Digital storytelling: The art of thrilling your audience through a screen

7 minutes

We all have a story to tell, but no pressure! We won’t put the spotlight on you just yet. We’re going to talk about something else: digital storytelling, which allows everyone to unleash their creativity and tell their story that, while imperfect, feels real and thus more relatable.

What is digital storytelling?

It is the practice of using digital tools and media to tell stories. Digital storytelling can combine different formats such as text, images, interactive elements, video, and audio.

The audio can be music, a voice narration, or both. And as for interactive elements, they are a key vehicle for fundamentally impacting narrative through digital technology.

Through the addition of interactivity, telling a story ceases to be an act of one-way communication, and it instead becomes an active, participatory, and much richer experience for those who consume the content. For the story’s creators, this translates into increased attention and engagement or, in other words, the achievement of effective communication.

Digital narrative is transmitted through digital media such as web pages and blogs, social media channels, and mobile applications. The magic of digital storytelling is that anyone at any time and in any situation can create their content and tell their story.

The structure of digital storytelling contains more or less the same elements as all narratives: There is an audience, a narrator, and a plot. The plot will revolve around a conflict and will have one or more protagonists.

The differences arise when applying new technologies. Digital media multiplies the broadcast channels and content formats that can be included. In addition, there are other nuances of the digital world, as we will see below.

The famous 7 elements of digital storytelling

When talking about digital storytelling, it’s imperative to mention Joe Lambert, the forerunner of this art and founder of “The Digital Storytelling Workshop”, a project to support and amplify the sharing of digital stories. His definition of the seven elements of digital storytelling is well-known:

  1. Point of view
  2. Dramatic question
  3. Exciting content
  4. Recording of your voice
  5. Economy of resources and elements
  6. Rhythm
  7. Soundtrack

How about we talk a little bit about each of them? They are the ingredients for creative and successful storytelling.

1. Point of view

According to Lambert, all stories are personal. Digital narrative allows us to experiment with personal expression. There are more media and formats of communication than ever before, and they are within reach of everyone. These stories are often narrated in the first person, and the point of view of who tells the story is an essential part of it.

2. Dramatic question  

The dramatic question is the essential ingredient for maintaining your audience’s attention. It’s usually raised in a subtle way at the beginning of the story to intrigue the audience, and then resolved at the end.

3. Exciting content

Getting your audience excited is essential to an effective narrative. It’s the way to reach your audience’s hearts. The best way to connect with the audience is to appeal to the most human feelings, such as love, loss, vulnerability… feelings that we have all experienced and can connect with.

4. Recording of your voice

How can you make your narration as personal as possible? By recording your own voice. It’s important to practice for a more natural and attractive result. Patience is the most important thing here. There are also some tricks such as smiling as you record to achieve a friendly tone, or pretending you are speaking to someone nearby and speaking slowly making sure we enunciate well.

5. Economy of resources

We are not talking about the price of a piece of content, but about the importance of using resources well. And this is one of the most artistic parts, because every resource that is included must be made as expressive as possible, and effective in telling the story. The idea is to use as little text, dialog, images and videos as possible. Economy is also about making short stories, reflecting only the essentials.

6. Rhythm

The rhythm affects an incredibly important element of your storytelling: maintaining the interest of your audience. This part must be worked on by questioning the need to include each fragment, and knowing how to use the different effects to suggest the right emotions at each moment. The speed of transitions or visual effects or the use of light, for example, can express parts of the plot far beyond the images.

7. Soundtrack

The soundtrack is another element of expression that is very effective in provoking certain emotional responses or suggesting other nuances. Simply try watching your storytelling without music first and with music later to see how much music improves the content.

Applications and benefits

Digital storytelling is useful whenever you have the goal of telling a story or presenting an idea, getting the audience’s attention, and getting the audience excited. It’s especially noteworthy for its use in education and marketing.

