Engaging Stories

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I’ve shown The Girl Effect video to several audiences. The reaction is always emotional. Though the goal of this video is not necessarily instruction, it is a masterpiece of storytelling. Relatable character. Strong conflict. And it is directly linked to the action it’s audience should take.

After you view the video, post your observations in the comments below. What was your response emotionally? Who is the relatable character? Why is she relatable? What is the conflict? What action is the audience supposed to take?

Watch the video again with an eye for detail. What makes this video so engaging? Take note of elements of the video that are surprising, mysterious and build curiosity. It builds credibility and breaks down an enormous problem into a small possible solution. It fits into the category of communication and marketing, but we can learn from this.


14 thoughts on “Engaging Stories”

  1. This piece fills me with a roller coaster of emotions. First it’s sadness for the world we’re living in, but as the girl is introduced, it becomes hope. Hope for not only the girl, but hope that I as a singular individual can make a difference in not only one girl’s life, but also have an impact on the world. The relatabilty of the girl comes from the use of text as the primary imagery allowing the audience to build their own image of her in their heads. Allowing the audience to create that image often allows them to project familiar characteristics on to the subject and creates a tighter bond with her. The strong call to action message drives the viewer to be that change they want in the world.


  2. The first few seconds felt overwhelming with the text coming in so fast. Then everything slams to a stop for the word girl. By the end, it had a strong emotional impact. It made you feel as though your small donations to one girl could start the change that could ultimately improve the entire world. We often feel that we are so small and can’t make change because we are one person. This video taps into that by getting you to buy into the fact that you (one small person) giving one small donation to one girl will will ultimately benefit the world. It leaves you feeling that if you don’t donate you are aiding to the destruction of the world. No one wants that on their conscious!


  3. Such a simple format, but so impactful! By omitting pictures, each person is allowed to form their own relatable mental image. The call for action is simple (just do this one thing) but strong (see what the results could be!). The beat of the music, selection of font size and pacing of the story add to the drama and sense of urgency. This story approach illustrates how breaking a huge issue down into smaller chunks can result in achievable action: I may not feel adequate to change the world, but I can certainly help one girl!


  4. This video is moving for many reasons. First, visualizing a girl living in poverty brings makes the story feel more real. This is also a powerful video because you are able to see how equitable changes, such as education for all people, can advance the lives of those living in poverty. Additionally, it is powerful because the narrator shows what steps this woman you have pictured can take to make great changes for herself and her community.

    I think the message of investing in girls throughout the world is powerful!


  5. The video is designed to inspire belief in the viewer’s ability to change the world, to make a difference through a small, everyday action. It does this by crafting a causal chain of little steps that can lead to tragedy or its opposite. What makes it relatable is the protagonist, who is simply a “girl” like any other.

    The narrative plays with a kind of slippery slope, one that feels familiar enough to be able to identify with its essential qualities: eliminating socioeconomic challenges for a single person can become transformative and have a larger lasting impact on the community that individual lives in. More than that, if each of the 600 million girls has that chance, there is a global effect.

    What makes it powerful is how it simplifies a large problem into a single act: Invest. Doing this—investing in even one girl—makes the donor the agent of change: “You changed history.”

    The story builds up enough moral tension to empower the viewer to resolve the apparent conflict. This drives the video’s imperative: to give.


  6. I appreciate how the story unfolds without images of an actual girl; the dots, along with the music and text fill the imagination with a sense of possibility and hope, and invite us to consider the impact millions of girls could have on their villages. The summary at the end of quickly flashing the key elements of the video simplify a very complex movement, which galvanizes action.


  7. I felt hope for the girl, and for all of us because I imagined her and took the journey with her. The speed of the text creates a sense of urgency that is supported by the background music. The text size communicates importance of the ideas. The planet earth (Carl Sagan’s blue dot?) communicates immediately that whatever this is about, it is important to all of us. When the concept of the girl appears the color changes to a bright background and there is a pause to let it sink in that this is the heroine of the story. The music and font color changes to support this positive part of the story.


  8. The things that struck me were the pacing was very fast so it required me to pay attention or miss something and also created a sense of urgency. (Pacing is a big thing with me as sometimes it can be too slow and I get bored. This pacing challenged me to keep up.) Additionally, the simplicity of just using text to convey the message (with music and very minimal other graphics) kept the focus on the story. Finally, great tag line: “Invest in a girl and she will do the rest.” It sums up the message very well and is memorable. And they did a good job tying one girl’s story (in a very different situation than mine) to the whole world and humanity so that girl’s success impacted me as part of the world and humanity. When the girl improved the world economy, that included my economy.


  9. The video is able to take an issue that many see as too big for them to make a difference and makes it more personal – you are able to make a difference – one person at a time. A larger issue can always be broken down into components that you can influence. The video helps to viewer see that. Good use of story to put a face onto the problem.


  10. The story make you feel sympathy for the young girl that is described in the video. The viewer is able to relate to the character described in the video because the words help create an image of the character and her dilemma. This is how emotion is expressed throughout the video. This message encourages the viewer to donate towards the cause that can help in changing the character’s circumstances.


  11. They build dramatic tension through the music and pacing, and gain a deep level of engagement by making the watcher read instead of hear the message. I think that’s a powerful way to do it because it forces us to focus fully on the video to catch everything, but the danger is it wouldn’t work with audiences that can’t read at that speed (or at all). It also takes a huge issue (and let’s you know how huge it is) and breaks it down into something small and actionable – donating.


  12. The video uses drama – music/symbols/words to convey hopelessness (the world is a mess) to hopefulness (a girl can change the world) but only if WE (the viewers) ACT (do something)


  13. The video alerts you to the struggles of those in poverty. It inspires you to help create positive change through upbeat music and context directed toward your emotions.


  14. We see the girl and feel empathy, guilt, compassion and the real struggle because we created her in our heads. The movement and quickness of the text provides a huge sense of urgency and the driving music makes us want to help. The call to action stays with you because it is constantly there reminding you and in the way of some of the other text. Donate.


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