4 Basic Tips For Successful Storytelling
If you are looking to maximize your personal and professional impact, storytelling is your answer. Storytelling is one of the most effective forms of communication there is because human beings are scientifically hardwired to connect to story. Facts and dates fade from memory but a good story sticks.
It's science. Studies show that when a person listens to or shares a story, the brain produces a chemical called Oxytocin - the bonding hormone. Oxytocin is the same chemical that floods a women after the birth of her baby. It's pretty powerful stuff. Imagine what stronger bonds could do for you in your relationships and in your career. If you want to increase your ability to engage, persuade, and create change - keep reading.
So how do you tell a good story? I am going to share tour of my favorite insider tips that helped me achieve 2019 Storyteller of the Year last month.
1. Know Your Audience
This is one of the most basic elements of marketing, and thus, storytelling. If you don't know exactly who you are trying to reach, how are you supposed to know how to engage them? Everyone has different interests, paint points, and experiences that shape how they enter into receiving a story. Learn about those traits, understand those traits, and then weave them into your story as much as possible. Your story needs to serve the audience by answering a question or scratching an itch.
2. Find The Common Denominator
Don't freak out and click away - I'm not talking about math. I'm talking about finding the common ground or the connections between the story, or the person the story is about, and the listener. If you can't create a connection between the main character and the audience, your story will fall flat. You've already established who your audience is, now it's time to figure out what you have in common. These "common denominators" can be as simple as connecting over a love of chocolate or a hated of country music. Maybe your audience and your character are both single-mothers. Maybe they share a deep desire to combat childhood hunger or end puppy mills once and for all. Make sure these factors are relevant to the main message you are trying to communicate with your story, but when possible, include stories that draw basic parallels. If you can create human connection, you are well on your way.
3. Be Authentic!
Today's world is already full of filters, edits, and seemingly-perfect lives. Audiences want to hear truth they can relate to. While this requires vulnerability at times, it is important to share the trials and tribulations of the main character in the story. Again, this goes back to basic human connection. Audiences subconsciously connect to stories when they hear them and cast themselves in the role of the main character. As famous mythologist Joseph Campbell explains, when an audience listens to stories of ordinary people called to great things it helps confirm the belief that we can also become heroes in our own lives. Showing struggle and overcoming is one of the most basic story plots there is, but it works. What have you overcome in your life? How can you use those stories to inspire and impact others? Hardships and triumph produce an emotion response and audiences act on emotion. Which leads me to my fourth tip...
4. Choose Stories That Provoke Emotion
As much as we want to believe we are rational, calculating beings when it comes to our decision making, this simply isn't the case. The more you can choose stories that make the audiences feel something - joy, disappointment, disgust, empathy, anger, or relief - the more engaged they will be and the more likely they will be to act afterwards. Think about stories that have provoked deep emotion in you. How did these stories influence the way you see things or your beliefs? How did they cause you to change your behavior? Think of some of the most emotion-inducing experiences you've had in your own life. How can you convert those experiences into a story? Sharing experiences creates connection. Connection creates action. Action creates change.
Share your story. Change the world.