Story-telling is an age-old tradition in our human history. For generations, our ancestors shared their learnings and passed on cultural beliefs, traditions and practices through story-telling.
In modern times, businesses have also recognised story-telling as a powerful tool in building customer loyalty and brand followings.
From books to films to blog posts to keynote speeches, thousands of stories get told every day. But not all stories are created equal. So what is a good story? What can we do to tell a good story?
Story-telling with a purpose
A good story has a clear message that it wishes to impart. The amateur story tellers often include too many themes or points in one story. As a result, the power of the story is diluted.
Dr Martin Luther King Junior’s famous I Have a Dream speech is a perfect example. The phrase, I Have a Dream, was repeated 8 times by Dr King as he shared a vision of an integrated and unified America with his audience.
With this one phrase, Dr King was able to motivate and inspire millions around the world.
While we may not wish to have too many repetitions in our story, we do need to ask ourselves what is that one central message that we want to convey and how we can build our story around that central message.
Story-telling with clarity
Have you ever watched a movie with a plot that involves the past, present and future? Sometimes the plot jumps back and forth so often that viewers lose track of the storyline. At this point, the audience is no longer clear about what is happening and the story loses its clarity.
Clarity means explaining things simply and logically without creating confusion.
Keeping things simple is the first step to preserve clarity of a story. Too many big words can make a story boring and whether we admit it or not, we all have the tendency to waffle. So avoiding using too many big words and being succinct are two key points to remember when preparing for stories.
Deciding on a structure when telling a story also helps with the clarity. Do you want to structure your story using a hero’s journey technique or do you prefer disguising your surprise ending with a “false start”?
If you have not heard of techniques such as hero’s journey or false start, it is time to familiarise yourself with some classic storytelling techniques and learn how to make your story more powerful.
Story-telling with an angle
A good story teller knows how to best angle a story to create a connection with his/her audience.
An Atlanta animal shelter in Georgia, USA has struck gold with their story. Their low-budget cat commercial has gone viral on social media.
Instead of appealing for people to adopt a cat, Furkids Animal Rescue and Shelters chose to tell their video story using a “salesman” angle and lots of humours. With a deliberate cheesy but lovable salesman highlighting the benefits of adopting a cat, the unusual video received more than 4 million views within days of its release.
While this short video lacked the glamour of the usual commercial production, it resonated strongly with its audiences worldwide and achieved an astounding result. If you have not seen this quirky video, visit here.
So ask yourself what kind of story are you telling? What angle will you be using to make the story “personal” and resonate with others?
Take home message
Story-telling is an effective tool to build your brand. To tell your story well, remember these 3 steps:
- craft a story with a purpose,
- tell it with clarity, and
- angle it right so your story connects with your audience.