In her best-seller “The Story Factor”, storyteller Annette Simmons identifies 6 stories every person would need when in a position of trying to influence or share a message.
These stories are to be used in different situations, but their final purpose remains the same: create an emotional bond with your the listener, capture his attention, get him to see what you see and stick to his memory.
“Stories are memory aids, instruction manuals and moral compasses.”
#1 – Who Are You?
This is probably the most important and useful story you’ll ever have to tell. You’ll use it almost everyday, everywhere, in any situation.
This story makes you relatable to your audience. It is meant to be authentic rather than perfect. People admire others more for trying than being perfect. Perfection is not relatable.
You don’t always need to tell your whole story, sometimes just a slice of your life, a meaningful moment, is enough to tell the kind of person you are.
And remember, this is certainly not a lecture of your resume. This is boring.
#2 – Why are you here?
Before you even start asking for their attention about what’s coming next, address their primary concern: what’s in it for YOU? What are you doing here?
You see, people are naturally suspicious. They don’t especially have a problem with selfish goals as long as they don’t feel exploitative. And admitting you have one will make you more trustworthy.
“I you want to learn about a culture, listen to the stories.
If you want to change a culture, change the stories.”
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#3 – The Vision
This is where you will want to put your creativity and imagination to work. You want to depict the desired situation in four dimensions, using the five senses to allow them to dive into your own point of view.
Seeing where you are, feeling what you touch, smelling the ambient air, tasting what you eat or drink, hearing a voice or a noise…
When you start with something like “Imagine for a moment…”, “Have you ever dreamed of…”, “What if you…” or any other similar trigger, you will active the part of their brain that manages imagination, creativity and memory.
#4 – Teaching Stories
Teaching stories are to be found everywhere: in literature, folktales, parables, your own experiences and those of others.
Listening to those stories is a skill you’ll want to develop if you want to master the art of storytelling.
When I was about 7, I thought that it would be funny to frighten my mom to death by faking falling from the window. That’s when she told me the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”.
You know, that young goat keeper who had a lot of fun waking up the entire village several nights in a row, pretending there was a wolf attack. Until the day the wolf ate him because nobody anwsered his call for help when he really needed it.
I still remember that moment very clearly, my Mom’s anxiety turning into anger of being tricked, then calming down to tell me this story. I already told this story to my daughters when I caught them lying. Stories sticks.
#5 – Values In Action
When I was working in the corporate world, there were values in capital letters all over the walls. But I heard many stories from employees deceived by their managers asking them to respect those values while they didn’t themselves.
“Values in action” stories are a way to showcase that you lead by example, you walk your talk. You can also show how others did and how it worked for them.
#6 – I Know What You Think
People will always have concerns and doubts about any new idea. It is a natural and useful reflex to analyse the situation and prevent danger. When you can address those doubts before they even have to think about it, you remove barriers and ease the process of acceptance.
Now let’s get your hands dirty… I made something for you: a fillable workbook to craft your “Who Are You” story. You can download it here for free. And if you need help to find and storify your others stories, I’m glad to help. You can apply for a free consultation with me here.
Now tell me: do you remember being told one of those stories? Which one was it? How did it impact you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Before I leave you, I have a confession to make: the link to “The Story Factor” I gave you in the intro is an affiliate link from Amazon. Hence, if enough of you click on it, I may earn some bucks. But this is obviously not the reason why I chose to talk about it here. Annette Simmons did a really great job with this book, and if you’re interested in storytelling for business, I highly recommend reading it.