A Bit About Storytelling

My take on storytelling

1. Must be a “story” with a beginning, middle and end that is relevant to the listeners.
2. Must be highly compressed
3. Must have a hero – the story must be about a person who accomplished something notable or noteworthy.
4. Must include a surprising element – the story should shock the listener out of their complacency. It should shake up their model of reality.
5. Must stimulate an “of course!” reaction – once the surprise is delivered, the listener should see the obvious path to the future.
6. Must embody the change process desired, be relatively recent and “pretty much” true.
7. Must have a happy ending.

In Stephen Denning’s words, “When a springboard story does its job, the listeners’ minds race ahead, to imagine the further implications of elaborating the same idea in different contexts, more intimately known to the listeners. In this way, through extrapolation from the narrative, the re-creation of the change idea can be successfully brought to birth, with the concept of it planted in listeners’ minds, not as a vague, abstract inert thing, but an idea that is pulsing, kicking, breathing, exciting – and alive.”

That may be a little too much excitement on a daily basis, something you save for the really important things, but it matters nonetheless that turning data into a story is a valid and necessary skill. But is it for everyone?

Not really. Actual storytelling is a craft. Not everyone knows how to do it or can even learn it. But everyone can tell a story. It just may not be of the caliber of storytelling. But to get a point across and have it stick (even if it’s just in your own mind, not to an audience), learn to apply metaphor.

More on metaphor lately

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