May 15, 2017
As a video production company that helps organisations communicate ideas, data, and target consumers with impact – we often deal with difficult and sensitive content. It could be that the topic is taboo, emotionally provocative, or highly charged and complex. It might be that research has uncovered some uncomfortable truths and you are wondering how to deliver sensitive news. Conveying this information or insight in the right way is what will make the difference between good or bad communication and the viewers response.
Imagine your neighbour has asked you to look after their cat while they’ve gone away on a dream holiday. Perhaps it started well but now that old cliché has happened, you’ve left the door open and the cat’s gone missing. It’s bad news. You’ve had a call from the vet and you need to pass the news on to your neighbour.
The example above is extreme, but it’s a good example of when you might have to tell someone something difficult. We wouldn’t recommend recording a video to tell your neighbours that their cat has passed away, but video can be a very effective tool when conveying a difficult, sensitive or complex message. When using video to cover tough subject matter it’s important to follow the five steps below;
The first thing to get right is the tone. It’s no good knocking on your neighbour’s door saying, “Cat is dead” in a monotone voice and walking away. Getting the tone, accent and attitude behind your message right can be the difference between people understanding and empathising with your message or it getting lost.
For example, Co-op Insurance wanted to inform youth audiences of how their car insurance cost was calculated to remain transparent with their customers. We used a voice over artist with a friendly and familiar tone. How could we guarantee this tone I hear you ask? We used Coronation Street actress, Katherine Kelly, as her tone and voice would resonate better with people and help them trust the message.
When research respondents are talking about difficult subjects it is important that we hear about their background and general lifestyle information so we can put their comments into context.
For example, we worked on a project for Kellogg’s when parents talked about the ups and downs of being a working parent as part of its breakfast club initiative. Each parent shared their guilt around missing out on key moments in their children’s lives, but then went on to say how working brought another positive dimension to their life. Without hearing the context of why they missed out on key moments and the sadness this brings, and only hearing comments around the moments when parents enjoy a bit of me-time, the viewing audience would be left with a very different impression.
Regardless of what you are trying to communicate, if it is a difficult message or perhaps controversial – if you aren’t transparent with the viewer you risk losing their trust. Without this trust, it is impossible to get your message across and achieve the positive impact you are seeking. It’s important to tell the whole story and not be afraid to say certain things that are not positive so that you remain authentic and believable.
When dealing with a subject that is confusing or shocking people will always ask questions. These may be questions they ask themselves when watching your video, or they might get in touch to ask these questions. To help people understand and appreciate your message first time try to anticipate their questions and answer them in the video. By putting yourself in the mind of the viewer and watching it from their point of view this can help you pre-empt what they might think and cover it in the video first time. A simple way to do this is to ask the viewer the question ‘what does this mean for me?’ in the video.
If something is particularly hard to understand or confusing you will often find it requires you to explain it in more words. But video can help you explain complex or confusing data in fewer words through clear and concise animations. We often help research agencies convert wordy research documents into impactful, engaging and punchy animations that help get to the heart of the message and inform the viewer.
Whether you are researching sensitive topics, tackling highly emotional issues, or want to use animation to create an explainer video to convey a difficult or complex message, following these steps will ensure you create an empathetic impact. Using a video production company that is specialised in, and familiar with tackling sensitive and complex messages will ensure you get it right first time.
If you need support in conveying messages like this in the right way or are conducting research around a sensitive issue and want to make sure the interviews are carried out and filmed empathetically, then give us a call on 0208 786 8855 or fill in this web form and we will call you back.
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