Tell Me A Story

Posted in: Creative, Language, writing

On: March 13, 2012

Brands spend billions of dollars to convince you to embrace their products. Politicians spend time convincing you to embrace their policies. Presenters sweat over their Powerpoint clip art and transitions.

So why don’t you care more about what they are saying?

Few brands, politicians and presenters succeed because they are ignoring the increasingly lost art of storytelling. Stories are the most fundamental way that people communicate. But more and more we see people “talking at” their audience. It is one-way, lacking emotion, relevance and any kind of meaningful connection.

It’s just boring.

For centuries, thinkers have described the structure of story, from Aristotle and Freytag to Joseph Campbell’s influential theory about the hero’s journey.

There are commonalities to story structure. Countless movies you watch share the structure described by Campbell. Look at the hero’s journey in Star Wars, Harry Potter or the Matrix and you’ll see what I mean.

The same goes for presentations. Good presenters understand the power of story, how to engage their audience through universal structural elements. The structure is different from that described by Campbell, of course, but does share some elements. Check out this TED talk to understand the structure of great presentations.

Recognize the power of story and structure and you can improve how you communicate, regardless of the channel.

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