How To Tell Your Story
Storytelling is an ancient practice spanning every era and culture of human history. Stories are born from our capacity to communicate, maybe as an evolutionary advantage, because they conjure memorable images in the mind. They can teach us a lesson, or give us valuable information and they have the power to both excite our emotions and simplify ideas that are complex.
Why is storytelling important for businesses and organizations?
Because it creates a compelling way for customers and stakeholders to connect with, and relate to a brand.
How to hit all the notes
Successful stories follow a predetermined template, with the same fundamental components and structure.
The components of a story
- Setting: Where and when your story takes place.
- Character: At least one character that the reader or viewer will follow throughout the story. This is the character your audience will try and relate to.
- Conflict and resolution: The struggle, or problem that needs to be solved, and the solution.
- Plot: The story’s events.
- Theme: The take-away thought or overall idea communicated by the story.
- Tone: How the story sounds.
In each of these components there is an opportunity to communicate something memorable about your brand.
Once upon a time… How to tell your story
- Understand your audience. How can you craft a story that is relatable for your target audience? For example, let’s think about a local, family-owned sports equipment store that wants to create a video to reach families in their community. The story could be told through the owner’s perspective and she could discuss the significance of the local sports shop in her life when she was a kid. This point of view could serve as a reminder for parents (the target audience) of the positive and memorable experience they had as kids, going with their parents to get new sports equipment at the start of a new school year or season.
- Decide on your theme. What is the one feeling, thought or concept you want your audience to remember? Pick one primary theme and make sure it’s threaded and recurring throughout the story to hit it home. In our example, the theme could be how the personalized, local sports shop experience is superior to the impersonal big box store experience. The theme could be represented through customer testimonials about personalized service, or showing how the local shop is a hub for like-minded people in the community to connect and build relationships.
- How does it end? What do you want people to do with your story? What action do you want them to take? In our sports shop example, the video could follow a family’s experience from start to finish. A kid is starting soccer in the Spring and needs new cleats. She meets a fellow team member at the shop who is there with her parents for the same reason. Fast forward to the first match, with kids feeling confident with their new gear, and parents cheering together on the sidelines. Perhaps the owner’s personal story ends with a casual invitation to come by the shop, as if he was a friend inviting you over to watch a game. These two storylines communicate the positive impact the local sports shop has on individuals, families and on the community as a whole.
How to share your story
Once you have a general idea of the story you want to tell, then it’s time to think about the best medium to use.
- Written: Feature a simple written story on your website, or interview-style blog post, with photos for visual interest.
- Oral: Tell your story during presentations using a series of PowerPoint slides, or think about recording a podcast that you can feature on your website and social media.
- Video: Consider using animation, or video, integrating existing footage, or photos with a Ken Burns effect to give it an authentic documentary-style feel.
Learn more about storytelling with these resources:
- “6 Rules of Great Storytelling (As Told by Pixar)”
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