You live your story - why not tell your story?Nov 13, 2021
Telling your story better is a surefire way to get people thinking about you, talking about you and remembering you and your message.
Facts and figures are important. They have a place in your presentations and promotional copy. But facts are forgettable.
Story is the glue that gives facts shape and coherence, and cements them into the memory of your readers and listeners. In its simplest form, story is the human dimension that gives a face and a voice to all those facts. And, most importantly, when you tell your story it gives your audience a reason to believe.
Your story is not the number of cups of coffee you sell, or the number of necklaces you make, or the number of mufflers you fit. Your story may be the struggle behind achieving those numbers. It may be about the barista school you set up to train your staff. Or the long, slow walks along the beach to find the stones for the necklaces. Or the insight that enabled you to set up a muffler service better than all the others.
The best stories come from deep within an individual or organization. They’ll take many different forms, but to be successful they must spring from the philosophy that drives you or your company.
Look at some of the iconic brands of the last 25 years: Apple, Starbucks, Virgin. Their stories are not about selling computers or expensive coffee or phone plans and plane tickets. Their stories are about delivering a better experience.
If you are passionate about selling your service or product, it’s a fair assumption that you believe it will enrich people’s lives. So tell your stories with the same passion. Dig deep to find the stories that demonstrate the value of your product or service? When you tell your story you put a face on your facts - and that’s how you can really connect with your audience.
The essential elements of any story
The heart of any story is the hero-quest: Luke Skywalker and the forces of good battling Darth Vader and the forces of evil (and rescuing the princess). A less theatrical example would be campaigners fighting to overturn a miscarriage of justice and get an innocent person out of jail. Or a consumer fighting against a multi-national company to get a faulty appliance replaced. Or a brilliant scientist struggling to change the way we think about the world, in the face of a crippling disease (sound familiar?).
Any compelling story has four essential elements:
- Character (with a strong motivation to achieve change)
- Quest (something others will recognize as worthwhile)
- Obstacles (the problems that threaten to derail the quest)
- Supporters (the people who help turn the tide in favour of the hero)
When you are thinking of the elements that might make a story for you, here are a few things to bear in mind:
Don’t settle for the first character you think of. If you are building your story around a character, that character has to be strong enough to carry the narrative. Your decision may come down to who has the greatest motivation… who has the most drive to achieve change.
Find the highest-value expression of the quest. Raise the stakes. What does your character really want?
You need obstacles. Obstacles provide the conflict that is essential in any story. If you are telling the story of the development of a product, don’t be afraid to talk about the headaches along the way. The story of how you overcame the obstacles to make an even better product is a sign of strength - not weakness.
Without conflict you’ll find it hard to engage your audience. You need to rescue a princess.