The ability to tell a good story may be the most underappreciated superpower known to humans. On the personal front, it draws others into your circl
The ability to tell a good story may be the most underappreciated superpower known to humans. On the personal front, it draws others into your circles because they are captivated by the way you can paint mental pictures which captivate and entertain. Think about the opposite — who wants to spend time with someone who has nothing interesting to say?
But storytelling is an even more valuable skill when it comes to business, particularly when it comes to marketing a brand. Not sure how to do it well? I highly recommend checking out Stories That Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business, by Kindra Hall. An expert storyteller, speaker and coach, her book is full of practical advice on what makes a good story — because, as she puts it, “a lot of stories suck.” Here are a few ways she says you can make sure yours doesn’t.
A good story needs three essential components
Normal — This is the state of things before something changes. It’s the part where you present identifiable characters and details which create a feeling of familiarity and security which gives your audience a reason to care. It’s the part of the story often left out, but essential if you want people to invest emotionally in what you’re trying to say.
Explosion – This is the moment when the normal is suddenly different. It can be something big or little, good or bad. It could be a change in thinking or a real event. It’s the part where things shift.
New normal – This is what things are like now, after the explosion. It’s where you tell your audience why you’re better or stronger because of what happened. Maybe it’s a client testimonial or a call to action. It’s what makes your story worth paying attention to.
The best stories employ the right specific details
It’s because details light up people’s imaginations. A story about the 1980s may include a boombox, or one aimed at parents could involve the detail of wrestling a stroller into a trunk. Or, consider Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, during which she describes the winter morning her girls drove away with “their little faces pressed up against the window” on their way to their first day of school soon after arriving in Washington. This kind of charged moment is one any parent can identify with. “[B]y choosing a detail many people in her audience could relate to, Michelle Obama put everyone on the same page and in the same emotional place,” Hall writes. “With those few familiar details, she commanded the room and the country.”
You can weave a compelling story no matter how boring or dry your product or service may be
Hall explains that it’s just a matter of determining what makes your brand noble. She gives the examples of transit and title companies, organizations which, respectively merely move things from point A to point B and nitpick the details involved in the mortgage process. But really, if told the right way, a transit company can help its customers keep its promises. And a mortgage company helps people achieve the American Dream. “Noble,” she writes. “In business there is always more than meets the eye, something bigger at play.”
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