Telling stories on social media without using words

Published June 13, 2023, 11:54 a.m. by Mikael Quick

Can videos on social media be free from people talking, and still evoke emotions? Definitely yes, says Mikael Quick, video producer at Spoon. Here are his 5 best tips on how to tell a story without words:

Telling a story without words or dialog (often called talking heads) can be a creative and engaging way to capture people's attention on social media. Using techniques such as editing and cinematography can help convey emotions, establish a mood, and create a sense of pacing and rhythm.

Here are five examples:


This technique involves the juxtaposition of different images to create meaning. Montage can be used to show the passage of time, convey emotion, or create a sense of pacing. For example, a series of quick cuts showing a character's daily routine can convey a sense of monotony, while a series of slow-motion shots can create a sense of tension or suspense.


In the opening sequence of Up (2009), a montage is used to show the life of the main character, Carl Fredricksen, and his wife, Ellie, from childhood to old age.


This refers to the way a shot is composed, including the position of the camera, the distance from the subject, and the angle of the shot. Framing can be used to convey a character's emotional state or relationship to the environment. For example, a close-up of a character's face can convey their emotional state, while a wide shot of a landscape can convey a sense of awe or insignificance.


The famous "dolly zoom" shot in Jaws (1975) uses framing to create a sense of unease and tension.

Camera Movement:

This refers to the movement of the camera during a shot. Camera movement can be used to create a sense of movement or to highlight a particular aspect of the scene. For example, a tracking shot can follow a character's movement through a space, while a tilt shot can be used to emphasize a particular object or detail in the environment.


In the opening scene of Touch of Evil (1958), director Orson Welles uses a famous tracking shot that follows a car as it travels through a border town.

Color Grading:

This involves manipulating the color and tone of an image in post-production. Color grading can be used to create a specific mood or convey a particular emotion. For example, desaturated colors can create a sense of melancholy, while bright, saturated colors can create a sense of energy or excitement.


Blade Runner 2049 (2017) uses a desaturated color palette to create a bleak and melancholic future world.

Time Manipulation:

This involves manipulating time to create a unique and engaging narrative. By using this technique, filmmakers can create a sense of urgency, convey multiple events happening simultaneously, and show the passage of time. For example, stop-motion videos use a series of photographs or frames to create the illusion of movement. They can be used to tell a story, showcase a product or service, or create a fun and engaging video.


Dunkirk (2017) tells three different stories with different timelines, edited together in a non-linear fashion to create urgency and chaos.

To conclude, various editing and cinematography techniques can convey emotions, set the mood, shape perceptions, and establish pacing and rhythm in a film's storytelling, without relying on dialogue. Utilizing these techniques skillfully can create compelling non-verbal narratives that captivate audiences. Good luck with your storytelling!

Mikael Quick, Video producer, Spoon

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