I believe in the power of claiming and sharing our stories. And if you’re a business owner, storytelling is key to building a brand, too.
Why? Because we’re all storytellers by nature, and that includes your audience.
Research proves that the reason stories have remained such a central part of human society for centuries is because our brains are wired for story.
We make sense of the world through story.
We share our ideas best through story.
We connect most deeply through story.
Just think about being with friends around a fire, sharing stories about what happened to you during the past week.
Or think about when you meet a new person. How do you get to know them and begin forming a friendship? You share stories with one another. About your childhood. About your most embarrassing moment. About what you did last weekend. Your favorite movie and why you could watch Law & Order marathons for days.
And why do we default to sharing stories whether we’re around people we’ve known for a long time or just getting to know someone new? Because stories are the easiest way to form points of connection.
While stories are all around us in our personal lives, there has been a separation between this aspect of our humanness and how we do business—one that has just started to be addressed in the last couple of decades.
I appreciate this shift and want to see it continue. Because I know owning and claiming our stories is key to building a live and business on purpose.
But how do you start sharing stories?
Here are 3 tips for sharing better stories, inspired by the book Stories that Stick.
1. Understand what a story actually is, and what it isn’t
It’s important to know that a story isn’t just a series of events; otherwise, anything would be interesting, including a chronological list on your About page that includes all the things that have happened in your business in the last 10 years. But that’s definitely not a story, so please don’t do that.
Instead, a story is the telling of a series of events that produce some kind of change for a character.
Therefore, a story always has a character within a detailed context, or several characters, that we connect with and begin to care about.
A story always includes a transformative moment, or a specific point in time or space that prompts some kind of change in your character.
For example, maybe your character faces a decision or has to go on a quest or needs help solving a problem. This moment is what ignites the transformation—the emotional rollercoaster, the ups and downs, the challenges and obstacles, and the eventual growth (or not)—and that’s what the story is actually about. That’s what keeps us watching the entire film or turning the pages or scrolling through to the end.
And with that in mind, your story always needs specific details that are relevant to your intended audience. This way, they can connect with what’s happening and picture in their minds and connect to you with authentic, human emotions. Often these specific details paint the imagery that helps your listeners (or readers) see themselves in the story.
If you nail these four components in your story — a character, a transformative moment, specific details, and authentic emotions — it’ll make a huge difference in whatever you’re sharing.
2. Understand the structure of a story
Once you understand the essential components of a story, you need to organize them in a way that produces what we expect to hear in a story. And yes, what you learned in middle school English still holds true: Stories have a beginning, middle, and end.
But more specifically, they have:
- A normal
- A transformative moment
- A new normal
Here’s what you need to know about each.
- The normal, or the beginning of the story, is where you introduce the character (or characters) and the context in which they live. This is the part of the story where you draw the audience in, painting a picture of how life is for the character before change happens.
- The transformative moment is when everything changes, as we discussed above. There’s a choice to be made, an issue to be resolved, a challenge to be faced. Or maybe it’s an external occurrence that causes a change in the character. Whatever it is, this is the thing that causes everything to be different.
- The new normal is what it’s like after the transformative moment. What did that big change cause the character to learn or do differently? Are things better or worse? What lesson was learned? However things are now, this is where the point of the story lives and where the audience should be called to act or at least ponder something new.
So, as you begin to tell more stories in your business and life, play around with this structure and see how it changes the way you share a message. You might be surprised at how much more powerful that simple change can make.
3. Capture the stories that naturally happen all around you
It’s often difficult to sit down and crank out a story when you need to, but when you start to pay attention to the stories that are naturally happening all around you, you can build up a story bank that will serve you well in the future.
For instance, when you solve a client’s problem by helping them utilize your service and you receive positive feedback, you can share that story to easily illustrates your value.
Or when you find yourself dealing with customer service and have a great experience, you could share that story to illustrate the importance of treating your customers like human beings.
Or maybe you share stories about the first time you failed or succeeded or almost quit or had a breakthrough in your business, because those are all amazing opportunities for stories—and ones many business owners can relate to.
So, when something happens that makes you learn a lesson or prompts you to think differently, take note of them (either digitally or in a notebook. If you capture those moments worth sharing as they occur right in front of you, you’ll never run out of stories to tell.
And then, the next time you’re sitting down to craft a message to your audience, you don’t have to list off facts or statistics. You can share a story they actually want to hear–and the payoff will be worth the effort.
Interested in learning more about using storytelling in your business? Check out my new brand storytelling program, Claim Your Story, Build Your Brand, which will help you use stories intentionally and thoughtfully in your business!