Storytelling’s hot in marketing and fundraising, and it’s doubly important if you’re going to make a video. Storytelling is serious business, but we propose that if you’re going to make a video a good way to limber up your storytelling muscles is to try this fun storytelling tool, with the Zimmer Twins–and their cat, “13.”Zimmertwinspluscat

Make a video that’s silly and improve your serious videos

The Zimmer Twins, a site devoted to kids and creative storytelling, offers a tool that lets you make a video that’s decidedly un-serious. With a simple drag-and-drop method, you string together little clips involving three characters, a selection of environments, and actions like chasing, dancing, shouting, opening mystery boxes, and other highly silly activities. It’s all designed for kids that want to make a video, but, dare we say it, we had a lot of fun with it too, and it got us thinking about storytelling. The tool lets you choose from different actions, assign the character or (for some actions) characters, the setting, what a character is holding (or, for example, stealing, or dropping), and what he or she says. As you can see in the image, users change options such as which character appears in each building block by means of dropdown menus.Edgar yells in the alley

When you make a video with the Zimmer Twins you can also change the order of the blocks by drag-and-drop—a numbered tool bar lets you change the order. (YouTube’s online video editor uses a similar method.) All this functionality when you make a video leads to such questions as: How does the drama of the story change when you suddenly insert a cell phone call?  How can you work the cat into your story you have, or is it just too many characters?  How can you help the audience identify with a main character and an issue they have?  What contributes  audience’s investment in that character?  What happens if you flip the order of events around? It’s a great way to study storytelling–and have fun, too.

Other ways to improve storytelling when you make a video

A couple of upcoming events will also help you explore storytelling further, even though there won’t be any crowd surfing or teleportation (you’ll have to stick with the Zimmer Twins for that). MiniMatters’ own Elissa Leif will be at the Association Foundation Group National Conference on May 9 in Washington, DC, presenting on “Stories of Passion: Tips for Capturing and Communicating the Stories of Your Member-Donors” together with Mary Bet Dobson of the American Chemical Society. She’ll also be presenting with Kathy Swayze, CFRE of Impact Communications on the subject of “Inspired Storytelling” on May 30 as part of Planned Giving Days 2013.

What’s your favorite tip for keeping an audience invested in your main character (whether when you make a video or when you tell stories in other media)? Let us know in the comments!

If MiniMatters can help you with business video, fundraising video, association video, or other video production needs, we’d love to provide an estimate through our online form, talk with you at 301-339-0339, or communicate via email at [email protected]. We serve associations, foundations, nonprofits, and businesses primarily in Washington, DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia.