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31st May 2019 Jacqueline Haxton

Getting out of your comfort zone #DigiLab

Digital Lab Fellow Danny Evans of the Royal Shakespeare Company explains in her second #DigiLab blog how drawing a video storyboard pushed her out of her comfort zone.  

Working on this project has made me realise how much our jobs push us out of our comfort zones. A colleague excelled at maths and science in school but has ended up a very successful Marketing Manager.

I always loved words, so I pursued a career where I’d get to write them. The two subjects I was least comfortable with at school were maths and art. Fast forward lots of years and here I am, Content Manager at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). Words are still a big part of my job, but I spend hours at a time analysing web stats, arranging spreadsheets, and doing algebra. And now, for this project, I have to storyboard my video. I have to DRAW some pictures.

The project
Like many organisations we’ve long since used our YouTube channel as a repository for all our videos, not a curated channel. We have so many skills at the RSC — carpenters, hairdressers, costume makers to name just three — I wanted to find out if we had something valuable to offer a YouTube audience.

My research question: is there an appetite for bespoke content, designed solely to appeal to our YouTube audience?

First up, I interrogated our YouTube stats, looking at what worked and what didn’t work, what content our audience wanted more of, and who this audience are. Here are a couple of key insights:

  • Most of our YouTube audience are aged 18-44 — that covers several key audience segments for us
  • We’re based in a small Warwickshire town but most of our audience aren’t — 32% watch in the UK; a matching 32% watch from the US; the other 36% come to our videos from all over the world. So YouTube could be the key to bringing our content and our brand to the US and lots of other places in the world.

Storyboard
I decided to use a tried and tested YouTube format for my experiment — the ‘how to’ video. I got our Wigs and Make up team on board and we decided that the video would be on wig fitting and we set a filming date. All I had to do was storyboard the video, and we’d be ready to go. That’s all.

This filled me with dread. It had to be stickmen, because that’s all I’m capable of, but it’s still terrifying. Even my stickmen are somehow more rubbish than everyone else’s. You will be able to see, immediately, what an artistic disaster I am. If you can draw you probably won’t understand — but there’s probably something comparable that you would avoid at all costs. First thoughts:

  1. Is there a way around this? Do we really need it? Can I just not do it? Can I do words instead? No, they need a storyboard, I should give them a storyboard — with pictures.
  2. Is there a tool on the internet that will do this for me? Yes there is, but by the time I‘ve figured it out and downloaded it I probably could have just done the storyboard on paper — I mean all it needs to be is a few squares explaining what I want to happen, with stick people.
  3. How hard can it be? Just get on with it!

So I finally put pencil to paper. I wrote a list of the steps I needed to show, divided a piece of paper into six squares, with a space for a caption under each one, and set about drawing a person, some hands, a chair, a mirror and a stand for a wig. It’s a very simple storyboard. It took about four drafts and a bit of rubbing out before I was satisfied that it was neat enough to do the job. But it does the job. And that is all it’s supposed to do.

I did it! And you know what? It wasn’t actually that hard. Like a lot of things — it looks big and scary, but if you start small, you can always learn.

By getting out of my comfort zone and drawing out the storyboard for my video, I’ve learnt a new skill.

I’ve taken lots of insights away from this project, which I hope will have a big impact on our YouTube strategy over the next year. But if there’s one piece of advice I’d give, it’s this: get out of your comfort zone, do the things you thought you couldn’t do. There will be no stopping you!

Read Danny’s first Digital Lab blog How to win at YouTube.

Image courtesy of Danny Evans and Royal Shakespeare Company — Van Gogh eat your heart out! The dreaded storyboard becomes reality.

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