to shoot a little extra at the beginning at the end so nothing gets cut off. You can trim your clips later in Animoto.
  • Don’t follow the action with the video camera. Instead, let the action play out in front of the camera.

Mary’s tips are a great starting point for anyone looking to create a video giving viewers a look inside their business. These types of videos can be great fodder for your social media profiles, or an About Us section on your website. Looking for inspiration on creating other types of business videos? Check out some of the other posts on our blog:

Driving Word-of-Mouth Advertising with Personalized Videos
Creative Inspiration: Customer Testimonial Videos
Crafting the Perfect Crowdfunding Project Video
Promoting Happy Hour Specials with Video
Promoting Your Etsy Shop with Video

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