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Last updated on 7/20/22

Tell a Story that Engages your Audience

Storytelling has played an increasingly important role in the design and business worlds. In a world where we're inundated with information stories are what help make content memorable and stand out

Stories can ...

  • Inspire action! 

  • Capture attention

  • Motivate and persuade

  • Make content memorable

  • Give the audience something to relate to

  • Add a human component

  • Unite an emotion

  • Allow us to imagine the future

  • Make us want to know more

Where to start

 Inspiration can came from anywhere and any industry. So, where do you start? Thought leader Simon Sinek would say you “Start with Why”.  Whenever giving a presentation you should have a goal or something you’d like to accomplish when it’s over.  Perhaps most noteworthy is that Sinek starts by asking a series of questions. 

Simon Sinek TED talk Start With Why: How Leaders Inspire Action. [18 minutes] Watch for how he frames his talk, the questions he asks to engage the audience, and examples he shares. 

Learn to tell good stories

Learning to tell stories through is critical for hooking your audience and keeping them interested. Robert McKee is a renowned screenwriting lecturer and storyteller  and he often works with companies like Pixar and Disney. (He wrote a book on the topic, and then another on storytelling in business.) While his work is primarily associated with film, the principles he describes apply across any industry. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, McKee points out that "executives can engage listeners on a whole new level if they toss their PowerPoint slides and learn to tell good stories instead." Storytelling for McKee is never about telling a story from beginning to end. To get to the heart of a story, he begins by asking questions, looking for the less expected story or unique perspective. Sometimes it's not the the perfect happy ending that's interesting, but the story of how you got there.

Ira Glass is an American public radio personality and producer. In this short segment he talks about what it took for him to get where he is today. It's interesting to consider how one tells a story for radio (audio only), or a podcast, versus giving a face to face presentation. How can you make the subject matter relatable to your audience?

Animated version of Ira Glass on storytelling and creative work [1:55 minute].  

Look for storytelling in the world around you:

  • Check out  ads you have to watch on YouTube before your video starts (seriously, it's a great exercise as they have ~3 seconds to grab or lose your attention!)

  • Watch Pixar and Disney films. They are master storytellers and you may just have to watch more movies to get inspired!

  • Listen to podcasts like How I Built This. It recounts the stories of how many of your favorite brands got started – the ups and downs, and ultimate success.

  • Start a notebook to write down your favorite stories 

Storytelling is a skill that can help get you – and your ideas – noticed!

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