I learned storytelling by trial and error. As a marketing consultant I have launched I-don’t-know-how-many new products and written and implemented I-don’t-know-how-many marketing plans (see photo: stack o’ just some of the plans).
I learned storytelling along the way:
When I captured the underlying uniqueness of the company and communicated it, things worked. Mailings and ads got response. The phone rang. Sales went up and I was the hero.
And when I wasn’t able to capture that truly unique “thing,” even though the mailings and web pages and everything we did was equally professional, little happened.
I learned — clearly — I had to find and tell their story to succeed for my clients. I could get everything else right, but if I didn’t find the story, all the client was left with was a good looking website or brochure or ad.
And bottom line, if you want results you better include story in your marketing.
You don’t need to take 30 years to learn storytelling like I did. I got decent at it pretty fast and so can you.
Here are two ways you can learn storytelling:
Way One Hire me. Hire me if you feel you aren’t telling your story and you’re more interested in what storytelling can do for your business than learning the intricacies of the technique.
Way Two Start watching, listening to and reading some of the most important content on storytelling out there. Some is free, others you have to buy. For every book or video I’m sharing I’ve read or watched probably twenty. These are a good start. Book links are to the Kindle versions (NOT affiliate links).
Believe Me, a storytelling manifesto for change-makers and innovators, by Michael Margolis. This is a short, one-sitting book and it’s cheap. But it’s a great first storytelling book. His website (www.getstoried.com) also has lots of great content, including a webinar. He knows what he’s talking about. You should follow him.
Ira Glass on Storytelling, a four part series of 5-minute YouTube videos. This link takes you to Part 1, with the other parts splashed all over the page. He explains narrative; movement, pause, reflection, action. Superb stuff. He’s a master. You might also enjoy his radio series on NPR, This American Life.
The Mother Ship of storytelling is the Hero’s Journey. It is the form most stories have taken that survived throughout history. Pick up any religious book. Read the major stories by Native Peoples. Did you watch the first Star Wars?! The Matrix? All tell stories and the best stories follow The Hero’s Journey form, explained well here. The term was first used by Joeseph Campbell (The Power of Myth), but the structure it describes has been with us since we wrote on cave walls and told stories around campfires.
The Hero’s Journey, explained simply:
The hero is an otherwise ordinary person whose life is interrupted with a call to adventure. Something this ordinary person is afraid of and struggles against.
After initially refusing the call to action, our hero finds a mentor either from within or meets someone.
Our hero learns what he or she needs to overcome the fear, and is able to break through several obstacles, transforming into a hero as a result.
And, of course, our hero receives the reward in the end. But that’s not really the end.
He or she comes back to the ordinary world with the elixir, some element of treasure that will transform the world.
One of the best examples of telling your story I’ve seen. Google’s brilliant version of The Hero’s Journey:
Still with me? Okay, buckle up, this is maybe my favorite resource. Remember the historic presentations Steve Jobs gave introducing the iPod, iPad, iPhone, etc.? Nancy Duarte taught him. And fortunately she wrote a book: Resonate, Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. This is not a Kindle, but you should own the book. It’s amazing.
Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. This is a bit of a curve thrown at you because this is a book for authors. She teaches writers how to write a better story. But it is a good book and you’ll learn a lot about narrative.
Lead with a Story, A guide to crafting business narratives that captivate, convince and inspire, by Paul Smith. It’s a good book, worth the read. He talks about storytelling in a business context.
Is it time to talk?
Can you recommend a good book or video or podcast or webinar about storytelling? Leave it in the comments section.