Apologies to Hamilton. Let’s get personal, shall we? I am not a very good story teller. Oh, I can relate a sequence of events in the order they happened. I can make sure the people I am sharing with know the setting and the players. I can craft a beginning, a middle and end. I share detail, add colorful but ultimately irrelevant detail, but lack the skill set and finesse to truly enrapture the listener.
Most people think I am a funny guy. I think so too, but my humor comes from a place of observation and commentary, not from joke telling. I am a terrible joke teller. What is a joke? A story with a punchline. I don’t have the skill set to tell stories that connect emotionally with an audience. That’s what made our lecture last week so interesting to me.
I’ve recently read several articles on the art of storytelling, and they each speak to what makes an effective story. According to Bernajean Porter, in the Art of Digital Storytelling, there are two key elements to good storytelling: Living in the Story, and Unfolding/Finding Lessons Learned. She speaks of shifting the lens to use a story to enable the audience to feel what the author feels or experiences.
This directly impacts digital branding, because, as we share the story of our product or service, it is imperative that our target consumers identify with it or identify a need within themselves that relates to our offering.
With Unfolding Lessons Learned, we are instructed to create a hook to hold the audience’s attention. The lesson should be memorable, but it does not have to be obvious.
Another article I read was in HBR. Storytelling That Moves People by Bronwyn Fryer, she interviews Robert Mckee, noted screenwriter. Ideas from this expert in long-form storytelling can certainly be applied in our short form digital media. Hallmark and Coke are pioneers in this, and Apple, GE and Google have taken up the mantle.
McKee says that people are not motivated by reason alone, they need to have an idea united with an emotion. He also says that good stories contain conflict, mostly between expectation and reality. He calls beginning-to-end stories boring. McKee advises adding elements of suspense, and perhaps an antagonist (Head to head taste tests, anyone?)
McKee believes only positive stories lack authenticity. He counsels people to embrace truth and skepticism. This creates believability.
So I ask you, my classmates: Are you a good storyteller?