The Art of Storytelling

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Posted 01.15.13 by 115 total shares

It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do, the best storytellers are the most successful (tweetable). I’ve been in awe my entire life and followed brands and people who make it look so effortless. What’s really fascinating to me is how a story comes together. I think its what first drew me into advertising. The great ones know how to deliver something that speaks directly to you and make you feel like you are a part of it. And to take it one step further, it’s not just how the story is told, but what happens to it in order to become a virus that spreads, taking on its own form, becoming greater than the creator could have imagined.

typewritterA great story can make you think differently about something that changes your belief because you hadn’t thought of the alternative. Or perhaps with the most humorous smart stories, when delivered well, change your perception and endear you to a person or brand differently than before. It’s a true art and it will never be lost, just take on new forms. Don’t just tell your story, deliver it.

Here’s how to think through your own story creation:

1) Context First - Bottom line, If the story doesn’t fit the audience, start over (or tell a different story). If you want to jump to the last point I will forgive you for a moment. I find it fun to test stories in places where you wouldn’t expect it. But build your story for true audience first, not the other way around.

2) Narrative - remember that narrative is what gives context around your story, without it, it is left up to interpretation. Finding a middle ground for how much is enough can be the most challenging part. Finding your sweet spot with a finesse of the language or the imagery that sends the right message is what brings out the story you wish to share.

3) Beginning, Middle, and End – have you ever heard someone tell a joke and never get to the point? Or better yet, jump to the punchline too fast? Any great story can stand the test of time when people can easily grasp and remember these 3 basic points along the way. Don’t laugh when you hear or see it retold differently in between, that’s just your story growing and evolving.

4) Become One - Before starting any storytelling, visualize it all playing out. The best story tellers embody the story and work in harmony; they start with the end and work backwards from there. J.K. Rowling illustrated this best when she wrote the last few pages of the Harry Potter series and sealed them away safely before she started her first book.

5) One Key Takeaway – what’s the main point or goal? Remember context for your audience comes first. Simplify that further and make sure you pronounce it at the end.

6) Test & Release - you won’t know until you try. In this era you can always test the message. Just to check I was on the right path I tested the message of this blog on twitter. Here’s what I received back:

 

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KEY TAKEAWAY:  Build your story with the right context in mind, embody your work, and watch as it evolves into something that can be truly ‘shared’.

 

If you have thoughts to share about this post, I’d love to hear it! Please jot a note down below. Also, be the first to receive each blog post by signing up at the top of this page. Cheers! 

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  • http://twitter.com/KareAnderson Kare Anderson

    Actionable tips Bryan and let me add this: Start with the end in mind… who do you want to pull in and then how will they feel about your story? Most importantly, will the see a role they want to play in re-shaping it to make it their own, then eagerly share it with others and also act on the call to action?

    • bryankramerblog

      Thanks my friend. I’m loving the shared storytelling experience concept. I’d be interested to see where you have seen it play out. Cheers, Bryan