Every video should connect with the viewer and inspire them to take a desired action. Easier said than done. So how do you do that?

Earlier this year, we had the privilege to create a series of videos for the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB)’s Education Summit for Parent Leaders. We thought we’d use this project to talk about a few things worth considering if you’re trying to connect with your audience.

First, a little about the project itself: We were asked to create a series of videos that would present an enormous amount of data and statistics to the summit’s audience… in an engaging matter. We needed to get the Summit participants excited, informed, motivated, and remind them why they were attending the conference in the first place: to close achievement gaps in children’s education.

But first things first: In order to inspire the audience, we had to connect with them. So we developed our concepts with these thoughts in mind:

1. Know who you’re addressing.

The Education Summit brought together 150 parent leaders from across the country to provide them with knowledge and skills to help them work with school leaders, with the ultimate goal of improving student achievement in their communities. No small task.

In order to get to know our audience a bit better, we worked with NAGB representatives to uncover important details about their lives. For example, we learned the Summit attendees were aged 25-50 and had school aged-children. They were well-educated and highly motivated to affect change. And they were also likely to be active in their communities.

These were key elements to consider when developing concepts for the video. For example, knowing attendees were actively engaged meant that they’d probably attended conferences before and were used to a certain style of video presentation.

Since they were well-educated and familiar with the subject matter, we knew we didn’t need to spend much time bringing them up-to-speed on the basic facts. We could get bold with the presentation.

2. Know what matters to them.

We knew that attendees cared deeply for childhood education, particularly because they most likely had children in the education system. But while they were familiar with the summit’s subject matter, they might not have known all of the facts about the importance of closing achievement gaps. We needed to present the material in a way that created a sense of urgency within parents to demand a change.

To do this, we asked the most basic questions: Why was this Summit taking place? What need was it trying to fill? Education achievement gaps need to be closed, but many people don’t understand the severity of this issue. Conversations with NAGB representatives confirmed that the summit needed to inspire a sense of urgency among parent leaders and encourage them to resolve the issue of achievement gaps. The video needed to do the same.

But when collecting information, it’s important to focus on not just the obvious, but the potentially overlooked. We noticed that although the summit was intended to benefit an entire generation of students, everything was presented by parents to parents. The children themselves had no representation. No voice. This realization sparked a ton of ideas.

3. Think Different.

So we focused on ways to make this video different: How could we stand out from typical conference videos that present information in a dull, dry manner, and how could we really hit home with the attendees?

We focused on a key point that surfaced within our early investigations—the fact that, oftentimes, statistics are released, only to be quickly forgotten. In order to counter this, we decided the material needed to be presented in a memorable way that the audience wouldn’t expect but would still easily understand. Luckily, the folks at NAGB encouraged us to explore this path.

4. Be Honest.

At this point, we knew wanted to make a bold statement, give the children a voice, and present information in an easy to understand manner.

But the dilemma remained: How did we present the information itself? These were smart people we were talking to. They would smell insincerity three miles away. These thoughts led to the idea to have the children “create” a video on their own to play at the summit. We would give the children their voice and allow them to present the information.

Rather than regurgitate data, we personalized it. We put faces to the statistics—told the story from the children’s perspective to make it more honest and real. After all, those could easily have been attendees’ children onscreen. We had the children directly address the camera, as though they were talking directly to the audience.

We even went so far as to film the children in the room where the conference took place, which added that extra connection and level of urgency — as though the kids may have broken into the room the night before the summit to broadcast this message—true childlike defiance. In the end, the kids challenged the adults to take action and reminded them why they were there. Connection complete.

The series is called: “A Message From Our Children.” We’ve embedded one of the videos below.

Did the connection work? We’d love to hear your thoughts!