5 Tips for Impactful Storytelling
In an age of social media, video and shortened attention spans, how do you get people to not only listen to what you’re saying but also engage? Through the ancient (and still relevant) art of storytelling.
While we now have unlimited ways of sharing information, one thing hasn’t changed. The impact a story has making a personal connection.
Stories can (and should!) be used in blogs, social media posts, video, emails, presentations, speaking notes…and much more. Use the story to explain complex information, get people emotionally involved or take a desired action (using it for good not evil).
Here are 5 tips to help you create impactful stories in your content development.
1. Story Elements
The first step is thinking about some of the main ingredients that make up a good story. Like any recipe, make sure you include at least one of the following elements in your story:
- Animals (always gets attention)
What’s not on the list – your programs, products or services. While these may be important to you, they are not of interest to your audience. Instead, use storytelling to make the human connection between your product and your audience. How does it relate to them? Improve their lives? Make a difference they should care about?
2. Know Your Audience
The most important piece of storytelling is to remember – there is no one-size-fits-all story.
Start with thinking of the person who is hearing this story. What is their age, gender, interest, education, etc? See them as an individual who is standing in front of you. One person, not a crowd of faceless people.
Now tell the story in a way that is relevant to them, not you.
- What information do they care about?
- What is of interest to them?
- WHY should they care?
Yes, there may be people who tune out your story as it doesn’t relate to or interest them. But isn’t it better to have a group of people stand up, take notice and truly listen to your story instead of everyone dozing off?
3. Key Messages
This is all about getting to the point and staying focused.
What are the 3 key points you want people to remember? The most important information you want to share? Be as clear as possible on these points, then structure your story around them.
In a previous blog post I wrote about Why Self Care is Important to Your Success. My three keys messages were:
- Extreme stress = health issues
- Only you can make you a priority
- Self care is individual – find what works for you
I then structured my blog post, social media messaging and Facebook Live video around these three key messages. Knowing my audience is primarily women, I talked about some of pressures I’ve felt as a working mom, and some self-care strategies I’ve put into place.
I didn’t blather on about latest research, hot trends or products to try out. Rather, I focused on my key messages, sharing some personal challenge and insights on these points. By structuring my thoughts around 3 key messages, I was able to be consistent, get my points across and make a connection with my audience using a variety of tools to share my story.
4. Make it Personal
If you’ve read any my writing, either blog posts or my two books, you’ll know I’m all about being personal. No this doesn’t mean sharing the gory details about my personal life. It’s about being a real person. With real issues, flaws, life lessons and, most importantly, a personality.
No one wants to hear how perfect you are. We all mess up. We all struggle, fail and have wins. Share these. Be relatable.
When I speak at conferences, I don’t just talk about successes. I’m also open and honest about some failures or when things didn’t go so well along the way. Through our vulnerability, we can break down some walls and preconceptions, which allows our audience to connect with us on a deeper level.
5. Select the Tools
Finally, once you’ve created your story (video, writing, social media post, etc) find the best way to share it with your audiences. Not every tool is the right tool.
So dig through your toolbox and select what works, starting with your website. For most content, this is a great home base. Now going back to your audience, what tools do they use to get information? Are they on Facebook, LinkedIN, read your emails, attend certain events?
Once you’ve figured out where you audience gets information, find a way to share your story using those tools.
For me, I have a small following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIN. So I will share my stories on these channels, changing the message to meet the needs of the audience. I also submit articles to Medium, The Mighty and other publications, depending on the topic and audience.
Don’t Strive for Perfection
So here’s the bonus tip. Stories are told by humans to humans. There is no perfect story. Give yourself permission to learn as you go.
Over the next week, I encourage you to find ways to include stories in your content development, as well as work meetings and presentations. Start small, relating a story about your observation. Then go from there. But make sure you start by thinking of the person you are sharing the story with and what interests them, not you.