People are naturally drawn to stories. Audiences spend millions of dollars in movie theaters, engrossed in a good storyline.
Millions of novels are sold to those who want to jump into a fantasy world in an effort to follow an exceptional plot. The popular “This Is Us” television show has sky-high ratings every week because we have grown to love the Pearson family through their individual stories. Chances are high that even if you don’t watch “This Is Us,” you know all about it from the commercials and people talking about it. This is the effect of telling compelling stories with characters you grow to love. THIS is what you’re aiming for with your own stories.
Stories can be powerful if you know how to grab your audience’s attention. You have a short amount of time to pique their interest, but it takes much more effort to keep them interested. It’s easy for me to say, “Tell a story to connect with your ideal audience,” but where do you begin? Do you start from the day you were born and continue through your awkward middle school years? Most likely not. First, you need to create a plan; then, you need to decide which details to share and how many details are warranted.
1. Make your story compelling. Do you have a “hook” that will catch your audience’s attention right away?
2. Know the purpose of your story. Don’t just talk for the sake of talking. Point out the connection before your audience gets bored and questions why they’re spending time listening.
3. Use vivid descriptions and strong words. Avoid passive voice or sounding wishy-washy. Avoid using too many statistics. Instead, paint a striking picture in the minds of your audience to draw them deeper into the story.
4. Don’t brag; connect instead. While your accomplishments may be impressive and will set you apart from the vast majority, don’t bore your audience with them. Keep these impressive feats on your resume. When telling your story, relate to your audience by telling them about all the times you messed up. Everyone messes up, so that’s a common thread among all of us. How you came out of your mess is what will impress your audience.
5. Connect emotionally. Decide which emotion you want to tap into during your story and provide information to your audience that will elicit that emotion. People will remember you better if you add emotion to your story. Think of all those times you cried at those sappy romance movies.
6. Avoid coming across as Ferris Bueller’s boring teacher. OK, this is a throwback from the ‘80s, but in the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” his teacher has the most monotone voice in the world. You can imagine just how awful it must be to sit in his classroom after just hearing a moment of his dialogue. Avoid this at all cost! You want to engage your audience, not bore them and make them run for the doors.
7. Give your audience what matters. Learn to edit the details to avoid putting them into a boredom trance. You’re not fabricating anything; you’re simply picking and choosing wisely which details to share and which to keep locked up.
You’ll notice that these tips progress naturally, from grabbing their attention to making a connection to providing a satisfying conclusion. With some tweaking and practice, your story will be perfected and ready for the audience.
Explore Storytelling Even Further with the Entrepreneurs Storytelling Bootcamp
If storytelling sounds complicated to you, check out my latest self-study course. In just four modules, you’ll learn how to rediscover the reason for starting your business; you will figure out what makes your story unique, how to create a template or outline so you can modify your story based on different audiences and their unique needs; and how to make your story relevant so clients can relate and want to buy. Get it here!
Meet Tracey Lee Davis, the brains behind ZingPop Social Media, a company that helps small business owners become online marketing rockstars! As a social media expert and Certified Partner for Constant Contact, Tracey Lee coaches entrepreneurs on utilizing social media and provides comprehensive management for their email marketing campaigns. Tracey Lee is a popular speaker at associations and business groups, and she's been awarded some pretty cool titles, like one of the Silicon Valley Business Journal's 2022 Silicon Valley Woman of Influence, Alignable's Local Business Person of the Year for San Jose (2018-2023), and a Top 25 U.S. Business Mentor of 2021. Plus, she's a Certified Content Marketing Strategist and the Co-Owner and Vice President of the Women's Networking Alliance. And let's not forget, she has a serious love affair with cheese, popcorn, and comic book movies!