Updated: Feb 18, 2020
As the sun sets, a group of people gather around a rustling fire. Wood crackles, almost seeming to whisper secrets never told. A slight breeze whistles past trees and tall grass, together making a melodic rhythm only rivaled by the throbbing beat of a small child’s heart as she stares into the flames.
The family - the community - share a meal - a large animal who seemed to almost surrender himself so that this family could survive another day. As their bellies fill and their eyes grow heavy from the long day, the eldest of the group begins to tell a story. Not with words. Not with song. But with smoke and gestures--raw, elegant depictions of how their meal came to be. The sacrifice. The strength. A lesson for the younger ones who stayed behind, too young for the hunt.
There are no schools here. No internet. Education and morals come through the form of visual and verbal communication. Everything around the people told them some type of story. Everything had a purpose and had a lesson to be taught. The key was paying attention and finding a connection and usefulness.
If your goal is to get through to all people, I suggest you speak to the type of communicator you think they are (visual, kinesthetic, auditory). Personally, I’m highly Kinesthetic (hands-on learner) and visual. Others lean towards their more auditory senses--through hearing.
From cave drawings, to oral and written traditions, to multimedia technology, storytelling has been ever-present in human existence, amplifying the user’s intentions and creating easier ways for people to connect, educate, sell, and inspire.
From cave drawings to oral and written traditions, to multimedia technology, storytelling has been ever-present in human existence, amplifying the user’s intentions and creating easier ways for people to connect, educate, sell, and inspire.
Content marketing that connects and converts
We live in a world where marketing is increasingly using storytelling to market and draw on consumers’ emotions. People aren’t buying the product; they are buying how it makes them feel. In contrast to more visual and empathetic storytelling campaigns like Dove’s commercials, you have simple infographic, visual storytelling similar to the drawings of the ancient cave dwelling humans.
As a society, storytelling is ingrained in our marketing and information-based outlets. Look at blogs, posts, and written articles as examples. They have similar structures to more conventional storytelling such as novels. Brands are using storytelling in exciting ways to inspire thought and draw upon basic emotions. Any business can do it, as can people with personal brands.
Storytelling is a subtle way to influence someone
When expressing yourself or your ideas through storytelling, it is important to speak to peoples’ different learning styles from your own. As a confidence and multimedia business coach, a key aspect of transformation is strengthening the client’s foundation within themselves and exploring the cause of certain traumas. In many sessions, I use storytelling to communicate my point and make it easier to adjust to things. During Hypnotherapy sessions, storytelling is my method of helping my clients explore their imagination and use it to influence their own thoughts and behaviors.
If I only spoke to people the way I speak in normal conversations, they may only connect to the literal messaging--the words being used. When using storytelling in work-related situations, I am expressing the emotions and imagery and metaphor and deeper connections and sensations that underlie the literal words. When crafting your story, think about ‘how am I connecting with people who think differently than I do?’
Speak their language
If your goal is to get through to all people, I suggest you speak to the type of communicator you think they are (visual, kinesthetic, auditory). Personally, I’m highly Kinesthetic (hands on learner) and visual. Others lean towards their more auditory senses--through hearing.
If they are visual you should use evocative language they can picture in their mind. For kinesthetic, use language that represents feelings. Auditory learners do well with language that depicts sounds.
When using tools such as a metaphor, make sure you are clear on the story basics – the who, what, and how. Metaphors use symbols to create relatable stories that help you effectively communicate with your coworkers or clients. It’s a great way to resolve problems or conflict at the unconscious level – without their conscious awareness. This works for situations you have experienced firsthand and for hyperbole.
In early education, hyperbolic stories are used not only to entertain but also to educate and instill values.
There is a famous children’s book character called The Little Engine That Could. The main character is a small blue train. In the story, there is a longer and bigger train who is tasked with pulling a large load over a big mountain. Chug Chug Chug. The more robust train breaks down and is unable to complete the journey. Other larger trains are asked to help pull the train carrying the large load. Engine after engine, the larger ones refuse to help. That’s when the Little Engine is asked, and he readily agrees. Overcoming his size, the Little Engine succeeds in pulling the train over the mountain while repeating his motto: "I-think-I-can".
The story is used to teach children the value of optimism and hard work.
There are ways to use storytelling daily when working with others. It is a great tool to position yourself to be memorable. Think about it; someone might not remember the exact story or what it is that you offer, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.
The majority of who we are and our daily habits stem from our subconscious minds. Gestures, the stories you tell, and even how you hold your body all play important parts in getting your point across. If you teach and inspire only the conscious mind, then whoever is on the receiving end of your story is only getting a small bit of the transformation and motivation you could have provided.