In the marketplace of ideas, there’s a long history of tactics geared toward persuasion, coercion, obfuscation, and a lot of other multi-syllable words that all point in one direction: away from truth and connection.
Now, more than ever, we live in a world of static: too many messages to process, with the majority trying to trick us into buying or believing something, or inflaming our sensibilities with a goal of monetizing our attention.
It’s exhausting, it’s false, and it’s degrading the way we communicate with each other. But if authentic storytelling is they key to cutting through the static, how do we get there?
What is a Story?
A story is a narrative that says: Listen. I have something of value to communicate to you.
Storytelling, by its primal essence, is generous, inclusive, and sincere.
What’s Not a Story?
What’s the Point of a Story?
From the first stories humans told, to today’s most effective narratives, good stories possess the quality of offering shared value and promoting mutual benefit.
They illustrate an idea, moral, or lesson through sympathetic characters, conflict, and a clear outcome.
Primal example: When I crossed that ridge, there was a lion there, so I recommend for your benefit that you stay on this side of the hill.
A more contemporary example: Katniss toppled the oppressive Capitol regime through courage, collaboration, and love.
Brand-based example: John was feeling inhibited from expressing his individuality and nonconformist creativity, until he got an Apple computer, which helped him unlock the full expression of his ideas.
What Are the Basics?
Storytelling has so much power because it is so basic—it’s hard-wired into what we are and how we live in the world. Compelling stories get our attention and make us want to share them with others. The structure of an effective story is the same across languages, regions of the world, and across time.
NEXT: Part Two. Avoiding common story-telling pitfalls and embracing the power of authenticity.