How do you come off as authentic in a content-riddled world? It seems everything’s been done already, and you don’t want to come off as a carbon copy of every other documentary, reel, or commercial out in the world. You want people to care about the work you do… so how does it get done?
1. Be passionate. Believe in the message.
Your audience can smell inauthenticity from a million miles away. When a company doesn’t care to research an issue or think carefully about the message they want to send their audience, it’s often labeled as a PR move; it comes off as false, corny, or bland. It can even come off as ignorant or downright insulting.
Take, for example, this controversial commercial starring Kendall Jenner. This commercial received massive backlash after audiences said the video made light of police brutality, especially in an era where mainstream audiences have become increasingly aware of the unequal treatment of black Americans by police officers. At the very least, it is an example of tone-deafness and confusing messaging.
2. Show, don’t tell. Trust your audience’s intelligence.
It is incredibly tempting to hold your audience’s hand. You want them to know what you know. However, a trap many storytellers fall into, whether you’re a writer for a novel or a video producer, is telling the audience rather than showing: telling a person they should be sad, telling them they should care about an issue, or telling them why their opinion is more important. Showing someone has proven to be more effective, because a viewer will have their own unique interpretation of what is happening on screen, and it will therefore be more powerful.
What does “telling” even mean in this context? In video production, it can look like a few things. For example, you might want to film a documentary about the philanthropic work you’ve done in another country, so you want to make a video telling a grant committee about it to earn more funds to do more great work. Instead of hiring a voiceover person say, “We did lots of good things in Vietnam, like fundraising for a nonprofit,” you might instead show the footage of the actual fundraiser, with interviews, reactions, and footage of smiling children.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules for showing and not telling. But trusting that your audience will understand the message behind the video without you holding their hand the whole way creates much more compelling stories.
At the end of the day, you won’t always create the most unique content in the world, but being bold enough to showcase your passion and tell stories in an engaging way is a great way to really connect with your viewers. Humans like to hear human stories, see human moments, and relate to very human emotions and experiences. You can create those connections by fostering authenticity.