Aongus Collins Illustrations & Cartoons

Whiteboard videos

One of the most surprising -- and positive -- success stories on YouTube is that of a non-profit, RSA. Its mission is to spread the most creative ideas to the most people globally. It has engaged massive audiences online with a series of videos bringing complex and often very abstract ideas to life:

  • 16.8 million views for a video on the nature of motivation
  • 4 million views for a video on the power of time
  • 3 million views for one on 'The Empathic Civilisation'
  • 1.4 million views for 'Language as a Window into Human Nature'

A far cry from funny videos of cats! So how did they do it? RSA used whiteboard video, a style that lets the viewer see a hand drawing a graphic on what appears to be a board. Sometimes animation is also used economically to highlight or reinforce take away points.

The secret of this success is engagement -- when used appropriately, the whiteboard approach attracts audience attention to an extent that's difficult to achieve with static graphics, particularly in a visually saturated media environment.

This is a field I have been exploring. When I worked as an editorial cartoonist for daily newspapers, it was clear that illustration was suitable for communicating abstract or otherwise disengaging concepts -- from Brexit or automation or economics to various nuances of social change. And of course it can be done just for fun.

On the spur of the moment I uploaded a simple, whimsical whiteboard of President Michael D Higgins to social media, making no effort to promote it. The response was the one of the most gratifying since the heyday of my newspaper career.

Here is an additional video, making an obvious health and safety point. This has incorporated into a PowerPoint document as well as being posted online. For further details, please email me.