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Last updated on 2/18/22

Discover the art of storytelling

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Storytelling is a tool for everyone

What is storytelling?

Storytelling is a term popularised by marketing and communications. The principle isn’t new. In fact, it has existed as long as humankind.

This is very useful with a content meant for sharing with others, because human beings are much better at retaining information transmitted to them when their empathy, sensitivity and emotions are brought into play.

To put it simply:

  1. You can communicate a story better than a concept.

  2. We are better at retaining what touches us.

So, it’s an excellent technique to use during a meeting or lecture or in a teaching context.

However, we know that you’re about to tell us:

“Some people have a natural charisma, they have a gift for it…”

No doubt about it. However, don’t confuse that with extroversion, which is not required. Someone who is calm, discreet, even timid can certainly captivate an audience.

If you are timid or introverted, that isn’t a burden — on the contrary!

But you could say to us:

“Well, OK, but I don’t know how to tell stories.”

Don't worry! You can learn storytelling.

Analyze the mechanisms of storytelling

There are rules and codes that you can learn and apply.

How do I put across my content by storytelling?

It’s easy, you’ll find the trick in all stories! You’ll see it in every book that you read, and in every film or series that you watch. It’s even more transparent in stories with a happy ending.

Take the test. Watch a film, for example a romantic comedy, and do the following exercise:

Identify the components of the story

  • Who is the hero (main character)?

  • What quest are they undertaking?

  • For what objective?

  • Who or what are their auxiliaries (associate characters, events or positive goals that help them in their quest)?

  • Who or what are their opponents (obstacles, enemies, negative events or objects that hamper their quest)?

Retrace the course of the story

Every story passes through five stages.

It begins at point A, which is the initial situation and is centered on presenting the hero.

… and ends at point B, which is the final situation.

Between times (between point A and point B), the story passes through several stages:

  • When something happens that causes concern; the moment when the initial situation becomes complicated.

  • A series of incidents follow; the adventures and struggles the hero goes through to overcome the situation.

  • The resolution marks the end of the difficulties and the bringing about of a solution.

Construct your own story

Use the same structure to build your content, by including in it the same elements, and you’ll be storytelling!

To understand this, we shall analyse the Walt Disney story of “The Little Mermaid” using the principles of storytelling.

The component parts:

  • Who is the hero? ➡️ Princess Ariel

  • What is her quest? ➡️ To have legs

  • For what objective? ➡️ To be with Prince Eric

  • Who or what are her auxiliaries? ➡️ Flounder and Sebastian (but also, in the end, her father)

  • Who are her opponents? ➡️ Ursula above all (but also her condition of being a mermaid and, in the beginning, her father)

The structure:

  1. The initial situation: Princess Ariel is a mermaid who falls in love with Eric, a human.

  2. Cause for concern: King Triton, Ariel’s father, is furious. He forbids her to approach humans and destroys her possessions and souvenirs associated with Eric.

  3. Incidents and struggle: Ariel defies her father’s authority and puts herself in danger by consulting Ursula for her magic powers. She is given legs for three days, but, in exchange, loses her voice. She discovers the human world, then becomes a mermaid again and Ursula’s captive.

  4. Resolution: Her father fights and overcomes Ursula, then transforms his daughter into a human.

  5. Resolved situation: Ariel can live with Eric in the human world.

Does this seem naïve to you? Be aware that you can reproduce this structure with any content or situation.

Let’s recap!

  • Storytelling is an effective technique for speaking in public.

  • People are better at retaining information presented in a story because they remember things that move them.

  • To deliver your content using storytelling techniques, identify the key elements that make up your story and list them on a sheet of paper: the hero, the quest, the objective, the auxiliaries, and the opponents.

  • To structure your content using a 5-stage storyline, write the following on a piece of paper: the initial situation, the setback, the incidents/adventures, the outcome, the final situation, or the resolution.

Join us in the next chapter, where you will learn how to develop your content like a pro!

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