We’ve discussed the importance of telling your audience a story to engage more of their consciousness. And, we’ve looked at how an effective story will transfer and become the story of the listener which in turn creates “replay” and advocacy. “Great!” You might say, “but how do I do that?”
Essence of Telling a Story
Aristotle (yeah, these concepts are not new) taught that a good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And, our high school English teachers drilled the same thing into us, but those are “construction basics.” First, we need to create a blueprint. Back to Aristotle who also taught that a story needed knowledge, feeling, and credibility. Obviously, you have “knowledge,” or product or services, to offer; that’s why you’re in business!
Pathos (appeal to emotion)
Your business has boatload of information (Logos) that you want to share with your audience, but let’s put that to one side for right now. If you frontload your story with knowledge your audience will quickly lose interest. A better place to start is with the feeling. This is where your audience will first start to assess you. How are you making them feel? Why should they pay attention to you? In order to launch that reception in your listener’s mind and heart, you need to…
Today we refer to that latter one more as authenticity, or “your why.”
Why did you start, or take on, this business in the first place?
What drives you to continue with it?
An outstanding example of starting with why and moving to feeling and knowledge is seen in a current ad for UNTUCKit. It starts with these words:
“The best ideas come from solving common problems…. Problem? I couldn’t find a shirt that looked good untucked. So, this became my passion to design…”
In three 3 sentences the narrator has taken us through the two steps of why and feeling. The rest is knowledge. Which incidentally, has already been overlapping with visuals of 3 different shirt designs in 14 seconds. Highly effective!
What’s Your Story?
Has someone ever asked you, “have I ever told you about the time when…?” Whether you’ve heard the story or not, the look of excitement on the teller’s face, lets you know how eager he or she is to retell it. That should be how you feel about your story; you have to be passionate about it! As Marsh Cassady in Storytelling Step By Step puts it, “you’ll want one you are pretty certain you won’t get tired of.”
“If you can’t persuade yourself, you can’t persuade others.” Annette Simmons, The Story Factor
Cassady goes on to add that “the story has to suit you and your personality.” In other words, if you see your competition successfully telling a story, do not try to reproduce what they are doing. It will come across as ingenuous, or artless.
Some Other Questions
What is the point you’re trying to communicate? This is your theme. Everything in your story should relate back to this. We’ve all had the friend or relative who starts a story only to digress down a tangential path. The spouse of a RightMind team member frequently says, “Honey, just tell me the destination, and I promise I’ll stay for the journey.” Not all audiences are so tolerant. In short, those extra details that we love to share, well, if they don’t add value, delete them.
Who is the intended audience? Are you trying to sell to Millennials? Is your market retired persons? Are you focusing on parents? Use appropriate language and images that will appeal to that group of individuals. Keep in mind, this is not about us as storytellers but about the audience. We already own the narrative. Our goal is to infuse that narrative into others so that they too may own it
In A Nutshell
Start with why you’re doing what you’re doing. Somewhere at the outset, there was a problem, and your business or product has “fixed” that problem. Are you excited about it? You should be. It’s been often said that “people are people.” If you’re excited about this, likely others will be as well.
A cautionary note though…storytelling is not a mathematical formula. You don’t plug ideas into one end of the equation and out pops success on the other end. Influence happens over time. If you were to deliver a fantastic story and then have a mediocre product, your audience will cry “snake oil!” So, align your narrative around your values, your “why.” Make sure all your storytellers have the message well in mind and are aligned. Keep in constant communication because people, both responsive and silent, are listening but only if you’re still telling. And, lastly, maintain your ethos, or credibility, for we all want value.
At RightMind, we work with companies to help them isolate and reaffirm their “why.” With that clearly defined, we can then work to align the entire team and messaging behind that driver to produce a unified narrative. Why not see what we can do to help sharpen and deliver your story today?