6 Strategies to Simplify Video for Understanding

In video production, tackling complex topics and making them easily understandable is a crucial skill. Whether aiming to educate your audience or presenting intricate concepts, simplifying a topic is key to enhancing comprehension and engaging a wider viewership.

Anyone can simplify their video so the audience understands their story and its value by using these 6 practical strategies:

Master the Topic

To simplify a topic for a video, it’s essential to have a solid understanding of the content. Invest time in researching and exploring the subject. Identify the key aspects, core ideas, and any relevant terminology. Once you have a handle on the topic, you’re better equipped to break it down into simpler components.

Identify the Key Message

Every topic has a central message or main idea that forms its core. Distilling the topic to its essence allows you to communicate the key takeaways effectively. Directors can ask themselves, “What is the primary message I want my audience to take home?”

Once you identify the central message, structure your video around that core element, and cut everything else out. Any supporting information that does not directly relate to it, delete it—toss it on the cutting room floor.

Use Visual Metaphors and Analogies

Visual metaphors and analogies are powerful tools for simplifying complex concepts. They provide relatable contexts that help viewers connect unfamiliar ideas to something familiar. Look for similarities between the topic and everyday situations, objects, or processes.

By presenting the topic in terms of something the audience already understands, you bridge the gap between the known and the unknown. This makes it easier for the audience to comprehend the new information.

For example, if your video explores the intricacies of DNA replication, you could use the analogy of a zipper, with each side representing a DNA strand coming together to form a complete structure. This visual comparison simplifies the concept and aids in audience comprehension.

I recently talked with a group of insurance brokers. Critical to their sales was the client’s understanding of how the broker could relieve them of overwhelm. But, stating that fact won’t work because it would give a logical answer to an emotional question.

Instead, I recommended using a video with a metaphor. Picture an ocean of file folders floating on the surface of the water. The client barely keeps her head above water as she dog-paddles to stay afloat while scanning the vast number of folders, looking for the right Medicare combination. Then, the broker comes along in a boat, holds out three different folders, and the client picks the blue one. The boat floats off in the sunset with the client relaxing in a lounger on the deck, sipping a Mai Tai.

Anyone watching that short video would instantly know that the broker can stop the overwhelm and supply the best options for the client to choose. All done with a visual metaphor, with no words spoken.

Break It Down into Digestible Segments

Breaking a complex topic into smaller, manageable segments is crucial for simplification in videos. Identify the major subtopics or key steps within the larger concept and create a logical flow that guides viewers from one segment to the next. This approach prevents overwhelming your audience with excessive information and allows for a more structured exploration of the topic.

Use clear section titles or visually distinct transitions to segment your video. This visual organization helps viewers follow along and navigate through the content seamlessly. Consider providing real-life examples or case studies to demonstrate the practical application of each segment.

Eliminate Technical Jargon

Using technical terms and jargon can alienate an audience, hindering their understanding and engagement. The goal is to make the topic accessible to a broad range of viewers, regardless of their expertise. Therefore, avoid or minimize the use of specialized words whenever possible.

And no matter what, don’t use acronyms.

Instead, opt for straightforward, everyday language that everyone can understand. If you must include technical terms, ensure you define them clearly and concisely using visuals or on-screen text. Also, consider providing captions to make it easier for viewers to follow along.

Visualize and Incorporate Examples

Visual aids and examples play a vital role in simplifying complex topics in videos. People often learn better when they can see concepts or scenarios in action. Incorporate visual elements such as diagrams, animations, charts, or real-life footage to support your explanations.

The key is using relevant examples and practical scenarios to illustrate the application of the topic. By providing tangible demonstrations, the content becomes more relatable and engaging for viewers.

The goal of simplifying your message helps the audience understand the content and its value. Clarity and concise use of words take great effort and will beneficially pay off when the audience truly gets what you’re sharing and sees its value in their life. The simplified video will be a great hit.

Copyright © 2023 by CJ Powers

Tried & True #13 – The Director’s Horrifying Rewrite

© Pixelbliss - Fotolia.comWhen I think about Friday the 13th and all of its horror, I can’t help but consider the horrifying feeling a writer gets when the director starts hacking at his work. It gets even more complicated when the writer is the director and a part of a team of writers, which is my case with Tried & True.

For the past two weeks I dove into my script analysis from a director’s vantage point. I found a dozen scenes that didn’t move the story forward and I also found half dozen scenes that need to be added to the story – All to focus the story more tightly on the protagonist.

Ruthless Script Analysis

I do several analysis passes on a script in order to prepare for filming and discussions with each of my department heads. During the process, it becomes obvious which scenes are cinematic and which ones would make for a nice Movie of the Week (MOW).

My standard is to make the story so fascinating and cinematic that it has to play on the big screen. I also want to make sure the story is easy to follow and any complexities are used more as a garnish for the discerning viewer, rather than a plot interrupter for those who can’t or choose not to follow such details.

What I find interesting about the process is how many scenes stay intact with minor changes that tweak the perspective. I expect the pacing of the film to increase with the add precision or focus on the main character’s goals, but no matter how many times I’ve done this I’m always amazed at the new clarity that rises within the plotlines.

Complex stories always fail at the box office, but simple stories surrounded in a complexity of details do extremely well. It’s like listening to a great speaker. If he’s on point with his message, no matter how many supporting facts or stories he shares, people will always walk away knowing his specific three points with a desire to implement his recommendation.

Horrifying Cuts Bring Happiness

So the hacking began and I noticed a slight twitch in my pride. It was hard cutting scenes, but the final read was well worth it. Not to mention the benefits of reducing the page count to something more palatable for a courtroom drama.

I also noticed that the process helped me catch the typical contrived scenes that always seep into family friendly films. While these trite scenes have no place in a drama, they are endearing and hard to cut. The only solace received from cutting these scenes comes from the fact that no one notices they were cut. In other words, since they didn’t advance the story they couldn’t be missed.

Considering what elements in a scene must remain or be shifted to another scene makes for an interesting process. I sometimes wonder if I completely deleted a scene would it impact or change the story. If there is no impact, then it is one that must be cut. If, however, a couple elements are important, but could be relocated, then the scene is also worth cutting.

It’s only when the scene elements are so well integrated into the scene and critically important to the story that I have to keep it in the script. In those cases, I may have to find a way to punch up the scene to something worthy of the silver screen, or reanalyze the story structure to make sure I hadn’t veered off the path of clarity.

Horrified Co-Writers

One of the biggest issues during the analysis process is making sure you do something to save face for the other writers. I’m fortunate with Tried & True screenwriter Guy Cote, as he is always willing to bend on scene content when the replacement idea is far better or more focused than the previous draft.

Producer Anthony DeRosa is also willing to bend if he knows the scene works better for our audience. Since the film was written for Millennials, with added scenes that will help the Baby Boomers to embrace the story, we have quite the fine line to walk in how each scene is presented.

As for the Gen X audience, they too should be pleased with the story, but none of the scene elements were created with them in mind. However, GenXers are very resilient from having to play middleman between the Millennials and Baby Boomers that they will certainly be able to enjoy the story, if not embrace it.

Well, its time to get back to the script, as I’m still trying to figure out how to get rid of one last contrived scene. I’m hoping to shift into preproduction in the near future with the hopes that we can begin filming in late August or early September. So, the only real horror would be if I couldn’t have the script ready in time. Happy Friday the 13th.

Copyright © 2014 by CJ Powers