Be a Story Detective

Be a Story Detective

Lately, I have observed many “change efforts” attempting to capture support of their targeted audience through some of the more traditional ways such as sharing policy after policy that limit success or sharing data upon data.  And through it all, I see that their targeted audience is not getting past the second sentence they share.

Both most likely has a "spot" in the communications effort but neither are going to capture the hearts or attention of others!

Why not? Because in our information-overwhelm, crazy-busy society, people simply have short attention spans!

Coupled with being in this era of "false" news and “alternative facts,” speculation of such approaches can occur when the change effort is at a societal level. 

Through my current work and when I was driving customer focus at a leading telecom, to get the attention of my audience, I’ve learned that nothing works better for engagement than an entertaining story with a message and a clear call to action. 

Storytelling is rooted in the wisdom of our ancient cultures across the globe. My understanding is that storytelling was the way that the wise ones in the tribe would share their teachings to the others. Across generations, it's like our DNA has been pre-wired to be receptive to storytelling and the entertainment value it brings. We are programmed to “get” the messages and lessons that come from story.

I am frequently asked, so how do you determine what story to actually tell?

To me, there are 4 things that make a story the right one:

  1. First off, the story needs to be relatable to the audience. They need to be able to see themselves, a friend, or a relative in the story they are hearing.

  2. Secondly, it needs to be visual. The audience should be able to picture the situation. Sufficient details need to be shared for the listeners/readers to see the scenario in their mind’s eye.

  3. Third, the story must relate to a topic that the audience actually cares about; it needs to be of something important. 

  4. And lastly, the story needs to inspire an emotional response. Sometimes a more positive story has the bigger impact; sometimes a more “negative” is more effective.  While when to use which is a topic for a future time, just by being aware of this will help you to select the better story for the situation at hand. Bottom line, the story needs to spur emotion.

In order to find the right story for your audience, I encourage you to be a "story detective" and search for the right story - one that will inspire or drive the change that you seek in your world!  I also encourage to you enlist the help of those around you to let you know of great stories they hear that could illustrate your points. 

Interested in listening to an audio on this topic?  Then click here to listen to her podcast episode.