How to Tell Better Visual Stories

Are you struggling to get visible? Do you have a dream on your heart or a message to share but you’re not getting traction or engagement? Have you tried all the courses and bought all the things but when it comes to creating content, you just feel stuck and maybe a little (or a lot) defeated? This article is for you!

Homeplace Creative Studio featuring a gridded blue background with two yellow chairs

Are you struggling to get visible? Do you have a dream on your heart or a message to share but you’re not getting traction or engagement? Have you tried all the courses and bought all the things but when it comes to creating content, you just feel stuck and maybe a little (or a lot) defeated?

If you answered “yes,” to any of those questions, I want you to keep reading or watch the vlog below for some simple and easy to apply tips to tell better stories and amplify your messaging!

As a visual storyteller for almost 20 years now, I’ve picked up some tips to help tell more effective and engaging stories. This insight comes from work as a former television journalist, founder and video storyteller for Homeplace Creative, a visual storytelling firm focused on sharing stories to build communities, and research as a communications professor at a small liberal arts university.

Here are some of best tips to help you tell better visual stories:

Tip #1: Show up in ways that are mindful, artful, and creative

Don’t try to create stories the same way everyone else is doing it! Create stories that are meaningful to your audience and to you! You don’t have to be an artist to create insightful, inspiring visual content, but you do have to create stories that are true to you!

This tip is the most important one for creators, because the entire point of creating content is to forge connections so that you can build relationships. In order to reap the benefits of your work, you’re going to have to put some thought into it and you’re going to have to make it uniquely yours.

The good news is that there is only one you and your stories seek to share your view of the world – make them good ones.

Tip #2: Aim for the three C’s: Connection, Community, and Creativity

When embarking on any storytelling endeavor your chief aim should be connection. As humans, we’re wired for connection and storytelling has been our preferred method for centuries. In our modern storytelling, we’re connecting more than ever thanks to social media platforms. With your content, aim for deep connection and not the shallow vanity metrics. In other words, engage with others, listen and reciprocate connection, as you build relationships.

Tip #3: Decide How You Want Your Audience to Feel?

Good storytelling is all about emotion. From the outset of planning content or deciding what stories to tell, you should decide how you want your audience to feel after viewing. What do you want to remember or take away from your story? Are you aiming to make them laugh, cry, get motivated? Figuring out where you want them to emotionally land is the first step to creating emotional connections through story (and that’s your goal, remember?)

Tip #4: Where Can We Go?

After you’ve decided what feeling you want to leave your audience with at the end of your story, you’ll need to think through the narrative arc (beginning, middle, and end) to get them there. Don’t get too hung up here, we’re talking about stories that will be conveyed quickly. Be mindful of creating a scene and sharing a reflection that they carry with them beyond the story. You’ve all heard the saying, “a picture tells a thousand words” – keep that in mind when creating visual content and see tip #1 ;).

Tip #5: Find Inspiration in Everyday Life

The most common adage I hear from students and clients is that they just don’t have any stories to tell because their lives are boring. This one fully exasperates me. If you said this yourself or you’re just getting burned out on creating content, read these next words carefully and maybe put them on a sticky note. You are living an incredibly beautiful life, you just have to see it. 

One of the best tricks of the storytelling trade is to make the ordinary, extraordinary. Storytellers see the things the rest of us tend to overlook – the way a child grabs her mother’s hand, the way hands clasp nervously around a cup of a coffee, the smile of triumph as a runner makes it up the hill. These moments are good ones, the ones in which we recognize genuine human emotion. They’re also everywhere, you’ve just got to open your eyes to see them first and get good at capturing them later. 

So if you’re stuck – hunt down the moments that matter.

Tip #6: Let your branding become a daily meditation in gratitude

A funny thing starts to happen when you start paying attention to the moments with clients and in your own life – you start to feel grateful for them. Gratitude will help inspire you to keep going and want to create more of these precious moments, an added bonus to the emotional connections you’ll make with audiences, too. 

Tip #7: Focus on moments, not things

Can we just not post flying, flipping products anymore? Sure, your products and services are amazing, I know! But how do people feel when they use them, what are the moments (see tip #5) that communicate their value? How can you use stories to glimpse these cherished moments of transformation? Thinking through how to focus on moments, not the things is how you make an emotional connection through a visual story. 

Tip #8: Turn the sound off. Close Your Eyes.

This tip is a bonus one for video creators! To apply it, simply close your eyes and listen to your video story – does it make sense? Can you make an emotional connection?

And vice versa, if you mute the sound and only watch the video, can you follow the narrative? Are you moved? You should be able to answer these questions when applying this tip!

I hope these tips inspire you as you create visual stories. I know content creation can feel like a grind, but I do think that with thoughtful visual story creation, we can stay motivated and grounded in the work you do!