Some people are simply great with words, but not everyone great with words are master storytellers. There is a difference between a person who can write, and a person who knows how to tell a great story. It’s the same with corporate communication and branding. Right ? Here is a simple exemple. When you’re forced to choose between a boring albeit informative report over a similar informative composition but delivered soul, humour and a more personal and visual touch, then it’s always likely that you’ll choose the latter.
How to tell a great story in itself is not just a skill; it is an art. For others, it is an inherent, innate form of genius. But, like writing, this does not mean that the art of storytelling is not something you can cultivate and even develop with practice and over time.
Five master storytellers and experts share some of their secrets on how to tell a great story.
Here are 5 Master Storytellers’ Secrets for your Corporate Storytelling
1 – Develop the art of active listening
The richest possible source of stories are people’s own tales, delivered in their own voice during conversations, interviews, and sharing moments. Peter Guber calls this as “oral storytelling” and it is through this kind of storytelling that you can find the best stories and at the same time hone the art of storytelling.
To do this, Murray Nossel, a filmmaker and founder of Narativ Inc., underscores the value of being a good listener. An exceptional storyteller is someone who can resist the lure of speaking and instead allow others to do the talking while he/she listens. Good storytellers are those who know how to stay attuned to their audiences’ verbal and non-verbal messages, and show a certain degree of empathy for other people’s experiences. That empathy enables him/her to better understand other people’s feelings, impressions, and thoughts in the stories they share, and in turn, allow him/her to write a story that fully resonates, if not captures, other people’s experiences.
2 – Find inspiration in reality
While it is true that many of the best works ever written in this generation (and even of the generations past) are of fictional worlds and people, many of these stories were or had been based in some aspects of reality at least. Take it from J.R.R. Tolkien of the legendary Lord of the Rings Trilogy, who shared that real people make for the best characters. According to Tolkien, the main protagonist in his novel The Hobbit was inspired by a man in his community who would share stories and gossips. We just need to use some imagination, such as wonder what the town gossip would do if he’s transported to another world, to find the best characters for a story.
3 – Infuse wonder
Andrew Stanton of Pixar shared in his TEDTalk video that the “best stories infuse wonder.” The world may seem like a drab and ordinary place, but a storyteller is someone who can see even the tiniest wonder in the most mundane of things. Moreover, his ability to share that wonder to other people, make others see and appreciate that same wonder is what makes him a good storyteller.
4 – Be clear about your why
Another Pixar artist and storyteller, Emma Coats, gives an important advice. Ask yourself, “Why must you tell this story?” Storytellers would do well to remember that one of the basic principles in how to tell a great story is to believe that all stories are worth sharing. However, to get people to pay attention to the story, you must first be clear about the “why”. Why do you think a particular story – this particular story – is worth sharing? When the answer is clear to you and you as the author strongly believe in the merit of the story, then the story’s value will shine through in your words and your readers will understand this too.
To conclude, if you want to tell great stories, you can start right now. Stop telling stories & listen to real life people’s stories. The next time a colleague tells you a story, don’t think of what you’re going to say next because the lesson of your life may passes you by. By listening to real life stories, you will understand the dynamic of them… Better, you will develop an instinct. So Listen!
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