We tell stories all the time. It’s an essential skill, but what makes a compelling story? And how can you improve your ability to tell stories that persuade, enlighten, or entertain?
Facts and figures and all the rational things that we think are important actually don’t stick in our minds at all. Stories create “sticky” memories by attaching emotions to things that happen. That means writers who can create and share good stories have a powerful advantage over those who struggle to build good stories
I think there are three crucial aspects of good storytelling. There are obviously many more. You could fill volumes with things that are crucial to a story. But here are three things that I believe would be helpful in planning for a good story.
Every storytelling exercise should begin by asking: Who is my audience and what is the message I want to share with them? Each decision about your story should flow from those questions. Settle on your ultimate message; then you can figure out the best way to illustrate it. The best storytellers look to their own memories and life experiences for ways to illustrate their message. What events in your life make you believe in the story you are trying to share?
A story without a challenge simply isn’t very interesting. Good storytellers understand that a story needs conflict. Check out all of the fairytales and fables from countless years gone by – loaded with conflict. Don’t be afraid to suggest the road ahead will be difficult. We actually like to be told it’s going to be hard, and there’s going to be a mighty struggle. It makes the triumph that much sweeter.
Some of the most successful and memorable stories are relatively simple and straightforward. Don’t let unnecessary details detract from your core message. Work from the principle that “less is more.” One of the biggest mistakes you can make is “putting in too much detail of the wrong kind. Transport your audience with a few interesting, well-placed details, and see how they respond.
Stories are the original viral tool. Once you tell a compelling story, the first thing someone does is think, “Who can I share this story with?”