I don’t know how to tell a story.
In fact, I bet we’re all pretty shitty at it.
Going around and reading about how to be a better social media marketer, how to blog, what great brands are… I’ve only come across very few stories during that time. Though I’ve even read books on story telling. I bet I could do it decently if I had to, but that’s not really what I’m hoping for. I want to do something to create a shift in the way we all communicate and present that revolves around story telling.
Think about the last few presentations you’ve sat through. How many of them involved someone:
- Telling people about what they do
- Giving examples of how they were successful in social media
- Telling you about their perspective on things
- Giving an informative but unmemorable talk
- Or even turn a talk into a horrible pitch for their business
I couldn’t do much better, but if we turned into a community of story tellers these sorts of talks would disappear. We don’t only need more story tellers to stamp out bad presentations, we need more tellers to be more successful in our professional lives. Like Harvard University psychologist Howard Gardner put it:
“Every great leader is a great storyteller”
What excites me is this idea that everyone can be a leader, from within your business, to within our own community, and we don’t need to have years of experience, an MBA degree, or large followings. Being a great story teller is something that we all can do, and gives us all the opportunity to be leaders.
But there’s a catch…
Story telling doesn’t mean talking about yourself.
It’s probably a lot harder to tell a good story, that isn’t actually a five minute monologue about yourself in disguise. Whenever I start trying to formulate a story though, that is the first thing that comes to mind. So it’s difficult
Let me take an example from a great book on story telling, The Elements of Persuasion, on just what is a story:
“A story is a fact, wrapped in an emotion that compels us to take an action that transforms our world.”
We need to pay attention to all the elements of this description. We need:
- Facts that are useful and people can use
- Emotion that is aligned with our passion
- To be compelled to take action and not settle for the mediocre
- To do something transformative that is disruptive and reinvents how we live
This brings me to my final, big prediction:
If we tell more good stories, the value will take care of itself.
So let’s worry less for a little while about delivering value, being “viral” (chuckle), or even trying to keep up with the latest and greatest news coming out of social media for a while. Let’s look at how we can communicate so that people are able to care.
Who are your favourite story tellers?
How have you seen story telling be used in business?