How A Business Video Is Just Like An Essay

An essay is an argument. It has a clear position and is designed to prove it. Here’s how a well-made corporate video can learn from this rigid structure.
Many business videos have multiple messages that they want to get across, and a common mistake to make is to present one message after another without giving enough thought to the internal organisation of those messages. Like a good essay, a good video structure can be assembled as follows.


Good Business Videos Follow The Same Format As Good Essays:


State what you’re subject/argument is, and indicate what you're going to say about it. Introduce your business, tool, product or innovation early on in the piece, and engage the viewer by focusing on what’s interesting about it. For a concise business video, this would equate to around 20 seconds.



Here’s where you have your sub-categories, segmenting each of your messages just like paragraphs in the body of an essay. Sometimes these are more subtle, or sometimes they are overt, such as with voiceover or text headings on the screen – each is a discreet idea or concept. By separating these out, we can make every point clearly and give each message the concise focus that it needs, as well as keep the viewer interested as they conceive of the video evolving from point to point.

Like an essay, in the body of the work you also need to back up your claims. Be sure to cite evidence in place of making unfounded statements about your subject. Do it with humour, by all means, but position yourself as the authority on your subject by giving your viewers good reason to trust you.

You could look at the video body as ideally containing a few key concepts, each taking 10-30 seconds to convey, as a guide.



Remind the viewer of the key takeaways that they should have gained from your presentation. Sum up your key points, and draw your conclusion, which often in a corporate video will be your call-to-action – the above evidence, if you’ve argued your essay subject well, points to the steps that you want your viewer to take.



Just like a great essay is easy to read and digest by the way that the writer makes the words flow and moves you from one concept to another throughout, the transitions in a video help move the viewer from one idea to the next. We learn from Hollywood tricks in a lot of ways to make transitions seamless, so as not to jar the viewer but to feed them persuasively and smoothly into the next idea – things like cutting on a movement and cross-fades. Here’s a great showcase of Edgar Wright’s spectacular editing transitions in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.