In thinking about how I might write about storytelling, a family dinner discussion about my uncle’s recent passing provided some inspiration. My mother was talking about the upcoming memorial plans, and she said, “I wish I could think of something profound to say. He deserves it, but I just can’t think of the right thing.” So I said, “Tell them a story.”
What followed (after initial hesitation about wanting to choose something that presumably fit the definition of “right”), was a table-wide volley of Uncle Mike stories—funny, interesting, filled with our favorite quotes, great memories, and evoking that exact sense of who he was.
How do you tell a story?
A great story will actually call on the senses of your audience. Paint the picture with likenesses so that your audience can visualize the scene. Describe the smells (good and bad), the sounds, and the feeling. And, if people can relate to the feeling, you’ve done it. You’ve captured the essence.
Also … trust me … do this:
Take them on the journey in the present tense. In. The. Now. It seems hard, but you’ll get the hang of it.
“I don’t have any good stories.”
Ever heard that one?
Actually they say everybody has a story, but the truth is we each have thousands of stories. Stories serve as a window into the past AND they are also amazing resources. Think of them like books filling the mahogany shelves of your beautiful personal reference library (you know, like the ones with the fancy ladders). Anytime you want, you can step inside these hallowed imaginary walls, and grab just the right story for that presentation, speech, or maybe even to kick off that novel you’ve been workin’ on (please note the Stewie Griffin reference).
You know what else? Organizations have stories. Brands have stories …
You want them to remember.
Tell a story because you want them to remember you, or your point, or your brand, or your awesome uncle who will be greatly missed.
The story is the hook. It’s the heart. It’s the source of real engagement because it allows people to connect with you on the human level. And again, they’re more likely to remember.