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Storytelling and brain science in sales & marketing videos [Film School for Marketers, Ep. 31]

Storytelling and brain science in sales & marketing videos [Film School for Marketers, Ep. 31] Blog Feature

Zach Basner

Director of Inbound Training and Video Strategy, Inbound and Video Workshop Trainer, Creator of the Facebook Group ‘Film School for Marketers’

December 18th, 2019 min read

When you think about how you’re communicating in your video content, have you ever considered the chemical reaction your viewers have?

My guess is probably not.

Oftentimes, if we were to define how we want our content to come across to our viewers we will use words like “engaging” or “trust-building.”

But is science at play when it comes to eliciting these responses?

In this episode of the Film School for Marketers Podcast, we’re sharing our thoughts from a TED Talk from communication expert David JP Phillips titled, “The Magical Science of Storytelling.”

We’ll be breaking down the chemical reactions that move your viewers to action, and the ones that prevent it.

Listen to the full episode here (or scroll down to watch the video):

Why is it important to consider the brain chemicals your videos produce?

First off, these aren’t things we learn in school — at least, I didn’t — but maybe should've.

If we’re not invoking the proper emotional response to our videos, we’re losing trust and opportunities and it's all chemical.

Put simply, David states that “The more emotionally invested you are in something, the less critical and the less objectively observant you become.”

With the right chemicals, we’re focused, motivated, trusting, and energetic.

But, with the wrong chemicals, we’re critical, indecisive, intolerant, memory impaired.

So the question is, which response would you prefer, and, what can you do to affect this in your viewer’s mind?

You can choose from one of David’s aptly named “cocktails,” the Angels Cocktail or the Devil’s Cocktail.

What is the “Angel’s Cocktail?”

Three chemicals make up this magical emotional response: dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. Each one has its own unique characteristics and ways to go about releasing them in your viewer’s brain.

Dopamine - increases focus, motivation, and memory

Dopamine can be released by creating suspense and cliffhangers. This feeling of anticipation makes us lean in and listen.

A simple way to work towards this is by creating great teasers at the beginning and throughout your video. Giving a strong preview or a sense of where the viewer is headed, assuming it’s strong, is what produces dopamine.

You can use this throughout your video by saying things like, “but more on that in a second” or “by the end of this video, you’ll be able to X and Y.”

Oxytocin - promotes generosity, creates trust, and a sense of humanity

To illustrate what oxytocin feels like, David shares a very personal story with the audience.

As you will experience if you watch it, it creates an unusual sense of bonding with him. He feels more human and trustworthy.

To create this experience in your own videos, you don’t even necessarily have to take it that far, with a personal story.

If you’re conscious of this chemical when creating anecdotes, you can produce a similar effect.

I once had a mentor who said, “it’s much easier to teach somebody something new when you start with something they already know.”

Similarly, you can present yourself in your videos as equal to the viewer.

As Will points out, Thad from the Metal Roofing Channel (Sheffield Metals, an IMPACT client) presents himself as though he’s learning alongside the viewers, and asking the questions he knows they have.

Endorphins - promotes creativity, relaxation, and improves focus

You’ve likely heard of these before.

Endorphins are released to give our brains and bodies a sense of well-being and are commonly released in times of physical or mental stress.

But, you can also produce this chemical by making people laugh, as David points out.

I believe variations of endorphins can also be produced by simply giving people what they are desperately looking for. Great answers and solutions to their fears, worries, and anxieties.

What is the “Devil’s Cocktail?”

Two components make up this unfavorable emotional reaction: adrenaline and cortisol.

These two chemicals promote emotional responses that make us intolerant, irritable, uncreative, critical, and memory impaired.

Of course, not many of us would want to do this intentionally, but how might we be doing it unconsciously?

A few things in your videos could be promoting this sense of stress:

  • Too much material or topics in one video
  • Jarring effects or distractions
  • Uncomfortable and stressful on-camera behavior

An uncomfortable person on-camera will oftentimes create an uncomfortable viewer.

Will prompts us to think of times when you’ve noticed that the presenter wasn’t very relaxed, or fumbling over their words.

Did you find it difficult to pay attention to what they were saying? Did you all of a sudden start psychoanalyzing that person? I know I’ve felt that way before.

So, how does all of this apply to They Ask, You Answer and my video content?

If you’re familiar with the philosophy that is They Ask, You Answer and/or you agree that we’re all in the business of trust, you’re already headed in the right direction.

So, when you think of how to apply the teachings of David JP Phillips to your content, consider this: when you produce content that’s valuable, honest, and transparent how does that make our viewers feel?

Furthermore, how can use great communication to make our viewers more focused, more motivated, and less critical?

I encourage you to watch the entire TED Talk from David and carefully consider how often you’re serving up the “Angel’s Cocktail” or the “Devil’s Cocktail.”

We’d love to hear from you!

First, subscribe to our Film School For Marketers Podcast.

Second, leave us a review on iTunes or share the love with fellow marketers and sales professionals who could benefit from our content.

Lastly, have a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know!

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