There’s an old Harry Chapin song called “30,000 Pounds of Bananas” that tells the tale of Eugene Sesky, who died in 1965 when he crashed his delivery truck and spilled thousands of bananas across Scranton’s Route 307.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my three decades of producing corporate videos for top companies and universities, it’s that they often see video as a banana truck. It’s the big, fancy vehicle that gets them everywhere they want to go—and they want to chuck in as many bananas as possible.
When clients sit down with Tribe to discuss a video, they often back up the truck and unload a huge pile of bananas. They want to include their brand message and their corporate identity and their annual report and their org chart and their board of directors and their mission, vision, and values.
But remember this—if you overload the truck, you’ll be out of balance. It will be harder to drive, and you might even crash.
A good video doesn’t have to do all. A good video is in addition to, not instead of.
You’ll use it to compliment personal meetings, emails, op-eds, town halls, phone calls, direct mail, blogs, websites, and any other component that’s right for your communication plan.
A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports that when supermarket customers were offered samples of 6 different types of jam (or maybe banana bread), 30% of them purchased a jar of the jam. But when they were offered 24 different choices, only 3% ended up purchasing a jar.
Why? Too much information slows down communication and impairs choice.
The same thing occurs with corporate videos. You might want to include every impressive chart, graph, factoid and stat on that fifteen-page Power Point you spent two weekends producing (shouldn’t you have been cutting the grass or walking the dog?), but if you really care about outcomes and audience engagement, you’ll remember that audiences that feel overwhelmed will simply disengage. Less is more.
You’ll make a genuine connection with your audience—you’ll have a lasting impact—when you carefully select each banana and connect it to the higher purpose of who you are and why you exist. Show, don’t tell. Do in 5 seconds what others take 60 to accomplish. Pare down to the center, the essence, the most important thing.
When we sit down with a CEO or leader to start on a video project, we ask an important question: “What message would you give to an employee if you had just 60 seconds together?”
Some call it the elevator pitch. If you only had one elevator ride with someone, what would you spend that amount of time discussing?
That’s the same message we want to communicate in your video.
Get to the core. Don’t wreck the banana truck.