The Power of Storytelling and How it Can Get More People Reading Your Stuff.

February 2nd, 2010

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I was vacationing in the Bahamas recently when I got an urgent email from a client of mine: “Mike, I’m in a jam! Are you available for an urgent project?”

This client, I’ll call her Vesna (cause that’s a cool name) had been labouring for over 20 hours on a thousand word article. She was stumped and behind the proverbial eight ball. “It’s due in 3 days and my editor told me it sucked! I don’t know what to do to improve it. Help!”

“Vesna”, I said, “Leave it with me.” So she did and I got to work.

It wasn’t bad. But it was missing one critical piece: a story. People are always looking for a personal or biz story they can relate to. Once I captured that hook and passed it on, Vesna read it and instantly got it. So did her editor.

Result: happy client, happy editor and happy me with some unexpected cash for a nice lobster dinner.

Why is storytelling such a powerful tool?

Ever since we lived in caves and recounted stories from the hunt in the glow of the fire, we’ve been captivated with stories. Today that warm glow of the fire may have been replaced by a child’s bedside lamp or our 50” plasmas, but the principle remains – people love stories at the end of the day.

Why?

It’s more than entertainment.

Stories offer us a chance to live and learn through the experiences of others and offer the opportunity to apply those lessons to our own lives. Through our hero’s (and villains) we can learn how to be more courageous, humble, compassionate, successful…

What do we look for in stories?

  1.   To see how others do it and build skills by visualizing ourselves performing a particular skill successfully.
  2.   To see a reflection of who/where we are in our own journey.
  3.   To help makes us feel a part of something greater – something universal.
  4.   To give us comfort.
  5.   To show us how to work out our own problems through watching others work out their own.
  6.   To help us understand, manage and leverage our emotions.
  7.   To show us how to solve problems without having to reinvent the wheel.

Powerful storytelling can be a great promotional tool not only providing simulation or knowledge in how we can act in our own lives but also to motivate and inspire people to take action.

By incorporating some storytelling basics we can reach people on a much deeper, more meaningful level.

Face it – you already use story – testimonials, case studies, success stories – these are all a form of storytelling. How will you leverage your story?

 


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