If by the end of this post you don’t understand what is “storytelling,” I won’t have been effective either in my own “story” or in the “telling.”
The fact is that the idea of “storytelling” has become fashionable. Brands, people and companies say they’re doing it. But most of them don’t really know how it’s done. Done well, that is.
There are those who say that: “Everything is storytelling.” Some even resort to the circular definition: “Storytelling is telling a story.”
BUT WHAT IS IT, REALLY?
We want you to have a good idea of what storytelling entails, and, more than that, a good one. And we want you to understand how and when good storytelling applies.
So, storytelling: a process, a method, a science, a philosophy, a set of principles — bottom-line, what is this trendy idea that’s fast becoming an industry unto itself?
Mankind has a natural bent for telling stories. It’s probably safe to say that stories have been told since cavemen ruled the Earth. We tell stories to send children to sleep. We entertain ourselves as adults with stories, stories, stories. Basically, we’re surrounded by stories everywhere we turn. Admen tend to be the masters of the very short form.
So if we know a story when we see one, how can we use stories to our advantage?
Better yet: How can storytelling be used to engage people in a cause?
Here’s my thinking, the result of all that SOAP has done for our clients so far:
Storytelling is an art, a science, a process and method. All working together to produce a desired effect.
In the corporate world there must first be a message, whether an audience needs to hear it or not. Without the message there can be no Story! In the art and entertainment worlds, often the message is the result of a great idea developed by a scriptwriter who decided that the idea could be “bought” by an audience.
For SOAP, there are two universes: the Story and the Telling.
THE ELEMENTS OF TOLD STORY
• An idea somebody wants to share (the message)
• A vision that needs to be shared
• An audience that needs to acknowledge something
• A set of events that are yours to use (life stories, events, facts)
• An approach you want to implement
• A main message that is summed up in one phrase of high impact
• Knowing who is involved in the story (characters)
• Knowing what is preventing the characters from getting what they want (conflict)
• Knowing what goes in, what stays out, what comes first, what comes after
• Knowing how the messages are to flow: from beginning to middle to end
• Creating a beginning that draws attention and maintains audience focus
• Devising a final moment with high impact
• Finding the “truth” behind an idea, so as to make a message credible
• Writing, designing, maintaining, structuring, supporting: the theme(s)
• Editing, editing, editing, until the essence of what will be transmitted in the telling is clear, clear, clear)
THE ART OF THE TELLING
“If content is cliché, the telling will be cliché” Robert McKee.
• Expressing the story using visual language
• Acting as a means of conveying the message when presenting
• Using body language that conveys meaning(s) when telling a story (gestures, tone of voice, gaze, body posture, vocal intensity, etc.)
• Using any visual effect that helps to convey the story
• Knowing that entering onto Telling is like entering a battlefield: the strategy needs to have been defined, and the presenter needs to be ready
• With or without a presenter, the “Telling” part of the story process needs to be there, no matter what
• The medium always influences and helps enhance (or not) how the Story is told
As an example, let’s look at the same movie in different interpretations. “King Kong” is a movie that saw three different versions: in 1933, in 1976 and again in 2005. The “telling” changed each time, and each time this made a difference, but if the story hadn’t been strong to start with, we would have nothing more than three versions of a cute movie with nice imagery and special effects and no special impact.
So: tell a good story in a good way using the appropriate physical language. Be prepared. Know what you want to convey. Devise a way to tell that story in the best possible way.