Tips For Making A Documentary Engaging

With the popularity of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, the demand for documentaries continues to grow.

In fact, in 2020, documentaries accounted for ‘12.41% of viewing’ in the UK and were thus one of the most popular types of content to watch.

However, as the market becomes more saturated with documentaries, it’s becoming harder and harder to compete in order to engage audiences.

If you’re interested in creating a documentary, you might be wondering what makes a documentary engaging.

A video camera

Tips for making a documentary engaging include:

  1. Informing your audience without overloading them with information
  2. Keeping it relatable
  3. Using stunning visuals
  4. Creating a lasting message

1. Informing Your Audience Without Overloading Them With Information

The key to keeping your audience engaged is to inform and educate them without overloading them with too much information.

All documentaries are informative in some way. However, considering the average human attention span has ‘dropped to eight seconds’, the key to keeping your audience as engaged as possible is to give them bite-sized pieces of information that they can easily absorb.

While you might have a lot to say, overloading your audience with information is going to make it more difficult for them to retain information regardless of how interesting your documentary is.

In the same way that social media videos receive better engagement when they contain concise information, you should be sure to break up any big chunks of information in your documentary with interesting visuals and keep things concise.

In addition to this, by ensuring all the information that you’re relaying is relevant and clear, you’ll have a higher chance of engaging your audience and maintaining their attention.

2. Keeping It Relatable

Another tip for making a documentary engaging is to make it relatable. This comes down to the fact that relatable content encourages engagement, as people are more likely to ‘share and talk about’ your documentary in real life and on social media if they can relate to it.

As people relate to people, if you’ve got a story or a message that your audience can relate to, they’re more likely to engage with your documentary. While the specific details of documentaries are never going to be relatable to every single person, there are ways of making your content relatable to your audience in general.

For instance, let’s say you’re making a documentary on oil tycoons within the oil industry. It’s no secret that the average person won’t be able to relate to oil tycoons. However, they will likely acknowledge or be able to recognise that the damaging effects of climate change impact us all.

Putting the activities and interests of oil tycoons in this context, then, will pique the interest of your audience. As a result, they’ll be able to engage and relate to your documentary, regardless of not being able to relate to some of the richest people in the world.

A man operates a camera

3. Using Stunning Visuals

One of the best ways to make a documentary engaging is to use stunning visuals. The visuals in documentaries can help to relay memorable messages. As documentaries have the power to ‘move audiences’, visuals are often what people think back to when they’ve watched one.

Think about it. Breath-taking visuals are the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions nature documentaries, such as Blue Planet.

Regardless of the content of your documentary, you can create beautiful visuals with the world around you to create a somewhat cinematic experience for your audience.

If you’re not sure on where to get started, hiring a professional production company is one of the easiest ways to help you create a documentary with beautiful visuals.

This will help to keep your audience engaged and will etch your documentary into their mind for the foreseeable future.

4. Creating A Lasting Message

Last, but not least, when creating an engaging documentary, it’s important to create a lasting message that people will remember.

Creating a thought-provoking documentary that will remain in your audience’s mind long after they’ve finished watching is how you get people talking, which in turn will encourage more people to watch it.

You want the documentary to speak for itself. Provided that you’ve informed and educated your audience, and have created something that moves and evokes emotion in them, you have the best chance of creating a lasting message and will receive further engagement from it as a result.

Not only will your audience feel like their time has been well spent watching your documentary, but they will also have learned the message that you wanted to convey as a brand.

This can also help you to spread the message of your documentary, as well as increase awareness by promoting the topic in question, likely fulfilling one of your main priorities for creating the documentary.

A woman is interviewed for a documentary

Now you’ve read this article, we hope that you have a few tips on how to make a documentary engaging.

We’re Buffoon Media: a bilingual media production company based in Port Talbot and London, producing and live streaming content across the globe. Learn more about our podcast production services, as well as the other services we provide on our website.

Written by Jemima Thomas for Buffoon Media.