Have You Made This Critical Content Creation Mistake?

IMG_0061I recently learned a HUGE lesson about content creation. I made a mistake that cost me a lot of time and put me way behind on a big project. Now I want to help you avoid this pitfall in the future.

Here’s the deal…

Over the last several weeks I’ve been filming a documentary for a festival taking place on Dec 11. The film is about a local dance company, Polaris.

The first time I saw them perform, it connected with me in a way that no other dance has. It was surprisingly accessible — raw and emotional.

Then I found out the dancers, despite their level of skill, didn’t get paid. I knew I had to film their story to find out what could inspire such commitment to art and each other.


So naturally I filmed interviews with them. The lighting was great, the video turned out really nice and I got some wonderful sound bites.

It seemed I had everything I needed to tell a beautiful

But then I realized a glaring problem.
After watching the rough cut, it was clear to me that the film was TELLING the audience what I wanted them to learn rather than SHOWING.

There was one piece of my footage that stuck out in people’s minds during test screenings.

Everyone loved and remembered the story one of the dancers told about getting pregnant while being in the company. She was so worried that she would get kicked out.

Instead, the head directors turned out to be her most valuable resource for information about having a baby and becoming pregnant.

This short anecdote made clear one of the main themes statements of my film — these dancers have found a family in the company. They persevere because of the connection they have to each other.

I knew right then that I needed more stories. As hard as it was to have to backtrack, I decided to get the lights, crew, location and dancers together to film interviews for a second time.

I’m so glad I did. This time I asked questions like to get stories.

“Tell me about a time when…”

“Describe to me an experience where…”


I wish I’d remembered this important content creation principle the first time around. Now I have only four days to go from a blank canvas to a final cut of the film.¬† But I’m confident because I have stories to paint my picture with.

Stories are the most powerful tool at your disposal for building influence and teaching principles. Time spent gathering, telling and refining stories will make your content exponentially more powerful.

I highly recommend a book called The Story Factor by Annette Simmons. Her book does an amazing job of teaching how to influence people
through storytelling.

Every time you outline a blog post or episode, try to find a story to illustrate the main point of your content.

Tell me about a time when you used a story to influence someone in the comments below.


  1. says

    I have been enjoying the stories before some of your podcasts.

    I read The Story Factor a few years ago and it really changed how I approached my clients and my friends. So often when direct advice or suggestions won’t be accepted, a relative story can really hit home. And it’s also less bossy and intrusive. People can take it or leave it, but at least they heard a good story.

    Good luck with the documentary editing!

  2. says

    Jason, a good point that a lot of people do forget. There’s so much blah blah out there that it is the real stories that are appealing to listeners/viewers. It’s just like what they tell you in writing classes. I’m giving a podcasting seminar tomorrow and definitely going to emphasize this, so thanks for the reminder.

  3. says

    Excellent point–and the key thing about stories is that they touch our emotions. That is the common element of all successful books, films, and marketing campaigns, too.

  4. says

    I recently asked my email list what they would like to know about social media, since that’s my niche. I learned this from you in Internet Business Mastery.

    One comment was that they wanted to hear stories of businesses like them who have had success with social media marketing. They wanted to be SHOWN how it works. I’m working on a way to provide them with the stories they crave.

  5. says

    I just found you while I was searching for information on pod casting. You really caught my attention with your post because I am not only a podcaster, but also a dancer/choreographer.
    Thank you for taking the time to share so freely.