Language is Optional: Telling More Powerful Stories with Fewer Words

Voiceover narration, dialogue and words written on-screen can be very useful tools in crafting a video. They have their place, but they are by no means a necessity. The “language” of visuals alone can be extraordinarily powerful. In fact, crafting a narrative that doesn’t use any words can sometimes engage your audience far more than when they’re guided by voices. Even momentary breaks from words will help propel and deepen your story.

There Will Be Blood – Wordless for the first 15 minutes!

Check out this clip from the opening scene in the award-winning film There Will Be Blood. The film continues beyond this excerpt for quite some time wordlessly. Along with a stunning performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, a great source of its power is its lack of dialogue. The silence allows you to focus on the character’s situation—his isolation, his willpower, his strength.

The secret is this: words will tell you what you’re seeing, but silence builds curiosity. You’re drawn in because you have to figure out what’s going on, and you can’t wait to find out what will happen.

The power of video is that it allows you to craft someone else’s perception of the world for a time. Wordless narratives tap into that power because they allow the audience to see the world in the same way they normally do—without anyone narrating the scene. This places your audience in an active observer role, making them want to get involved in the story to see what conclusions they can draw on their own.

Bethesda Row’s Front Row Fashion Show

Marketing and communications videos don’t always involve a traditional narrative story, so a wordless video can wield a lot of power. In this promo Story Store Media produced for Federal Realty’s “The Front Row”, we let the cool catwalk speak for itself. Adding a hip soundtrack and reactions from the crowd, this video shows that the annual Bethesda fashion show is a must-see event.

Don’t underestimate your audience—they don’t need to have everything explicitly laid out for them. If you let their perception fill in the blanks, they will stay engaged and emotionally invested in your video.

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