I Know There's a Story in Here Somewhere...

(Reposted with permission from the Wave One Group.)

There’s a certain trajectory our projects typically follow: story discovery; project planning; pre-interviews; filming; story production; editing; client review; final delivery. Most of the time the path from planning to completion is pretty smooth. But there’s a moment during our process where we can predict, with pinpoint accuracy, when a client’s story begins its slow slide from memorable and meaningful to mediocre. It’s the moment when the client looks at a story for the first time.

“I love it! It’s perfect!” exclaims the client. “But I just have a few things I'd like to add."  

Let the slide begin.  

"Can you add a couple more interviews? What about adding more pictures? How about we throw in some more facts so people will really understand what we’re talking about?”

Whenever you cram your story with extra facts and figures and there’s no compelling reason to do so, you quickly turn your emotionally compelling piece into a long, boring video brochure. 

Film/video is a terrible tool to deliver logical, linear information precisely because facts and figures aren’t visual. But film/video is a terrific tool for telling visual stories. And the concept of story and storytelling is really coming into its own, led in part by best-selling authors like Daniel Pink.

In Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, he talks about the importance of story and storytelling as we move away from the linear logic of the Information Age and into the Conceptual Age, a society and economy built on empathy, invention and big-picture capabilities. Pink writes:

“When our lives are brimming with information and data, it’s not enough to marshal an effective argument. Someone somewhere will inevitably track down a counterpoint to rebut your point. The essence of persuasion, communication, and self-understanding has become the ability also to fashion a compelling narrative.”

Getting Unstuffed and Unstuck

So what can you do when you discover that your story is veering off-course? Here are five tips to get you—-and your story—back on track:


  1. Remember: it’s not about you. Or your boss. Or your board. Or your marketing team. You are not the audience for your story. And the moment you forget this key fact, you, and your story, are doomed.
  2. So who is your audience? Take your time to clearly define and identify this group. What is important to them? What chapters of your organization’s story will they want to hear? How do you want to motivate and inspire them?
  3. What was the original vision, goal and objective you had for your story? Clients get so caught up in making sure they remember to add all the key facts to their story that they forget about what they said they truly wanted during our story discovery session. Often all it takes to get your story back on track is to remember why you wanted to tell it in the first place.
  4. What has fundamentally changed about your organization’s story since you decided to tell it? If you can’t answer that question, then don’t try to fix what isn’t broken.
  5. Work your storytelling game plan. Believe that your story is compelling, meaningful and worth telling without having to second-guess your process.  


It takes discipline and courage to keep your story focused. But the payoff is worth it if your story is able to create a memorable emotional connection in the hearts and minds of your audience. And in today’s increasingly noisy world, being remembered can make all the difference!

Note: This week's blog is reposted by permission of Holly Paige, owners of the Wave One Group. Holly also serves as a video and storytelling advisor to CFM. Read more about CFM's video approach

Need help unstuffing your next story? Call or email: 503-223-9537; holly@waveonegroup.com.