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In the age of twitter and shrinking attention spans, telling your story in a concise format is essential. Luckily your audiences heads are full of common stories we can draw on. We have been told stories our whole lives,

building this cultural cache. If you want to tell

a story in 1 second then the trick is to tap into

a story your audience already knows, and

summon it in your viewers mind.


A Western audience (most of you) would recognize this as a reference to The Boy Who Cried Wolf. We can make a statement about truth, or reliability by providing


 one image, while the audiences mind do the rest. Alternatively, we can make a statement about intelligence or character by drawing a historical figure.

By knowing roughly the culture we are drawing on, we can know when to use memes or when to use Greek mythology.

We can layer more of these symbols and references into a video to create a very concise piece that harnesses depths of cultural meaning.

Sometimes when I introduce this idea people are concerned that the viewer won't get the reference. The beauty of these images is that if the story is out of their cultural context, they won't feel lost. If you've ever watched a children's movie that was written on two levels, you will know what I mean - when children don't catch the adult references, they just move on. This is not unique to children.  Our brains miss meaning all the time; it is our brains' job to fill in the gaps and keep things moving.

Drawing on the treasure trove of our viewers' cultural cache is one of the opportunities I get most excited about with whiteboard animation. We can draw on anything not protected by copyright, and even that in some cases. The next time you need to create a concise message, try using the strength of all the storytelling that came before you to tell your own.

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