How To Tell a Story in 5 Easy Steps to Engage your Audience

Video Production

by | Jun 29, 2016 | Video Production

Every film, television show, and even corporate video all keep to the same, or a very similar formula.

They do it subconsciously, without the audience’s knowledge. It’s a formula as old as storytelling itself, and at Bizvideo we’ve mastered it- and we’d love to share it with you.

Following the formula is like following a recipe, however most business still get it wrong- and the evidence is on screen. Your video’s main objective is to engage the viewer (your target market)- anything more than that is a bonus.

From branding videos, to exposes, to case studies- we follow the same five steps on our story:

  1. Desire
  2. Conflict
  3. Journey/Solution
  4. Results

Target markets are varied, but all share a common trait- they’re humans. Human beings respond best to being stimulated emotionally.

You remember how you felt, more than you remember what you’ve seen.

Using the formula correctly gives you engagement on a primal level- and that’s how you deliver your message effectively.

No matter which sector your business lives in- your video needs to engage your potential client all the same. An information heavy video that throws facts & stats at the viewer is never successful, the video that creates an emotion or a connection always is. Give your audience a story, but a story built on our formula.


Our Hero

Every story needs a “hero”- a protagonist.


The protagonist can be a person, it can be a business or it can be an object or product.

What’s vital is the audience connects with our hero on a visceral level. If our hero is a person- then we need to know why he/she does what he/she does.

Establish that as soon as possible, and it’s easier to convey your message. If our hero is your business itself- then why does your business exist, and why do we need it? The same can be said for a product or an object.

Once all this is established- we can start to tell your tale.

The Story Telling Formula

1. Desire

The hero of our story needs a reason to do what they do- it’s as simple as that.


The reason Frodo leaves the shire is to destroy the ring. The reason Neo enters the Matrix is to save the world. Without a purpose for your hero- your narrative has no meaning. The desire can be a personal need, or a business wide ambition. Leave a legacy for your kids, get fit, make some money, make a cup of coffee- it can be big or small- your story needs to have a goal to achieve and the crux of your video is watching our hero achieve this goal.

This can be outlined through visual cues, or through audio via a voiceover or an interview. Music augments your visual and is key to creating the emotion you’re looking for.

This first part of our formula is perhaps the most essential as it’s the start of our narrative- the reason we keep watching. Fail here and people will switch off.

2. Conflict

Conflict is their to oppose our hero, to prevent them from achieving the predetermined desire.


Darth Vader is Luke’s conflict, the iceberg is the Titanic’s conflict. Your confliction normally comes from your antagonist- but can come from anywhere really. Conflict serves as a story extension, as a curiosity point, as a hook for our audience to continue watching and invest further into our hero’s story.

If there’s no adversity then there’s no story- it’s just a montage of happy images. Inherently we all want the good guy to win at the end, and, as much as we don’t like to admit it- our hero always does win at the end. The hero has to win by overcoming a conflict. Films, commercials and even real life corporates that challenge this idea- having our hero not come out on top at the end- usually fail to impress the viewer.

We want to see our hero overcome his/her/its conflicts- if you’re invested in the hero, you’re invested in the story. And overcoming obstacles, adversity and negativity is something we all strive to achieve daily in our own lives.

3. Journey/Solution

What the character does to overcome their adversity and achieve their desires- forms the journey, and ultimately the story’s solution.


In most of our videos we show the solution in this segment- although normally indirectly. What the story formula allows you to do is sell your product/idea without a sales pitch. Your audience is sold emotionally and subconsciously.

There’s no need to make it black and white and bog standard obvious- we’re connecting on an emotional and intellectual level- thus the solution is revealed through the story.

4. Results

The end of the video is to come full circle and explain the results and permutations of our hero’s journey.


Explain visually how the character overcame conflict and achieved the initial desire. If your story isn’t wrapped and easily digestible you’ll lose your audience right at the very end.

Ask anyone about their favorite film or TV show- and they’ll tell you they liked or didn’t like it based on the way it ended. Thus the conclusion’s significant importance.

Why Bother With a Formula?

Following a story is easier and much more effective when it keeps to a predetermined path.

The characters, facts and over all idea may vary from video to video- but it’s always the same steps. Different lyrics but the same beat. The beat may be faster or at a different pitch, but listen carefully and it’s always the same.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel- those that try invariably fail. People have been watching same story for a hundred years- and there’s a reason for that.

If you’re a business then stick to the formula- your client could be in the very same conflict your video presents. The desire to overcome is there, they’re just not sure how to achieve it. Alternatively your video could make your client aware of an issue they weren’t even aware they had- allowing your company to play a part in their own personal successful narrative.

Applying the formula in Testimonials, Customer Experience Films and Case Studies.

This approach also works really well with Case Studies and Customer Experience Films.

Our story recipe works just as well in case studies and customer experience films as it does in narrative driven videos. Customer Experience films should vary from testimonials- showing talking heads telling us how good their experience with a product or company is tired, let’s be honest- nobody likes those.

What a Customer Experience film gives an audience is a story, we take the audience of potential customers on a journey showing how the characters in these films made use of your company/product to overcome their conflicts and achieve their personal desires. We’d always suggest splitting these stories up depending on your intended audience.

For example- if your target market includes single woman, married woman with families, and retired woman, than let’s create three different stories with three different voices- each marketing the same thing. Create a video that speaks directly to a specific group of people- and your message will be heard much clearer.

To view our formula in action, check out some of the videos we’ve done- try to spot the path we’ve taken, and think about how it would apply in your own business.

Want to use story to engage your target market and have them excited about your brand? We've created a PDF document that explains the 4 steps to engage your clients.

About the Author


Corné Lategan

Corné Lategan is the Co-Founder and a Executive Producer at Bizvideo. In his down time he enjoys hanging out with his wife & doggie, family, playing squash & golf and traveling the world. He's been in the industry since 2007 & obtained a Bachelor of Film & Television at Bond University.

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