You already know the importance of telling your story.
But do you know how to make sure your story will lead to that “ah-ha” moment with your audience? Do you know how to make it rise above so-so storytelling and leave your audience touched, persuaded, or engaged?
At the heart of great storytelling are two things: identifying the right story, and telling it well.
Before the Storytelling
THE HUNT FOR THE GREAT STORY
If you’re on the hunt for that singularly great story for your business, this step is vital.
1. Look for your story through the lens of the classic story types (overcoming, rags to riches, rebirth, quest, journey, comedy, tragedy) that have moved audiences since humans first started telling stories. What is it about these story formats that make them so universally compelling—and which of these applies to your story?
2. Listen with the intent to learn something new. Approach what you do with a curious mind, and ask questions that go deep. This can be hard to do in familiar environments, but stories often require some excavation because they aren’t immediately evident.
3. Observe. Tour your organization with fresh eyes. Look for things you’ve taken for granted, or never seen before. Make a list of the visual signs of the culture and note how people interact and work.
4. Synthesize. Seek the common thread and think about how the parts of the story connect. Look for recurring themes that start to form a singular message.
5. Find the why. What single human need does your product or service solve? How does it make life better? What struggle does it arise from? What impulses do your employees bring to their work?
6. Identify the how. In a few sentences, identify how your company solves a problem for humans.
7. Get examples. In a sentence or two each, have select employees from all levels give examples of their why and how. This will begin to add texture to it.
8. Identify the elements. What pieces of the story will be told best by which elements: images, music, and voice?
9. Find the essence. Once you’ve taken in all of this information, boil it down to a single sentence that describes the problem and the solution. This keeps your story focused.
10. Identify the significant voices. Who can best tell your story?
Telling your Story Well
MOVING FROM “SO-SO” TO “WOW”
Once you have identified a good story, here are some tips that can help you deliver it powerfully.
1. Focus: Stay focused on the one big idea you want to convey. Ask yourself if adding more will make the point stronger or weaker.
2. Clarity: Understand the story’s role in defining your brand and connecting to what your audience cares about.
3. Craftsmanship: Assemble your team of artists who have mastered the technical elements of pacing, music, sound, visuals, voice, on-screen text, and graphics. Because each of these elements requires mastery in a very specific area, a team of experts can bring you the best results.
4. Artistry: Pay meticulous attention to all the details, from image composition to the narrator’s voice. Give your creatives the time, information, and resources required to do great work—and then let them create.
5. Relevance: Make sure your story appeals to a human need that is broadly felt. The deeper the yearning that it responds to, the more powerful the connection you’ll make.
6. Personal: Preserve the deeply human part of the story.
7. Struggle/tension: The problem has to be evident and the solution compelling. Emotion arises from tension. Resist the urge to sanitize your story out of fear that showing real struggle will reflect badly on your company. It is more likely to make the viewer connect with and believe your story.
8. Accessibility: Resist corporate-speak, clichés, and technical talk. Even if it is for a technical audience, simple, clear language works best.
9. Emotion: Pay more attention to evoking a mood than delivering information. Emotions are the precursors to actions, so everything must start here.
10. Voice: If you choose to include voices from your company, make sure they are well prepared and can deliver a message with clarity and from the heart.
Good storytelling is a team sport that involves bringing together the best people in your company and the best creatives and supporting them with resources, good processes, and open communication. When it all comes together, a single well-told story, communicated through video, can have a powerful impact on the course of your business.