Video Storytelling — 3-Act Structure

Published | Oct 31, 2023

Can Storytelling Frameworks Really Make Business Videos That Much Better? 📊


This week we’re unlocking the secrets of compelling video storytelling. Have you ever found yourself completely engrossed in a video, losing track of time? That’s the magic of a well-crafted narrative, and more often than not, the 3-Act Structure is the wizard behind the curtain.

This time-tested framework is not just the backbone of blockbuster films; it’s a powerful tool that can elevate any video content, from marketing promos to educational courses.

In this report, we’ll dissect the 3-Act Structure, provide real-world examples, and offer actionable tips to transform your videos from good to unforgettable. So, grab your director’s chair, and let’s get started!


Why The 3-Act Structure

What is it?

Technically, the 3-Act Structure divides your narrative into three critical segments:

  • Act 1: The Setup – Introduces the characters, setting, and initial situation.
  • Act 2: The Confrontation – Presents challenges and conflicts that the main characters must overcome.
  • Act 3: The Resolution – Resolves the conflicts and brings the story to a satisfying conclusion.

What makes it work so well?

The 3-Act Structure is more than a storytelling gimmick; it’s a proven formula that brings clarity, engagement, and emotional resonance to your videos. Originating from the world of playwriting and later adopted by filmmakers, this structure has stood the test of time for one simple reason: it mirrors the human emotional journey.


Act 1: The Setup

The first act, often referred to as “The Setup,” is your opportunity to draw your audience into the world you’re creating. This is where you introduce the main characters, the setting, and the initial situation or problem. Remember main characters can be your product, service, client, customer, event, or even YOU!

The goal is to provide enough context so that the viewer understands what’s at stake and becomes invested in the outcome.

Real-World Example: Imagine you’re creating a video to introduce a new project management tool. In Act 1, you could introduce a team struggling with disorganization, missed deadlines, and communication breakdowns. This sets the stage for the problem your product will solve.

Practical Tips:

  • Start with a hook to grab attention.
  • Clearly define the problem or situation.
  • Introduce key characters or elements that will be important later.

External Resource: Mastering The Three Act Structure: A Comprehensive Guide


Act 2: The Confrontation

The second act, commonly known as “The Confrontation,” is the meat of your story. This is where your characters face challenges, make decisions, and undergo transformations. The tension should build steadily, leading to a climax that sets the stage for the final act.

Real-World Example: Continuing with the project management tool video, Act 2 could showcase the team trying various solutions without success, leading to mounting frustration. Then, they discover your tool and begin to see improvements, but not without facing some initial hurdles in implementation.

Practical Tips:

  • Introduce new challenges or complications.
  • Show character development or transformation.
  • Build tension leading to the climax.

External Resource: Masterclass: How to Write a 3-Act Structure


Act 3: The Resolution

The third act, known as “The Resolution,” is where all the threads of your story come together. This is the payoff for your audience, where the conflicts are resolved, and the characters reach a new equilibrium. The goal is to bring closure while leaving a lasting impression.

Real-World Example: In the final act of your project management tool video, the team has fully integrated your tool into their workflow. They are now meeting deadlines, communicating effectively, and even finding time for team-building activities. The story concludes with testimonials from satisfied team members, reinforcing the effectiveness of your solution.

Practical Tips:

  • Resolve the main conflicts or challenges.
  • Show the transformation or final state of the characters or situation.
  • End with a strong call-to-action or takeaway message.

External Resource: Write and Co.: A Satisfying Act Three


Conclusion

As you venture into your next video project, remember that storytelling is an art, but it’s an art that can be mastered with the right tools and techniques. The 3-Act Structure is your blueprint for success, so use it wisely and watch your engagement soar.


Additional Examples:

  • Corporate Training Video:
    • Act 1: Outline the skills that will be taught.
    • Act 2: Present the training material with interactive challenges, such as quizzes or real-world scenarios.
    • Act 3: Summarize key takeaways and outline the next steps for skill application.
  • Product Launch Video:
    • Act 1: Introduce the market gap your new product fills.
    • Act 2: Showcase the product features, include customer testimonials, and perhaps introduce a limited-time offer.
    • Act 3: Conclude with a special offer and a compelling call-to-action.
  • Personal Vlog:
    • Act 1: Share what the vlog will cover and why it’s important.
    • Act 2: Delve into the main content, such as a day-in-the-life or a special event, adding moments of tension or surprise.
    • Act 3: Conclude with reflections, shoutouts, and a teaser for the next vlog.

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