By Andrew Angus on April 4, 2013

In today’s accelerated digital universe, time and language are being compressed at unprecedented rates. When conducting business, many people avoid meetings or phone calls because they take away too much time from their schedules. Some opt to communicate strictly via e-mail and others prefer texting. Clearly, shorter is better.

We have people contact us all the time about creating a video and they say, “Oh, you couldn’t possibly tell the story of our company in 60 or 90 seconds. It will take at least five minutes.”

Well, the truth is people are not going to watch a five- minute video and even if they do, it’s highly unlikely they’re really absorbing and retaining the information.

 What you have to realize is that your story has to solve someone else’s problem, and you have to come up with a way of expressing that concisely. One way to do that is to chunk the story into simple metaphors, so you’re connecting to knowledge people already have.

Here’s a simple, but appropriate example. Let’s say you have business that enables dog owners to meet other dog owners so their dogs can play together.

Dog Walkers

You go on to explain all the benefits of having two dogs interact and exercise together. You go into detail about how schedules can be matched up. Then, you talk about why the dogs also have to be well-suited to each other by size, breed, temperament, etc

Dogs PlayingFinally, you list all the reasons why your company does this better than anyone else’s.

List

A better way to communicate this story would be to say your service is like eHarmony for dogs. Most people already know what eHarmony is, so you can immediately tap into their long-term memory. Everyone knows what a dating service is and suddenly, you’ve already cut most of your story down to a sentence or two.

 A metaphor effectively distills a lot of incoming information and makes it easier for someone to connect it with prior knowledge. Once you have established this link, the more meaningful the connections are and the more accessible they will be later.

 At Switch, we spend a lot of time creating metaphors in our videos because they’re so powerful. A strong metaphor activates large areas of memory quickly and that’s what you want, because if you don’t connect the incoming information (working memory) with the viewer’s long-term memory in the first five to ten seconds, it’s lost.

It’s also critical to know your audience, to ensure they will understand the metaphors you’re employing. If you’re not talking about something in a way they will easily grasp, you’ve lost them.

 

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