The Art of Storytelling – Getting Emotional, Getting Shares

Posted on: by Michael Tringe

What do baby Sumo festivals have in common with your stories? Emotion! That kid is afraid of something – and we instantly want to know more.


Have you ever tried to tell a story that fell totally flat or clicked away from a video you just didn’t care to finish? So how do you make a story stick out or inspire people to share it? Advertisers know emotion works – and these are all ads that somebody shared with me because it moved them in some way.



The most watched car commercial on YouTube (66M views and counting) is not because of the car – it’s because of an actor who captures our attention through his emotion or seeming overcoming of fear, and a very cool concept designed to scare the crap out of men especially. All based on a fascinatingly simple camera trick (and some great stuntwork) – with a camera zoom out, where the camera reveals the true position of Van Damme doing the splits between two vehicles. That was a somewhat technical example in the art of storytelling, so let’s take a few others.


The WestJet Christmas miracle video (34M views) shows a tried and true concept – giving someone a present makes them feel good. Boring until you put passengers who made a wish for a gift on a plane and then surprise them on the other end when they actually receive that gift. We’re so impressed by the hard work of the crew to accomplish this crazy task and so pumped for the passengers at the end because who knows maybe this Christmas miracle could happen for us too?


The Apple Christmas iPhone commercial (6M Views) where the mopey young kid stares at his phone for the entire first part of the family gathering almost feels melancholy – but it draws us into his story. Why is he so separated – and when he overcomes his family blues and is able to see them in a whole new way through the camera on his phone, we see the emotions of joy in his whole family when they all come together. The story concept is a simple one – sad kid uses a communication technology where he likes to lose himself to bring his whole family together in a joyful resolution.


So what can you learn from the art of storytelling with emotion to give your video a more emotional draw?

1. Cast a great actor who can capture the emotion you’re going for.

2. Make sure that your concept has an emotional element to it – are you aiming to make people laugh, cry, feel hope?

3. Add music that sets the tone for your story. Even if you don’t have the rights to Enya, you can find some great music that will get us in the mood.

Whatever kind of video you’re creating, remember it needs to have some kind of emotional element to it. That’s what makes film and video special, and that’s why people will actually watch, engage, and share your video.


Share your videos with us at! We’ll review them, share them with our community, and get back to you about how we felt about them.

You may also enjoy these posts on the art of storytelling.

Developing a Fundraising Video

How to Tell Your Story

Developing a Web Series

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Written by Michael Tringe

Mike Tringe earned his MFA in Film Production from USC and has worked at Creative Artists Agency Film Sales (Paranormal Activity, Black Swan), Vuguru, Michael Eisner's multi-platform studio, (The Booth at the End (Hulu), Don't Ask, Don't Tell (Snag), Little Women Big Cars (AOL), and Blip Networks (300 million monthly views, Smosh, Annoying Orange, Nostalgia Critic).

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