Small Story: Pole Vaulting with Allison Stokke

Published on February 13, 2015

Here's a Small Story video that will blow your mind:

GoPro shares a lot of great videos on their YouTube channel.

That said, many of them are really just video montages set to music. This one is different.

I recommend you watch the video above, read through these notes, and then watch the video again. It's a great lesson in effective Small Storytelling.

(By the way, I want to emphasize that I'm not affiliated with this video. I watched it yesterday when GoPro emailed it as their "Video of the Week". I'm sharing it here because it's awesome.)

Let's go through some of the elements of a good Small Story...

A variety of shots

They got wildly creative with mounting their GoPro cameras in several different places:
  • On her head.
  • On the pole
  • On the mat
  • In the bucket
  • High angles
  • Low angles

And how about that slow motion shot? Amazing.

Strong opening and closing shots

The first and last shots of a video story are important. They give you a first impression and a lasting impression.

In this case, the first shot could be shot from a drone. The last shot is clearly mounted to the pole as it falls away. These are very strong spectacle elements.


The narration tells the story and the visuals support the narration. Notice the "tunnel vision" line and then the tunnel-like transition that happens immediately afterwards.

Great music selection

The music is a good choice, and we can clearly hear what the narrator is saying, even when there's music.

It helps tell the story instead of distracting from it.

A complete story in under two minutes

Afterwards, we aren't left thinking "Wait, there's more to the story. This video is incomplete!" No, the story feels complete. It comes to a satisfying end.

Answers the Important Questions

We know who she is. We know what she's doing. She tells us why she's doing it. We can see where she is. We get a sense that the when is recent.

This is a great Small Story. Kudos to the folks who made this video.

This article was last updated on March 28, 2019


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