The Language of Explanation

There’s a certain guide we always follow when creating the dialogue for our videos. It’s something we stress as being a major part of our process and one of the key reasons why our videos are so successful for our clients.

What is it you ask?

We always make sure to include metaphors and to tell a story. It’s as simple but important as that.

Metaphors and stories are a critical component of any successful explainer video because they tie new information to something that people are already knowledgeable about. It’s a simple recipe for repeatable success.

Here’s a more in-depth explanation of why this strategy is so effective.

The power of metaphors and stories

A really great way to teach people something new and to make sure they remember it is to connect something they’re learning with something they’re already familiar with.

For example, if you’re teaching kids how to solve a math problem, it makes sense to tie the problem to something they’re already interested in and knowledgeable of. A math problem about Angry Birds is more likely to keep their attention than a problem about the New York Times.

This is a very basic example, but it shows the power of connecting something being learned with something that’s already known. And metaphors and stories take this to a completely different level.

With a metaphor, you connect an abstract concept with something that people understand. You could compare how a rocket engine works to something that your audience is already familiar with. A rocket engine is complicated, but comparing it to something people already know makes the complex subject understandable.

Stories accomplish the same thing. They connect an abstract concept with an understandable story that people can relate to.

Dropbox did this very well with their now famous homepage video. They explained the need for cloud storage with a story of a person on a trip to Africa who took lots of photos only to see the computer they were stored on destroyed before the end of the trip. Most people haven’t travelled to Africa, but everyone was drawn in by the story and can relate to the problem.

At the time the video came out, cloud storage was an unknown concept, but the story of the tourist in Africa helped to illustrate how Dropbox would be useful in everyday experiences and the pain that it relieves. It connected an unknown concept to a relatable experience.

When someone connects new knowledge to something they’re familiar with, not only are they more likely to remember and understand, they’ll also have a deeper connection to the information. That new knowledge goes beyond being just a fun fact. It becomes something that the audience identifies with.

You might not remember anything about a 15 minute lecture, but you’ll remember a fairy tale you heard when you were younger. This has to do with the language of explanation, which is the most effective formula for mental connection. We connect to stories emotionally, not to numbers and facts. Numbers and facts can be googled, but the experience of a story can’t be relived and the simplicity of a metaphor can’t be duplicated.

If you’re looking to create an explainer video, we highly recommend focusing on a story that connects to an everyday experience and metaphors that make complex topics easy to understand. Follow this recipe, and you’ll be on your way to speaking the language of explanation.

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