What is Storytelling?
Storytelling is something we all do, whether or not we’re aware of it. From campfires and shamans thousands of years ago, through cave wall paintings and hieroglyphs, to books and presentations. If you’re teaching your kids something – you tell a story, if you pitch an idea to your boss – you tell a story, if you’re an artist – you tell a story (with picture, video or words), if you’re looking for investors for your startup – you tell a story. You tell stories every day in every aspect of your life. You tell these stories to yourself, to your family, to your colleagues, to your competitors. Humans thrive on stories, they learn from them, live for them, buy & sell through them.
Can you teach or learn Storytelling?
Some experts say storytelling is a technique that can be learned and not everyone can master. Others say it cannot be taught but that we’re all born with it and need to discover it within ourselves. When you look at the various uses of storytelling in business, sales, marketing and education, you see various forms f stories, techniques and some stories work better than others. If you’ve ever tried to mimic the style of another brand in your marketing, only to fail, you know what we’re talking about. What works for one person or business may not necessarily work for another and the reason is simple: it is not about the story. It’s not about the storyteller. No one cares about you or about your story. People only care about themselves. It’s always about the audience and whether or not the audience can see its own reflection in the story.
In other words, and as you’ll soon hear in the two wonderful TEDx talks below, it’s all about the people who consume the story. It is about whether you manage to transform them from a passive audience to an engaged active, participating audience (or as we like to call them: a community).
The most important things to know about Storytelling
Before we dive into the talks, here is a summary of the key take away points from both of them:
- Storytelling is an art anyone can and everyone should master
- Storytelling is something we can all do
- Storytelling has a science (biochemistry – hormones!) behind it
- Good Storytelling is about the audience. Always.
- Stories are always something people tell other people. Even when a brand tells a story to market a product – always think of it as one person telling a story to another person.
- Even though Storytelling has some basic natural laws (human nature laws!), learning them doesn’t always mean you will be a better storyteller. You still have to remember why you are doing this and who you are telling the story to.
- Even in Storytelling, our basic 3Ws model (Why – Who – What) works! If you remember WHY you tell the story, WHO you tell it to then the WHAT (the story itself) will work better to engage the audience.