The fire is a welcome relief from the cold that surrounds the huddled group.
It's been a harsh winter, one that's left their stomachs rumbling, but that's of no concern right now. A lone figure walks into the centre of the circle, features cast into stark relief by the flickering flame. The group quiets, everyone straining to hear. They've looked forward to this, an escape from their constant fight for survival. The figure speaks. They weave a tale. A tale of bravery, monsters, light against darkness. For a few moments, they own the audience, transporting them from where they are, to a world of their creation.
I remember getting dragged before the headmaster one day in primary school, asked to explain why I had been doing so poorly at maths. I could write fantastical stories about space, packed with virtuous heroes, despicable villains, hope triumphing over despair. But I couldn't do division so well. So, I was made to feel like a failure.
That isn't right.
The fact of the matter is that storytelling works.
It lets us create a foundation for our message, tie our critical ideas into a larger whole, bring the audience along with us, igniting their imagination putting them in our shoes. We let our message resonate at an instinctual level because just like that huddled group thousands of years ago, we crave stories.
Perhaps most importantly, powerful stories challenge some of our deepest held convictions.
We hate the people who make and sell drugs. We see them as parasites on society, evils to be overcome. Yet when Walter White emerges on our screens, a narrative history behind him, a journey that we've been on him with, we root for him. Stories can make bad ideas seem great and great ones, well, something spectacular.
So throw away that PowerPoint, you know, the one with the excellent bullet points and the occasional chart. The one with lots of nicely arranged facts but no story. Let's create a story together.
What if you're in a bit of a hurry, what if that pitch is tomorrow and the dog has just eaten your laptop? Well, fear not, here's our quick five-part structure to help you build your engaging story.
1. Introduce the enemy or name the hero
Whether we're trying to solve one of our client's critical challenges or we're trying to show ourselves as the beautiful people we know we are, we have an intrinsic sense of the heroes and villains of our tale. Tell their story, their background, give them weight and character, make them real.
2. Create a sense of immediacy
That villain? They're about to conquer the world. The hero? If they don't act quickly, the day will be lost. Pacing underlines all stories, and without any urgency, your audience will lose interest. Bring to life the things at stake.
3. Take the audience to the promised land
We all like to imagine an ideal world, one where our problems are a thing of the past, where we have everything we want. For our clients, it's when their problems are no more. Take them there, show them what it looks like, the things they'll be able to do. Bring them with you on that journey.
4. Address the issues
We then need to bring our audience back to the real world, trace a route from where we are now, and how we'll get back to that incredible place. Outline the obstacles that stand in our way, demystify them from the nasty horrific monsters they are in our story to what they truly are; things that can be overcome.
5. Slay the dragon
Those lovely facts and figures you came up with? Dig them out of the recycle bin and use them here. We're going to introduce our idea once more, tying it to facts, figures and other concepts that make it real, an evidenced salvation to an issue we've built up expertly.
So get writing, tell your story, change the world. As you start doing it more and more, it'll become natural, not to mention more fun. Maybe next time you're in the pub, and your mate starts telling a story from their school-days, transporting you back in time, you'll raise a glass to the storytellers of yore and those that continue their legacy today.
H2 asset name for download that can run to three lines
At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint occaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa.