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How to use storytelling in your next corporate video

The Business Magazine article image for: How to use storytelling in your next corporate video
8 April 2022

The world is awash with time-sapping corporate videos lacking storytelling which then renders them unable to tap into our emotions, tell us something we don’t know or teach us something new.

The power of story is not lost on video production company Sightline whose motto is 'We Tell Stories' and, as founder Keith Thomas explains, it is this acute appreciation of the power of a story that has led to the firm's success alongside a razor-sharp focus on customer trust and service.

Sightline was acquired by Black Ox, publishers of The Business Magazine, in April this year with all staff from the Guildford-based video production firm moving across.

Keith, who founded Sightline 35 years ago, explains that the first step to take when crafting a video for a product or service is to consider where the video will sit in the company’s marketing strategy and what purpose it will serve.

He said: "Nearly all videos are about telling stories. It doesn't matter what it’s for, whether it is an explainer video, a training video, a corporate video or a case study video. You are telling stories.

 "So, will the video sit at the end of a person’s online search, for example, where they have made the decision to purchase a product and needs advice on what to do with it?

“Or is it at the beginning of their search and they will come across the video via a search engine?"

“Or is for presenting at a meeting, conference or exhibition?”

Once the purpose and place of your video has been established, the next stage is to determine its style, with each video style aligned to the type of story you have to tell and the audience you need to engage with.

Keith said: "There are various ways of telling your story on video."One is from the horse's mouth (talking heads) where you interview people on-camera who collectively provide the narrative and film and weave in appropriate supporting footage and graphics to support their messages.

You have to consider who the key players are and what their role will be in advancing the story. A talking-heads style works well if your contributors can confidently deliver straight-forward messages.

“Another is a storyboard-based video with a crafted voice-over set under footage we film and/or animations we create. It all depends on the purpose of the video.”

"Once the style for the video has been decided then it is time to build a story structure which is the who, what, why, where and when."

Reward is key, according to Keith, and every video producer should think about what the viewer is gaining from watching their creation.

Is it teaching them new skills, helping them learn about a new topic or is it tapping into their emotions by inspiring them to change a part of their lives by buying a product or service?

Keith said: "You also need to consider how the audience response to the video will benefit the client."


Sightline was founded in 1986 and has built a strong industry reputation for the quality of its video productions and animations alongside the services that it provides to its clients.

Its work spans many sectors including videos for the NHS, BAM, Amazon, UK Civil Service, RugDoctor, numerous councils and housing organisations, and a number of the country's top universities.

Keith said this strong reputation has been built through developing trust with clients.

He said: "The key to developing and growing our client base has been down to our 'can do' attitude.

"If a client comes to us with a request our team will creatively come up with solutions for how it can be achieved.

"After 35 years of making videos, there really isn't any type of video that we can't do.

"We have also developed trust with clients in that they trust us to deliver what we promise.”


The landscape for producing video has changed markedly since Sightline launched in 1986.

Drag and drop editing tools were a pipe dream meaning edits regularly dragged into the early hours of the morning only to start from scratch again once client revisions were received the next day.


Keith said: "You would have three video tape machines set up so you could dissolve from one rushes tape into another and onto the edit tape.

"Then you would present the video to the client and if they asked you to move a sequence to earlier in the video this often involved recompiling the edit all over again.

"When non-linear editing came in in the early 90’s it was an absolute godsend. Being able to drag and drop clips on a timeline was a game changer; it was like going from black and white TV to colour."


What is the next great step forward for video? Keith believes visual experiences where people can interact with the surroundings of their video are key.

He said: "360 videos give a visual experience of being there which for some things is quite exciting but can be a bit dull after you have watched it a few times.

"We introduced 360-Tours a few years ago where the viewer can click on hotspots to trigger video inserts or test inserts providing information about items in the environment.

"There is good potential here for the gallery and stately home market."

Keith said: “Interactive videos where a main video provides access to a network of subsidiary videos is an excellent tool for training.”


Video accessibility especially for people hard of hearing is also improving, according to Keith, who says that there have been major advances when it comes to adding closed-captions and sign language.

He said: "Adding closed-captions has become a lot easier with a lot of editing packages having auto-transcription as a feature.

"We do still have to go through the transcription and check for punctuation and the software can sometimes struggle with strong regional accents, however overall auto-transcribing is another game- changer for the industry in terms of speeding up delivery.

"We do a lot of work for the Civil Service and they insist that along with closed-captions and audio description the psychometric testing videos we produce for their recruitment platform also have British Sign Language.”


Stephen Emerson is the Managing Editor of The Business Magazine and is responsible for the publication's print publications and online properties including the newly launched Biz News websites in Hampshire and Dorset.

Stephen has been a journalist for 20 years and has worked at local, regional and national publications and led a team which made The Scotsman website one of the fastest growing news sites in the UK with over eight million monthly users.

He has a keen interest in technology, property and corporate finance and telling the stories of the people behind the successful firms in these sectors.

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