I made a recent job shift from corporate training to being the “video guy”. I am responsible for capturing “Success Stories” of customers who have installed and use our products.
The biggest thing that I’m struggling with now is telling a story that intrigues people and keeps them watching. I just finished your book, and as I think back through some recent edits I completed, I now know the intrigue wasn’t there.
How do I find the the most intriguing way to present customer stories in interview videos?
I am going to give you the secrets of intrigue right here, Ken, and your videos are going to be impossible to stop watching. But first, let’s talk about what “intrigue” really means:
In the first minute of Citizen Kane, Charles Foster Kane dies after uttering his last word, “rosebud.” A reporter’s quest to find out what “rosebud” means drives the entire movie. The reporter never finds out what it means, but we do, in the very last shot of the film. And when we do we’re satisfied. The quest to find “Rosebud” drives Citizen Kane forward with the force of curiosity. Intrigue. Which is one of the reasons it’s universally considered one of the greatest films of all time. What was “rosebud”? I bet you’re wondering now. Stay tuned.
Smart people like to know the answers, and they like others to know they know the answers. But smart filmmakers keep the answers to themselves until the very last second. This is “intrigue”– the art of the tease. It’s about leaving the audience salivating to find out what happens next. It’s about not giving away information until you have to. Because once the audience has the answers, they’re done. Curiosity satisfied. Case closed. Film over. But your question is: can you use intrigue to hold viewers in interview videos Unquestionably yes. Try these tips:
Add questions, not answers. Nothing intrigues like a question. Author Stephen King’s chapters end by raising big questions almost every time. And you will turn the page, anxious to know the answers. In your next video, make sure you end your scenes by raising questions. What was Kane’s “Rosebud” anyway? Are you wondering why I haven’t told you yet?
Start your video in the middle: If the first shot in your video is a close-up of a woman saying, “The basement wall crashed in on my husband– I had to wade through gallons of rushing water to pull him to safety.” I’m going to keep watching to find out what happened. I don’t need her name, age, how many kids she has, or any of the other boring stuff interviews usually start with. If eventually this dynamic video gets around to how your company’s sump pumps saved this couple’s house, I’ll be there to hear it.
Cut the boring stuff. Ruthlessly. If you cut the boring stuff, by definition what’s left is good. And good will keep them watching. How do you interview to get good, intriguing material? A few more tips will help:
Nothing is off-limits in an interview. Your customer hates your company? No worries, let her say it. “I would rather die than buy a Maytag washer” would be an incredibly intriguing way to start a Maytag company video. If you decide not to use it, that’s fine too. But edit later- not during the interview.
Follow your true curiosity. I was doing a video about type 2 diabetes, and the woman I was interviewing mentioned that drinking exacerbated her condition. I was curious, so I asked how much she drank. “About 6 or 10 beers a day,” came the reply. Suddenly I had a whole lot more to ask her, and it was all interesting.
Follow your true boredom. If you’re bored, the audience will be bored. Take a moment, change directions. Don’t be afraid to gently interrupt and re-direct. There’s something interesting about everyone. Your job is to find it.
Ask for stories and you’ll get stories. “Then what happened?” is one of the great story questions of all time. “How did that go?” “What happened after Jennifer closed the sale?” “How did your coworkers react to the product?” “Tell me about a day with our printer.” Good stories are always intriguing.
As a bonus, the structure you build to intrigue your audience keeps them interested even if they know the answer. The Sixth Sense is still a great movie the 5th time, even if you know the surprise ending. And knowing Kane’s boyhood sled was named “Rosebud” won’t keep you from following the journey.