By Ronnie Walsh, Nine Island Communications
Everyone loves a good story. It connects us in powerful ways. You can be in business, government, health care—in any profession—and part of your job is storytelling. It could be about a company project, quarterly report, event, or controversy; it could be water cooler chat about the Grammy Awards. Stories connect us and compel us to take action or be interested.
Thinking about all the platforms and arenas where you can tell your story may feel overwhelming. Keep in mind that the fundamentals of storytelling haven’t changed over the years. What has changed is the media, and so has the frequency with which we connect with our audiences. It’s important to deliver your story in these different ways. Staying true to the fundamentals of storytelling will help, no matter where you tell your story.
Elements of effective and creative storytelling
Narrative – Your story needs a beginning, middle, and end. When it comes to business, this means identifying the situation through a main character (this could be you), the conflict or opportunity, and the outcome (i.e., how they need to hire you to help). NOTE: avoid a hard-sell approach.
Character – The best stories involve human beings and make an emotional connection with your audience. Focus on bringing out the human side of your story. You can use your audience (demographics, online habits, consumer patterns, etc.) to build a connection between you and those watching you.
Know your audience – The story you tell and how you tell it should be tailored to your target audience and the platform or venue where you are sharing your story. Messaging should be relatable and not heavily scripted. When you’re too scripted, it makes people look and sound like disconnected robots.
Create clear messaging – Your messaging should be built around your narrative and your target audience. Avoid being a collection of sound bites or bullet points. The purpose of your video or presentation should be said in one sentence, two at the most, and revealed early. Less is more, and remember to be authentic. The audience has to care about what you’re saying and they must say “that’s interesting” or “I’d watch that” within a few seconds of seeing/hearing you.
Use visuals and sound wisely – Images and music or other sounds can be used to set the scene or the emotion for the information being shared. Be careful not to overuse these elements.
There is a lot of “noise” and pressure out there for what we “should” do when it comes to storytelling. But the most effective storytellers are those who stick to the basics.
If you’d like to sharpen your storytelling skills or have support developing your story, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to help. Let’s tell a great story together.™ Visit www.nineisland.ca to learn more.
For more than 20 years, Ronnie Walsh has helped people strategically and creatively tell their stories. She began her career as a journalist, then moved into communications and marketing. Ronnie’s experience allows her to view situations from different perspectives, ask the right questions, and deliver the best results. Ronnie is an accredited, award-winning communications expert known for developing corporate strategies in media relations, strategic communications, employee engagement, and reputation management. She’s also a media relations and performance coach. She shares her insight via her blog, as a professional speaker, and as the host of the business television show Extrapreneurs.