This 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition interview is with Splainers, a creative storytelling and animated video company. Below is a quick Q&A with Mark Smith, the Chief Explanation Officer.
Who is Splainers!? Tell us everything, just as you would someone approaching your booth and asking you this question at SHRM ‘19 in Las Vegas.
Splainers helps get your ideas/initiatives across by turning them into a story that resonates with your audience. We script, storyboard and then produce your idea – turning it into an engaging animated video. In short, we help explain things, and we’ve done so for hundreds of organizations.
Let us in on the magic. How do you utilize your own tech and processes to ensure you’re communicating effectively with your intended audience?
We use a process we’ve created called Story Focusing, where we ask a few key questions about your initiative:
Who is the audience?
What’s their world like without your idea? (see this video that we created)
What do you want them to do after they’ve seen the video?
Every story is a people story, Our Story Focuser document helps us connect your idea to your audience in a meaningful way, so that they’ll remember it and act on it.
We’re building a mnemonic structure that helps with information retention, and builds affinity.
What inspired you to found Splainers? Have you always had a passion for storytelling?
I founded Splainers after spending years creating stories in the entertainment industry. I recognized the need for injecting story into explanation after attending a large conference in Seattle, where 600 audience members had been lulled into a zombie-like stupor because of bad PowerPoint (you’ve been there, you know it!).
What are the biggest challenges companies face when communicating with their audience? How do they overcome those challenges?
Companies face several challenges when trying to communicate with their audience:
They tend to overdo it, packing in too much information (one of our big jobs at Splainers is to help cut!).
They don’t build their idea around a central visual or metaphor that helps their audience see the idea in terms familiar to them.
Organizations tend to talk only about themselves and their ideas. Think of idea flow like a first date – nobody wants to talk to a “me-monster.” Stories should always be about the person on the other end. It’s their discovery of these ideas and how they relate to them that matters,
What do you wish more HR professionals and recruiters knew about utilizing video lessons?
More HR professionals should know the strengths and limitations of video. When done right, they’re fantastic for framing things and getting across the big picture. They can engage, help people retain information and build affinity.
They’re not a great vehicle for details, and diving into the weeds. That’s best left for accompanying material (talk to us about this!).
For anyone who won’t be able to make it to the Splainers booth in Las Vegas, what do you want them to know?
We want any visitor who can’t make it by our Splainers booth to know we’d still love to hear about them, and their story. What are some of their ideas or initiatives that are not getting across, where they only hear radio silence?
But mostly, we’d like to ask them a simple question: “When is the last time one of your employees exclaimed, ‘OOH! I love HR PowerPoint presentations!’”
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