Yearly Archives: 2015

6 Steps to A Better Company Story on your Website

So many more websites are featuring company-story videos that visitors now expect them. They can be an easier and more fulfilling experience than reading through all the pages. But the company story video can be even better with a few small changes.

With videos, companies don’t have to stop at still images; they can set them in motion. They can have a voice, music, motion and graphics. And they can, if they choose, evoke emotion in their visitors. It’s that second point that I emphasize in this blog. Most companies explain products, often describing features, or sometimes show how they help customers. But especially if you’re a company where it’s difficult to point out your difference, such as those who provide services, this is your chance to differentiate your company by showing emotion. Here’s how:

  1. Use real people: employees and customers, not animation or actors, unless those actors are movie quality.
  2. Give customers an inside look. Show them your commitment, not only through passionate employees, but also in b-roll imagery of the process, so viewers can go behind the curtain and see what makes you tick.
  3. Make heroes. Show not only the commitment, but also the challenges customers throw at you and how you’ve risen to the challenge––both through expertise and sweat.
  4. Show the effect of that passion. Nothing does that better than true customer testimonials. Not scripted, rehearsed quotes, but by interviewing customers and getting honest, heartfelt answers.
  5. Keep them short. Less than two minutes is best, and make it feel like 45 seconds.
  6. Use good quality equipment. This is not the place to skimp so use good camera, lighting and sound equipment. Hire a good editor so it flows well, your color is crisp, and the sound is clear. This video should show that you stand for high quality.

You’ll see all 6 suggestions in these sample videos we put together for an insurance broker and a sustainability consultancy.

To find out more, sign up for the blog. If you do, you’ll be one of the first to hear when my new book comes out: Get Buy-In. How To Bring Movie Techniques and Storytelling To Your Presentations.

Five Tips to Becoming a More Powerful Presenter

One the biggest skills that determines promotions, salaries, recognition and sales is the ability to be a stellar presenter. Here are five tips to make you a star.

  1. Memorize and rehearse your presentation so you never have to read it or look at your slides. Almost no one does this (all the more reason to do it), but nothing is more impressive than a presenter showing that they know the information inside and out. Yes, it takes time, but if you put in the effort to rehearse, you will evoke so much more confidence in your audience — and you will have a better time.
  2. Show up at least 15 minutes early so you can test your computer and have the opening slide up when people arrive. It will also give you time to relax and get in the zone.
  3. Bring your own computer so you can minimize technical difficulties. Make sure you have the adapters you need to plug in via VGA and HDMI. Those are the two most popular standards.
  4. Get a good clicker so you know the feel and where all the buttons are. Like your blankie when you were a kid, it will also give you a feeling of comfort at a time when everyone is nervous.
  5. Stand up in front of the screen so everyone can see your gestures and feel your confidence. When you stand in front of them, rather than in the back be­hind the projector, your voice meets their gaze in a straight line so they feel your words. This boosts your credibility exponentially because they feel like they’re watching a leader, someone confident enough to stand up. It will also enable you to move forward to make the more delicate points, like a true consigliore.

Seriously, I cannot emphasize points 1 & 5 enough. It is the most effective way to stand out like a true champion, get buy-in for your ideas, and get the recognition you deserve. Plus, you’ll feel like a hero.


What We Learned About Getting Buy In

After years of working in advertising, strategy and consumer products, we learned that:

You need empathy for your cause. All business decisions are emotional as well as rational.
Decks don’t work because are too frequently used as information dumps, are the single most common and misused format, and are often shared without being effectively edited for the audience.

Stories work because they take the speaker out of his own head and into your world, building empathy and inspiring your team to take action.
Short movies are even better because they take the story to the next level with active visuals, dialogue and music.

When we realized what was missing in our business communications and thought about all of the projects that didn’t make it, we wanted to take what we learned to help others.

And that’s what we do at Backstories Studio through storytelling workshop, presentation consulting and corporate video production.

Upcoming Workshop at BEI

Bring Movie Storytelling Techniques to Your Project
Ted Frank, Story Strategist, Backstories Studio

Let’s turn your insights, strategy or innovative ideas into a c-suite-ready story that will get you heard. Learn how to find the story in complicated data and turn a boring slide into one that’s simple, powerful and visual. We’ll take it up a few notches and show you how to turn your project into an unforgettable story using movie-style techniques to create a movie that everyone will love. You’ll get a chance to apply these principles to your own projects.

October 21
San Jose Marriott
San Jose, CA



Showing a Chart as a Visual Story

Everyone in business seems to gravitate toward the trusty chart. They’re easy and everyone understands them, right?

The reality is that many charts are hard to understand without someone explaining them. No matter how much people “jazz them up,” they usually hold way too much information and don’t tell a story.

What if, instead, you phrased your key point as a very short story, with characters, a setting, a plot, and then added a visual to bring it home? We’ve found that stakeholders not only understand and remember the information better, but they can relay your information to their teams.

Here’s a quick example of a chart, then that same information expressed as a short story. The audience is realtors (as if it came from the corporate office of a company like CB Home). The visual is there because realtors seem to love cute to the point of sometimes being cheesy.
Bad Chart.001Puppy Clause.001

Such a difference, right? Can you even figure out what the point of the chart is? And who doesn’t like Puppy Clause.

In case you’d like to learn more and are in the Bay Area …

Upcoming Workshop – October 14th, 2015
Backstories Studio invites you to learn movie-style storytelling for your high-stakes projects
Led by Ted Frank, thought leader and speaker on movie-style storytelling, this workshop will give you what you need to tell a strategic story that inspires and gets you buy in.

Two things to bring:
A high-stakes, data-heavy project you need to present or have recently.
A story in any form (video, comic strip, written, etc.) that really moves you. Must be 5 minutes or less.
October 14 from 6-8 p.m.
Backstories Studio, 1400 Rollins Road, Studio M, Burlingame, CA
Cost: $25
Muse: Snacks, beer and wine included

Click on the Eventbrite button to RSVP