Since the beginning of time stories have been told to convey messages, morals, arguments and jokes. Traditions, skills and folk tales have been shared within families, communities and tradesmen for millennia.
From sacred Sanskrit scripts to mysterious Egyptian traditions all have been handed down from generation to generation, all through some form of story telling.
Today, in this digital, time-hungry age we are more concerned with our story telling abilities than ever. We want to bring a sense of realism to even the most untenable story. We want it to be fun, captivating and worthy of being called a favourite.
As a dad, the 30 minutes I spend reading to my children every evening is extremely valuable. It really is my special time with them and I like to mix it up with fiction, non-ficiton, science and technology books. Maybe a newspaper in the mix if I’ve seen an appropriate article. I’ve even read a charity flier which came through the post. It’s all about a captivating story.
My aim is to give the sleepy-heads a varied insight into all we know. I pick and choose stories based on learning, relevance and content. Something that will relax them and allow me to be creative with the all important delivery. They’re receptive most evenings. Occasionally, its lights out 10 minutes ahead of time!
My wife and I selectively choose stories based on morals and meaning, to teach and educate the children on snippets of curated goodness.
Social media and content driven marketing is having the biggest impact on stories of today. The story teller wants us to be immersed in their narrative, to relate and be stimulated, to feel the meaning and visualise ourselves in the story; ultimately to go out and buy their wares — all in 120 seconds or 140 characters. Digital story telling is big business and a well delivered story will have a significant impact on revenues.
Left brain, right brain
Our brains are wired to love stories. Stories make us human. Stories build relationships. Stories are the bases of our interactions. From a child listening to a parent to a CEO absorbing a Sales pitch.
The left-side brain is all about rationale, logic, numbers and statistics.
The right-side brain gives us our creative and artistic side but also holds the power of decision-making.
Ever wondered about bars of chocolate at the checkouts in a supermarket? Aimed at children? The obvious tantrum-trigger and sole way to consolidate a balling child?
What about well adjusted grown ups?
The left-side brain tells us “don’t buy – think about the calories, the sugar content, the already paid for nutritionally balanced meal at home”.
The impulsive nature of the right-side brain overrules this rationality and gives us our compulsion to make the purchase -even at the last minute; usually whilst the checkout attendant is still packing the bags.
Businesses today are spearheading the art of story-telling to capture the hearts and minds of customers and achieving stellar revenues. In turn, all functions of a business need to be able to convey a story.
How do businesses break a story down to a logical easily digestible and memorable?
The list below is based upon a number of popular story-telling methods, which are used extensively throughout online media:
1. Intimately know your audience.
Be it a 15 second anecdote you are sharing in the lift, or a a full blown presentation. Learn about the people. Know what interests them. Predict what they will get from the story and visualise how you want them to react. Determine what the CEO wants to hear. How the VP of products will engage with you. How the Sales Director will warm to your ditty.
2. Subtly mention your business.
It’s all about subtlety. This is not the sales pitch. Briefly mention the name of the company up-front, so it sticks; apropos establishing the precursor to the story.
3. Distinctly introduce the Champion.
The Champion is a real, named person in the story that will resonate with the listener. Its’s not a company, nor a product. It’s not the listener and is usually not you (unless you are a pro-story teller). The listener will relate to the Champion throughout the remainder of the story and when recalling the story in a few weeks time, she will find it easier to remember.
4. Enhance the story with a Problem.
Good stories play with your emotions. They reach into the listeners inner sanctum and resonate on levels that simple conversation cannot. Introduce some form of conflict to your story, some battle, the idea of a struggle will resonant with the listener. Bring in some tension. They will feel the story. Their right side brain will sponge this up nicely.
5. Exclusively name the Product.
Again, this is not a sales pitch. Its about naming the product and brining it into the story as a character to resolve the Problem of the Champion. It can be a service and ultimately will be the line item on the invoice you send your customer. Be bold and mention it clearly.
6. Describe the Transformation.
This is the end of the story. The Problem has been resolved and the conflict addressed. The Champion has bought about some Transformation and is victorious. Again, add in some emotionally charged language to resonate with the listener.
7. And the moral is…
Every story has a moral. The impact of the story is judged on how well the listener understood the moral, without being explicitly told. Think about the impression the listener will be left with. What lesson is being learned?
Time for a story — example
Watch this video and have a think about the 7 steps I listed above.