So Why Story?  

Because we’re social creatures by nature, we’re naturally drawn to stories we can relate to either the place, person the situation or feeling.  People are moved by heartfelt emotion. In other words, something to inspire a genuine human connection. Stories use something to impart wisdom that doesn’t take anything more than a listening ear and an open imagination:

Metaphor.

These can be imaginary or inanimate or archetypal or real.  Many times these metaphors come from cultural reference that will be familiar to your audience.  That’s why identifying your audience’s interest, knowledge and cultural awareness is so crucial to your message.

Let’s be clear about what a story is.  Here are some elements to consider when evaluating material to use for a story that you TELL not SELL

Storytelling is not:

  • A tagline/slogan/mission statement
  • A list of bullet points written into a paragraph
  • A history lesson
  • Vague, high level principles or theory

Storytelling has

  • Characters we care about with something at stake
  • Something happens, a decision is made, an event occurs
  • Set the scene, describe the people and place in sensory detail
  • Emotions present in characters; mood and tone of the situation
  • Specific details to identify and differentiate
  • Events to move the action forward

Here are 5 approaches to consider when deciding on how and what story to tell  

1.Make it Personal: Stuff that actually happened to you. Introduce Heroes or Villains but give me a Character I can root for!

My Journey as a Special Needs Parent.  My son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder as a rising 4-year-old.  If shifted me into a world of forms, assessments, funding, health and educational specialist and pain staking training basic social skills to someone who was just as frustrated and confused as me! I learned to listen and look at the world in a whole new way.  My Story: Normal is Boring!

 2.  Bear Witness: stories about other people; people that you know or events that you’ve observed.  This is where the ability to Listen really listen pays off.  These stories will be the ones that resonated with you and your experience.  Maybe they reaffirmed your belief or enlightened you to a new understanding and now in the oral tradition you wish to pass this on – shared wisdom and Empathy that recognises the emotions of another’s Situation

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan. As a child, she became an advocate for girls’ education, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school.

2. Stories about Success or Failure: Lessons Learned, Wisdom Earned; stories that you’ve heard in your family, business, news/social media feeds.  Emphasis the Elements at play what are the driving forces?  Your Protagonist is only as strong as the Antagonist.  It is the negative forces in life that are the drivers.  The ‘why’ or object of desire is what inspires us to preserver.

The Dawn Wall – Making History On January 14, 2014 as the sun set in Yosemite National Park, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson completed what is arguably the most difficult ascent in the history of rock climbing. The Dawn Wall is the first El Cap free climb to really depart from this tradition of following the “lines of weakness” to the summit.

3. Make it Parallel is there a problem or situation that needs discussing but it needs some time, space and perspective? This is where traditional tales really work their magic.  David and Goliath stories for instance where the underdog triumphs.  Cinderella where the riches to rag to riches girl comes back into her own.  Iron John was a huge cultural revelation when it was used by Robert Bly in the 90’s as a metaphor for male rites of passage.

4. Make it Transformational Bobette Buster is an award winning screen writer who highlights this element as the key to a successful story. She outlines the two transformational changes as the character faces a moment of epiphany and either becomes fully alive or becomes the living dead.  Robert McKee another Hollywood guru refers to this moment as the inciting incident an event in which characteristics fall away and the true character emerges.  So think about CHOICES & CHALLENGES that CHANGE you, others AND the world.  And the world? Yes!  Because your story will only really be relevant if it contributes to the greater good of all. 

Every company has a story on which that brand is built. Many times it’s in the name. But when someone like IBM with their slogan THINK! or Nike with JUST DO IT want to relate to people like a person they have a story that they tell: a business story which is 

PURPOSE DRIVEN & RESULT ORIENTATED for ACTION.Does your business have one?Who’s telling it? It should be YOU!