Creative commentary plus crafty composition

What’s the Story?

Once upon a time, long before the age of the printing press, not to mention modern mass media, communicating ideas occurred within groups sitting around campfires telling stories. Now that scenario is largely restricted to campgrounds, or organizational retreats, or the plots of youth-oriented horror movies. (Or the occasional summer blockbuster – remember the opening scene of Jaws?)

According to a tale in the May issue of Toastmaster magazine, from the author of ‘The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don’t’, storyteller leaders fall into one of five categories. These are: INSPIRE, EDUCATE, SIMPLIFY, MOTIVATE, or LAUNCH MOVEMENTS.

Storytellers who inspire “embrace their own story of triumph over adversity and by doing so, they challenge us to dream bigger”. Uninspiring origins encourage the imagination to invent worlds where anything seems possible. Sharing such a story, be it from life or business, is valuable to listeners “because we are hardwired to love rags-to-riches stories”. There is meaning in strife.

Storytellers who educate “offer a new way of looking at the world…through the power of the narrative”. Humans relate to stories better than to data (at least, most of us do!); therefore, an effective educator will use data to support ideas, but “rely on stories to move people to action”.

Storytellers who simplify are frequently entrepreneurs, “who (explain) complex ideas simply, clearly and concisely”. Time-bound presentations, wherein short and simple words “describe the problem and the solution”, make it easy for almost anyone to understand. Compelling narrative includes “villains and heroes in the form of problems and their solutions”. Complexity of subject matter is converted to text with short sentences and frequent one syllable words.

Storytellers who motivate are inspiring leaders, who build brands. One force tapped into is the universally powerful one of self-esteem. This can filter down to daily business activity. For example, peer group meetings where stories are elicited demonstrating model behaviour when interacting with customers, will evoke a ‘hero’ appreciation from peers; this kind of recognition is a strong motivator.

Storytellers who launch movements often succeed because of revealing challenges in their own story, unveiling issues of the heart ‘to make an emotional connection’ with an audience. Moreover, “storytellers who change the world are often inspired themselves by the storytellers who came before them”. We should appreciate that ’storytelling is not a luxury’: it is a part of our selves, ‘because the self is a story’. Thus, we are all storytellers – who need to embrace this reality, and work on ‘shaping’ our own futures.

So, let’s see… what’s the story?

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