Elements of a Powerful Story
Adapted from the original article published on the Wired Flare Blog.
Whether you're a business looking to connect with your audience in a deeper way or a classroom teacher looking for ways to help your students understand content in a meaningful way, storytelling is a powerful and useful tool.
Business storytelling sets you apart from your competitors because no one else has your story.
In the classroom, storytelling allows students to create emotional connections with content and to understand subject matter in a deeper way.
There are a number of common elements that will help you craft a powerful story. These are things for you to consider:
Short in Length
You want to be able to tell your business story in a way that captures attention...and then holds it without losing it. The reality is that people have short attention spans. Whether they are listening to you speak or watching your video, you may lose them if you go on for too long. Your story can vary depending on where you're telling it. For business, if you integrate your story into your "elevator pitch," you'll obviously want to hit the highlights in 30 seconds or so. If you're creating a story video for business or for the classroom, aim for less than a minute and a half to 3 minutes. Of course you can tell your story in a lengthier way in other places, but you want to be able to capture the basics in as little time as necessary.
Driven by Character
Storytelling centers around the main characters. In the classroom, the characters are typically fairly easy to identify. However, characters are important even in business. This isn't necessarily just one person. It could be the founder. It could also be the entire team. Characters also include the people you serve - who they are and what they need from you. Consider how all these people have shaped your company story.
Driven by Conflict
Consider this...every great story has conflict. That is what makes it powerful. In classroom storytelling, the conflict encapsulates the challenges that the primary characters face and overcome. The conflict in your business story may be the challenges your customers are experiencing that you help them overcome. It may be a business challenge that you faced as an organization that shaped you into being what you are today. As you think about these hardships, you'll be able to find one or two that have an important role in your story.
Narrative in Nature
Your story should actually be...a story! Stating what your characters do or what your company does is not a story. Combining the elements of character and conflict will create a narrative that paints your business as a living, breathing entity that inspires others.
If you tell your story too quickly, its message will be lost on your listeners. If you tell your story too slowly, you'll lose your listeners before you end. Make sure your story is paced well, and practice this so it feels right.
In telling your story - show it! Use words that will enable the listener to visualize what you're saying, words that will make the listener part of the experience and part of you. This creates an emotional connection with the listener.
A great story evokes an emotional response. Listeners should feel something as you share your story. This will stem from the ways in which you combine your story elements to show the meaning of the story. In business, this means showing who you are at the core of your organization and what you have experienced to get where you are and to help those who you serve. If you have no emotion telling your story - the listener won't feel emotion either.
Personalized with Audio and Visuals
When telling your story with a tool like video, it is powerful to supplement your story with music and visuals. These can help tell your story. They help set the stage. They introduce the characters. They can underscore the conflict. They help engage and evoke emotion. Don't neglect these powerful tools.
Storytelling truly can take your content and your business to the next level. Take the time to start telling yours.