Ever heard a story that pulled you to the edge of your seat, riveted until the end? What about one that was so powerful that it changed the way you think or even your life?
In yesterday’s post, I went over how stories are important to communication effectively. But in order to truly be effective, you have to tell stories that draw people’s attention. You have to tell good stories.
Let me show you.
I had a great conversation today with one of my old high school buddies. He told me how he created a successful business with a lot of learning and hard work.
Great. I don’t care.
I had a great conversation today with one of my old high school buddies. He had always had a rough life. In and out of foster care throughout the time I knew him, no one thought he would amount to much. But he set out to prove them wrong. Through nights that often seemed hopeless to him after working long shifts at his day job, he kept going because he knew that one day it would be worth it. Finally, he managed to construct a successful business from the ground up and now has gotten to the point where he has the time and money to help people who are where he used to be.
This is a really short and simple example, but you probably paid a lot more attention to the second story, right? What’s the difference? Here are a few things that all good stories have in common.
Emotion is the foundation of a good story.
Because humans are deeply emotional beings. Good storytellers realize that and make sure that their stories tickle the emotions. In the above example, there is a lot more emotion infused into it. What was the character feeling while he struggled? What were his motivations?
2. Conflict and Resolution
This is your basic story arc. If there is no conflict your story can’t really even have a story. It’s boring. Look again at the example above. The first has no conflict. The second sketches out how he worked through obstacles (conflict) to get where he’s at now (resolution).
3. Have a Point
Stories have been told for thousands of years. There’s a pretty good reason for this. Stories are fantastic at conveying a memorable point. Every good story should resonate with some aspect of being a human. It could move the audience, make them laugh, or make them ponder it afterward. If you can tap into a common experience to evoke a reaction from your audience, it makes the story more personal to them. And if it’s personal, they will be more likely to remember it.
This one is less of a structural thing and more of how you convey your story. I’ll put it simply.
If you don’t care, other people have no reason to care. And you can tell when someone really cares about what they are saying. Think about it.
Imagine you have two people telling you a story. It’s the exact same story – same content, same words.
One of them tells the story well, and it has a good point. They are clear in what they are conveying and their tone varies, but it seems fake. Their legs are crossed and they lean back in their chair.
Then, the other person starts talking. You can see the life in their eyes. Their movements are animated and excited when the story calls for it and slow and deliberate when needed. They want you to understand the point of the story and why it means something to them. That is conveyed in every aspect of their body language.
This kind of communication can’t be faked. People can tell.
It all comes down to one thing: be interesting.
Be interesting and the people who are listening to you will actually want to listen to you. It doesn’t matter if you are telling a story in a casual conversation or in front of a group of people. Just tell it well and you will communicate effectively.