Facts, dates, ideas, or concepts can be forgotten, but good stories often stick in our mind so that we remember them for life.
They have the power to inspire, motivate, focus and encourage to act. This is what culture researchers, neuroscience, communication and marketing professionals are talking about today. Stories are a way of communicating that was used from the dawn of humanity, and our hunger for them has not diminished today. However, creating, telling, or writing an influential story is actually not that simple. The good news is that storytelling is a skill, therefore, it can be developed with some effort.
Human attention is a scarce resource, so if the essence of the story is approached very slowly, it often goes off on a tangent, concentrates into details or is too focused on prehistory, engagement of the audience might end up in failure before it reaches its culmination. Usually, short stories that are easy to understand, that have a clear idea and message, are the most effective ones. However, this does not mean that the story must be dry, with no picturesque details or suggestive rhetoric – it does not contradict with the clarity and specificity of the story.
Frequently, true stories from personal experience are the ones that grab the attention of listeners or readers. People always are interested in real events and true life dramas they can associate with and imagine themselves in a particular situation. As a result, digging through your memories and finding the right story for the context, that is from your personal experience, can often achieve the desired effect. In addition, it is much easier to tell a true story – after all, it really happened!
Of course, not every personal story can inspire or amaze. A story needs some conflict and inner tension. Usually, it is best done with a narrative structure based on the motive of overcoming the obstacle or problem and the lessons learned. The latter aspect is particularly important in order to convey a message with the story. In addition, it is very important that the “moral” of the story naturally and logically emerges from the narrative content.
If the story is being told orally, it is always useful to use body language to strengthen the impression. This makes it easier for people to get involved in the story and have a better image of what was being told – and this is the most important thing if we want the story to work. This is why, when saying “the goal was achieved by this much”, it is worth to do a hand gesture to show by how much.
Whatever the content of the story is or the twists and surprises its storyline has, in the end, many people hope to receive something positive and inspiring. For example, experts found this to be a common feature between numerous most influential TED Talks speeches – a somewhat positive message that is revealed even in stories that are not so fun. This positive aspect is often referred to as the spark of the story, which, in case of success, inspires and encourages the audience. This is the reason why a story is usually told.
Storytelling is undoubtedly a powerful communication tool that can help to enthral people’s minds and hearts and inspire them to do great work. The stories can be very diverse and, of course, should not be of the same kind. Although, if you apply the above principles it can become easier to create a good story. Therefore, when coming up with a story, it is worthwhile to answer a few questions:
If these questions are answered in the affirmative, it is likely that the story will be successful and will trigger the desired reaction of listeners or readers.