It is important to understand that storytelling is not a content format, but an ingredient that has the ability to transform content and make it much more effective for the purpose it has been created for. Storytelling can be an element of any content, even if it is not narrative content. It can function as a guiding thread of a didactic unit, an infographic, an educational video…

Storytelling enriches any educational or brand content making it exciting and memorable.

How do you apply digital storytelling to education?

There are two approaches to applying storytelling to education. Each one has its own benefits.

  • Including it when creating your educational content. Turn any content into a story, and you’ll have your students motivated and hanging on to your words. Digital storytelling engages and allows you to create a learning environment that helps to enhance the connection between the teacher and the students.
    Encouraging students to create their own content and become protagonists in their stories. This second approach can be even more powerful, as it allows students to gain self-confidence, learn to communicate, improve their writing, and acquire skills in the handling of digital tools. In addition, the process enhances empathy among the students and their ability to work as a team. Moreover, their understanding of the topic with which they are practicing storytelling will be much deeper. It’s worth a try, don’t you think?


Using digital storytelling in marketing and some exciting examples

What is the secret of storytelling? Why does it work so well for marketing? Storytelling activates a number of areas in our brain that influence the way we perceive a brand, as it boosts emotional responses making the story more memorable. To excite the audience and be memorable is exactly what any brand is looking for. And of course, marketing cannot afford to miss that opportunity.

There are different ways to use digital storytelling in brand content. For example, it is becoming more and more common for brands to tell their story through different channels, thus showing their more personal side and connecting with their audience.

In the video below you can see Lego’s story. This poignant animation short contains many messages about the brand and product values.

Another way to apply storytelling is to create a story in which people who use the brand see themselves reflected or even feel inspired to improve.

Even more interesting than conveying the brand’s story is to encourage the public to share their own stories. It has been said many times, but we will say again: There is no better content for a brand than content created by its community, the famous UGC (user generated content).

An example of UGC: Under the slogan #ShotoniPhone and the premise that everyone has something to share, Apple has encouraged its community to create content that is part of the brand profile on Instagram. In this way, the community itself shows the quality of images and videos that can be achieved with the increasingly advanced cameras of Apple devices.

In the stories stored in Apple’s Instagram profile, there is a section called “Student Films”. The videos shown there are made by students , and each is more eloquent in expressing the quality of Apple cameras than any content the brand could create. The videos show the amazing effects that can be achieved simply with a mobile camera, without professional equipment, and also the making of the videos.

How to use digital storytelling with Genially

Good news: In Genially, you have (almost) everything you need to create your digital storytelling. The tool comes with a lot of features designed to make it easy for you to do so. Let’s recap:

  • By definition, digital storytelling can include many different formats within a creation. Genially integrates with all your favorite tools and leading content platforms so you can easily insert all the content formats you need to tell your story into your creation. Images, video, audio, maps, social media posts… whatever you want!
  • Content with digital storytelling is transmitted through webs, blogs, social media… You can insert your genially into any webpage and display it on social media posts while maintaining all its features.
  • Interactivity is one of the most powerful possibilities of digital storytelling. With Genially, you can create interactive content quickly and easily, without programming knowledge. You can empower your audience to participate effectively by creating pieces of content that invite them to explore.
  • You can record your voice from the Genially panel or include any audio file you want as a soundtrack to your storytelling by uploading it from your computer.
  • In Genially, you’ll find thousands of templates ready to include your storytelling, for both educational and marketing purposes or video marketing: infographic, gamification, presentations…
  • And finally, Genially is accessible to anyone: It’s free and easy to use.

As you can see, Genially has almost everything you need. The only thing missing is your story, do you have one to tell? Choose one of these templates and edit it to include your digital storytelling. Surprise your audience!

Templates to create educational digital storytelling

Magic and Witchcraft Quiz

Breakout: Mystery

Escape from Desert Island

Monsters Comic

Didactic Module

Templates to create digital storytelling in marketing

Professional Quiz

Visual Thinking Presentation

Memphis Presentation

Chat Presentation

Corporate Breakout

Natalia De la Peña Frade
Natalia De la Peña Frade
Content creator: I try to write things you like to read

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