Bold Content How To Create Digital Content With A Lasting Impact On Your Audience

In his brilliant and engaging Ted talk Joshua Foer describes a technique for memorising information that I believe is relevant when creating content for your website. Whether it be a video, animation, photo rich blog post or interactive infographic the technique described could help your audience retain more of the information over a longer period of time.

Joshua demonstrates that people retain information much better when it connects with the visual and spatial parts of their brain. A UCL study shows that memory champions light up those parts of their brains when memorising inhumanly large streams of data. So if content creators can deliver their information in a way that lights up those parts of the brain then audiences are far more likely to retain key messages.

So how do we do that? Well one technique that Joshua demonstrates is to use visual storytelling to illustrate the information. He tells a story involving Cookie Monster and Mr Ed which was so visually rich that each step of the journey stayed with me long after the talk had finished.

Can we as content creators think about how to break up information into visually rich chunks in order to allow the audience to associate the visuals with the key information that marketeers want to deliver?

The potential to achieve this could be one of the reasons why video has proven to be such a powerful online sales tool.

One of the things that filmmakers are constantly thinking about is how to get the best looking, most striking visuals to use as cutaways during interviews so that people associate not just the images themselves but also the colour, the movement, the quality and the pacing of the edit with the information that the interviewee is delivering.

As an exercise I am going to try to script a corporate video whilst thinking of striking visual images to associate with key messages from the script. This might be in the form of storyboarded live action visuals or infographics or even animation. Perhaps a combination of the three would achieve the desired result. Either way Joshua’s talk got me interested in the use of this technique and I’ll report back with my findings and audience reaction to the video in a later blog post.

It’s rare that we storyboard interview cutaways as on a shoot you are so constrained by practicalities that it’s difficult to stick to a plan so instead we rely on shot lists and the Director’s creative ability to think on their feet. It’s the directors role to think about what the interviewee has been saying and to ensure we capture cutaways that are relevant to tell the story but also images that are iconic, that sum up the whole story and stay with the audience as an aide memoir to the narrative’s more salient points.

When we work on infographics or animations we are very much thinking in terms of visuals to underline the narrative. However, too often it’s easy to slip into the trick of illustrating what it says in the script or showing obvious icons that relate to the voice over. It’s always a good idea to have a second or third pass as writing out the visuals but this time taking the approach of thinking outside the box and trying to come up with creative visual metaphors that will stick in the audience’s mind. Character animation is a great way of achieving this as you can create a memorable style that will become associated with the video message.

The Australian rail safety video ‘Dumb ways to die’ is a fantastic example of an important message which has become associated with a style of character animation and is imminently memorable because of it.

Recently we have been working on some exciting new interactive infographics for Coca-Cola which have allowed us to consider how strong visuals can help the audience to retain information but also how spatial relationships come into play. The interactive elements within the infographic allow the audience to get hands on, to push buttons and move things around. Information pops up on screen and users can control their own journeys through the content. I believe that the techniques demonstrated in Joshua’s talk prove that this will be a powerful tool for audiences to gather, enjoy and retain new information.

If you happen to try Joshua’s technique in any form of visual marketing communications, whether that be print material, OOH or video please let us know as we would be fascinated to hear the results.


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