PART 3: How to keep your viewer engaged
Updated: Aug 27, 2021
The biggest difference between writing and making a video is that a video allows you very little room for self-indulgence. When you write, you can get away with some superfluous content, because even if you really draw out your sentences, just saying the same thing in different ways, like really stretching them out to the point where it gets boring and repetitive...
Well even if you do that, the reader is likely to scan past that paragraph and skip to the next bit (see what I did there?).
Anyway, when you’re making a video, you don’t have this luxury. If it gets boring, the viewer will just stop watching. To keep him or her engaged, you need to...
1) Make it for your audience
‘Dhoni hit a massive six’
‘That six was so big it landed at Mondys’
If you’re talking to your boss, you don’t have to give him or her background on the project at every meeting. If you’re talking to your baby, you will make goo-goo sounds. Make sure your content, your references and tone match what you would use if you were having a one-on-one conversation with your intended audience.
Let’s stick with the 2011 World Cup final and MS Dhoni’s last-ball six as an example:
If I didn’t have a good idea of my audience, I’d say “Dhoni hit a really massive six”.
If I knew the audience was a hardcore Mumbaikar, I’d instead say “that six was so big the ball landed at Mondys”.
2. Keep it conversational
‘This was the highest successful run chase’
‘You know what the icing on the cake was?’
This hack always works when you’re in a spot. To really emphasise a particular point, just break it up into a Q&A format.
For example, this is a perfectly acceptable sentence: “This was the highest successful run chase in World Cup finals history, beating Sri Lanka’s 245/3 in the 1996 title clash against Australia”.
In a video though, this works better:
You know what’s the icing on the cake?
India now hold the record for the highest run chase in a World Cup final.
And do you know what the previous best was?
That’s right: Sri Lanka’s 245/3 in the 1996 title clash against Australia.
What here is that when someone sees or hears a question, they’re automatically thinking of possible answers, and in the process they get more involved in your story.
3. Delete, delete, delete
Or why Gambhir’s 97 isn’t spoken about as much as Dhoni’s 91*
Remember we spoke about not overthinking your video and just letting things flow as if you were talking to someone? Now that you’ve done that, it’s time to take out the bits where you were rambling.
The more you manage to leave out, the more focused your story will be.
There’s a reason Gautam Gambhir’s 97 is not remembered in the same way as Dhoni’s 91 from that 2011 final.
The story of that final was: Boy from a village grows up to become India captain and wins the World Cup with a last-ball six. In this storyline, Gambhir is, unfortunately, an editable aside.
One last thing to wrap this post up: it’s ok if the initial videos you make are really short… 30 to 35 seconds is also fine, just show it to a couple of people and make sure they’re a) making it to the end without getting distracted and b) getting the point you’re trying to communicate.