Storytelling is an important part of engaging with any audience. School teachers, comedians, and even doctors rely on great stories to convey meaning and make a connection. The reason we lean on stories to make connections is that they touch people on an emotional level, and that level is where the most powerful connections and buying decisions are made.
The reason we lean on stories to make connections is that they touch people on an emotional level...
In business, stories help shape your company culture, they speak for your brand, and help land new customers—or drive them away. Stories play an ongoing role as companies change and grow, and in the online world, the stories you tell live forever. It’s a scary prospect and that’s why it matters so much to get them right. But how do you “get it right” and tell a good story that will out live the moment and stand the test of time?
The best approach to storytelling is based on a simple pattern learned early in life: each story must have a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning sets the stage, the middle details the conflict, and the end provides the resolution. This pattern applies to novels, children’s stories, business pitches, and copy on websites. A story can be fiction or nonfiction, but the most effective stories all share one common theme: they make people feel.
Writing copy or giving a speech to evoke emotion is not easy. It’s a struggle for most people to figure out which story will connect the best, how much to share, and how to conclude the story in a way that creates an opportunity. I’ve found the easiest way for me to write stories that connect and feel genuine are to start with my own personal experiences. The one thing we all have in common is that we are human. That one thing alone means we all go through most of the same things: fear, excitement, sadness, love, fatigue—you get the point. Because of that, I can share a moment where I’ve experienced any one of the range of emotions people feel and use that story to connect.
Below are the steps I follow when writing to connect:
- Define my audience. Is this for kids, business execs?
- Determine my goal: what do I want people to do when they are done reading?
- Identify the emotion that would cause my target audience to want to take the action in step 2.
- Find the story in my life that connects to my topic.
- Research my topic, find similar stories online for quotes or inspiration.
- Create an outline of the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
- List words that resonate with my cause or audience.
- Write my story and use the words from step 7.
- Record myself reading the story aloud.
- Listen to the story, send it to others to get feedback.
- Revise, re-read aloud.
- Pick out compelling photos to accompany the story.
- Write the call to action for end of the story.
- Publish a draft of the story.
- Run it through a readability analyzer (aim for 8th grade).
- Watch the analytics to see if it’s converting – if not, I edit and do an A/B test.
I know that list reads like an easy to do list. In fact, it’s not easy to follow those steps. Most people get stuck at some point along the way and procrastinate or end up turning out a story that doesn’t achieve their goals. I don’t always perform every step, but when I get stuck, I go back to this list and start from the top. It has never failed to help me.
Remember, just like anything in life, it takes practice to become good. Keep writing, even when you’re frustrated. Keep researching, reading, and following people whom you admire as great storytellers. Watch and study comedians. You will get better!
I hope this article helps you. I’d love to hear from you, if you have advice to help improve this article, comment below or tweet your opinion to @karenlpassmore.