The concept of storytelling is nothing new--heck, more than 40,000 years ago the cave men and women were telling stories. But storytelling’s popularity has increased over the past several years in large part because we are now a consumer-driven society. We have so many choices available to us now – we choose how we see news, hear news, on what device, at what time. Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle and access to a smartphone, we are all storytellers and storylisteners…on our own time.
Think about your favorite story as a kid. Maybe it was Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Maybe it was Hercules or the Paddington Bears. Or maybe you were more of a One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish type. Maybe your stories were more homegrown, you know the ones your mom and dad made up to tell you each night.
A good story can last a lifetime. And why? Stories help us connect, we see ourselves in those stories, we can understand and empathize with the leading lady and leading man. We want to rescue the damsel in distress and join forces with the hero to save the world from evil.
There are several key factors that help to make a story worth telling.
Authenticity. What does it mean to when someone says be authentic? For me it means:
Access to something special. One night you are invited to dinner and order off the menu. The next night, you are given access to the chef and served a meal no one else is getting. How does that make you feel? When telling a story, give your listeners something they can’t get anywhere else – what makes you and your organization special and more importantly, what makes your listener feel special.
Secrets. People love to hear a secret…and the truth is, none of us are very good at keeping them! In fact, as soon as someone says “don’t tell a soul,” what’s the first thing you want to do? Tell every soul you meet! But in the case of storytelling, that’s a good thing – don’t be afraid to share the good news and watch how people want to help you share it, too.
Find a way to be unconventional. Bring your story to life for your listener. Perhaps it becomes experiential. Help your listener to be engaged and participate in your story. Even if you are meeting with your accountant, you can still make your story a powerful one (and heck, he might even find a few more deductions)
Aha. You Get A Car. You Get A Car. You Get A Car. No one does Aha moments like Oprah, but for a story to be worth remembering, we need to create an aha moment for our listener. This is the point in the story when you pause and make that connection with the audience. That moment where you know you’ve got ‘em, right where you want ‘em.
All good stories have a powerful ending. When it comes to a good story, the end is really just the beginning. Having a compelling story gives an organization the ability to generate word-of-mouth support, raise awareness and ultimately motivate your listener to action. Stories that add color and character resonate with listeners at a deeper level, turning them into evangelists for your organization.
Your goal is to have a story that activates the imagination – so they can see, hear, touch, smell and taste your story.
A story sets you a part, gives you personality and makes you…you.