Everyone loves stories – young, old, male, female, unlearned and educated – we love to hear other’s stories. We’re wired for it. Think about the last time you heard a remarkable story and how it made you feel. The more elaborate the storytelling, the more engrossed we became and leaned in to hear every word.
But when was the last time you told a story? Were you good at it? If not, you can be; it just takes a bit of imagination. And, because storytelling is so powerful, you may want to work to change that. If you are looking to increase your ability to influence others, storytelling is a great tool.
Think about it. If you were looking to get your point across, do you think it would be more effective with a laundry list of facts, or with a story? Consider the last speech you heard – were you waiting with baited breath to hear the facts; or did you do all you could to stay focused.
Don’t get me wrong – facts are important and can be interesting; however, all things being equal, the story is going to win out. It allows those that you are trying to convince to connect with the people in your story and if you use facts with a story, it’s all the better.
You have experienced storytelling on the internet. When you check out some of the top sales pages, you see they immediately engage you in a story. (If you don’t know what I am talking about, just do a search on a keyword and check out some of the top results. One of them is bound to be a long-form sales page.) When you read through the sales page, pay attention to the story that is being told. It often starts out with sharing about someone who was having a particular problem. They tried everything to solve it and was getting discouraged.
Then, a possible solution is introduced but not yet revealed. This is a great strategy as it peaks your curiosity. First, the writer describes being in a similar situation and how it is not your (the reader’s) fault. The industry, your past or some other entity is against you and this is why you are not successful or could do better, etc.
Finally, the story culminates with how this wonderful product or service successfully solved the person’s problem and that it will take care of your problem as well. There may be variations on the theme, but this is typical of a long-form sales letter.
This is one very effective way storytelling is used, yet you don’t need to sell something in order to incorporate storytelling. You can use storytelling to increase readership for your newsletter, bring more people into your tribe, organization or group. Storytelling can go a long way in helping you connect with subscribers. When you relay situations that you or others have experienced and describe it using a storytelling format, you will find they will want more of these stories because they can relate.
For parents, for example, storytelling can also be used to dissuade their children from doing certain actions. We use this technique all the time. I can remember telling how I did not listen to my parents and played with matches and how I almost set myself on fire! These types of stories give their child something to visualize and think about before they do something similar.
Parents also share stories of other people they knew when they were kids who suffered some tragic circumstance because of bad behavior. Again, very effective – I am sure you can think of at least one story your parents or relatives told you that had an impact.
So, the next time you want to truly get the attention of an audience and compel them to take some type of action, start with storytelling. I guarantee it will produce results. So, go ahead and tell your story!
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