Dense detail is deadly.
It snuffs out creativity. Because you can’t see the wood for the trees.
What information do you work with? And what do you dump? Which details excite the expert … but may be red-herrings?
Want to cut out dead wood? And streamline the script?
Help experts chop down the detail forest. Here’s how.
Problem script: Too much detail
Why it happens
Experts go straight to the meaty stuff because i) it’s the detail that solves problems, ii) they want to be helpful and iii) it’s what marks them out as an expert and why they’re valued (in their world).
Problem script cure
i) Prime your expert – Re-direct their passion
Remind experts this is their subject, not the viewers’. Viewers need to solve problems, learn something new, do something different etc. They may not be intrinsically interested in, or care about, the topic itself. So encourage experts to shift their passion to solving people’s problems.
ii) Guide the expert to zoom out from the detail
For experts, the answer lies in the nitty gritty. But, it’s hard to tune into dense detail. Because we need an overarching theme or idea to hook the details onto. It’s another brain thing.
Normally, if we don’t know the gist – the meaning – of information we are unlikely to pay attention to its details.
It’s heading off the mechanic’s detailed description of a machine part – how the cogs move, lubrication types and the merits of different metal alloys. And prompting them to provide context that makes sense of the detail. What’s the part’s purpose? Why is it important? And how does it contribute to the working of the whole machine? Because people need perspective to understand the detail.
To help experts zoom out, and answer the question ‘so what?’ ask questions like these.
- What’s the purpose of ….?
- How does that relate to…?
- What’s this an example of …?
- What’s the result of this…?
- Why do people need it?
iii) Guide the expert to focus on the video goals
When experts say ‘Ooh, and another thing …’, be brutal.
Remind them it’s not about what they know. It’s about what viewers need to understand or do. So if that detail – however interesting (to them) – doesn’t help achieve the goal, cut it.
You force experts to make sense of the detail viewers do need. And drop the rest. So you don’t have to wade through pages of mind-numbing nitty-gritty with a red pen.
Save the creative team time and effort
Maybe you think coaching your expert up-front is a luxury. One you don’t have.
But it pays off. Think of it this way.
- You save time. Because you steer experts away from fascinating (to them) minutiae. So the creative team don’t have to unpick it.
- You free up the team’s creative energy. Because they’re not wrestling the details – stuff that strangles creativity. They can get on with doing what they do best.
Put simply, time spent coaching the expert makes the most of everyone’s talents and time.
Here’s how to avoid two more problem expert-scripts.