Module: Storytelling 101
Time: 14 minutes
In a nutshell:
A good narrative is a story, or part of a larger story, that conveys a sentiment or feeling in an effective way to the audience. It’s noteworthy, memorable and engaging. That doesn’t mean, however, that it needs to be overly complicated or grand. When you’re able to identify a good narrative, you can make sure that your audience becomes emotionally connected to the piece of content you’re sharing with them.
An effective narrative
It was pouring rain on my walk to the office. The proposal my manager was expecting later in the afternoon was picking away at my attention. What on earth was I going to say that hadn’t already been said a hundred times before?
An ineffective narrative:
I walked to the office this morning, and it was raining. Luckily, I’d remembered to bring my umbrella, and so I stayed dry. When I got to the office, I sat down at my desk, and got to work on a big proposal for my manager that he was expecting in an afternoon meeting.
Remember that a good narrative can be the recounting of an entire business history, or a 2-minute exchange at the office. The defining characteristic of a good narrative is that it takes the audience along on a journey they’ll feel part of, and so remember. The best way of bringing the audience along is by appealing to their emotions; by painting a picture, rather than explaining it out point-blank. Show them, don’t tell them. In 14 minutes, you’ll be able to make your stories more evocative and so meaningful to your audience.
Workshop goal: You are able to identify a good narrative and use it as part of your business storytelling efforts.
- Pick a piece of content or a learning you’d like to share with your audience. Now, write a brief story to go with it (real or fictional). 4 mins
- Take a look at your narrative. Does it have one or more characters? Are they believable? Is it likely the audience will care about them? If not, try inserting some dialogue or description that brings them to life. 4 mins
- Is there conflict in the narrative? It doesn’t need to be big, and it doesn’t need to be conflict between different people – internal conflict works, too. This can be as substantial as losing your job, or as small as not knowing how to bring up how someone mispronounces your name at the office. 3 mins
- Finally, is there a clear connection between the story and the learning you’d like to impart to your audience? A good narrative works best in context; when the audience can clearly see how it conveys a sentiment or message that’s meaningful to them. 3 mins
Now you’ve learnt how to identify a good narrative, in the specific context of your business content. When you use more stories in your communications and marketing, the storytelling side of your audience’s brain is switched on. That substantially increases the chances of them remembering your message, as well as beginning to feel like they can trust your brand and business.
They’ll feel like you empathise with them – and that you’re speaking to them as humans, not just customers. Which is necessary to build long-term customer relationships worth cultivating.