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Nothing’s more compelling than great storytelling

January 21, 2013


I can’t help you with your communications strategy until you have something worth hearing.

So tell me a story. Tell me how you got started, why you love what you do and what effort goes into your products and services.

Storytelling isn’t a lost art. We lock on to the most compelling narratives every day.

These three examples will help you understand the value of a story worth sharing.

1. Reddit: “What little tricks do you play on your SO (significant other)?”

I found these to be hilarious …

  • When we’re in line at the register in any store or mall or whatever I always look at my watch and say “Oh shit, your husband is going to be home any minute!”
  • When we drive in the summer I turn on her seat warmer on full blast without her knowing.
  • We always use “open and honest time” for times when we need to have a serious talk with each other…it’s like our version of “we need to talk.” Even when I have good news, I’ll say “baby, I need to be open and honest…” and that usually freaks him out. Haha it’s kind of mean, but it really gets his attention.
  • He’s deceased now, but he used to like to imitate Pepe le Pew (the skunk from Bugs Bunny) and waltz me around the room. So one day I bought a small toy skunk and we’d take turns hiding it in unexpected places. It has small magnets on each foot, so one time I put it on the inside of the lid of the trunk of the car. It took months for him to notice.
    Now I hide it on myself. It’s only January, so I still remember that it’s inside one of the boxes with Xmas decorations, but I’ll forget by the time December rolls around, and will be surprised again.

    • This is simultaneously the cutest and saddest thing I’ve read in a long time in reddit. internet hugs
  • My wife absolutely loves finding loose change around the house. I hide all my loose change around the house.
  • Sometimes we play this game where she leaves me for another guy and I lay in bed and cry.
    I’m the best at this game. 😦

Takeaway: Stories can be short. One or two sentences can paint a vivid beginning, middle and end.

2. Community storytelling

Birmingham has been gripped in a wave of community storytelling events. Arc Light Stories has featured locals telling tales around a common theme at a downtown restaurant. Earlier this month, a Saturday night event focused on “My First Time: Stories About New Experiences.”

On Thursday and Friday, the Unchained Tour stopped in the Woodlawn area in Birmingham and Montevallo respectively for two shows. The touring performers — storytellers from New York nonprofit the Moth, musicians and circus performers — set out across the South to promote local independent bookstores.

Part of the event features audience participation, with short stories from volunteers.

Takeaway: Stories can from the community, not just the corporation. Share the microphone.

3. L’affaire Manti Te’o

Manti Te'o, Lennay KekuaSports news site Deadspin uncovered the hoax of 2013: Lennay Kekua, the dead girlfriend of Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te’o never existed, though she had been covered many times during the team’s almost undefeated run this past season.

The revelation has created a firestorm of intrigue and doubt. Who created this elaborate hoax? Was Te’o a victim or a co-conspirator? If Deadspin hadn’t uncovered the truth, how far would this have gone?

Consider the original narrative for a moment: A mysterious woman hooked a Heisman candidate from afar. The siren song of romance has blinded unsuspecting suitors since long before this online fauxmance, long before the 1897 play “Cyrano de Bergerac.”

Sometimes, we blind ourselves to a cold reality for the warmth of a heart-pounding, truly engaging yet utterly false lie. It might be a fantastic movie or a lover’s whispers, but we give in to the story.

Takeaway: An outstanding story can overcome skepticism, reason and apathy. Use it wisely and well.

Tell me a story. And make it a good one.

Photo: Glen Meye (CC)

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 22, 2013 1:41 pm

    Investigating is an exhilarating feeling – what I wouldn’t have given to have been that Deadspin reporter!

    One of my favorite investigation experiences was delving into my own story, woven in with what my parents had told me, to see if it really happened the way I remembered it:

  2. Tanya Romo permalink
    February 28, 2013 12:54 pm

    Do you provide golf shirts and caps with a company logo embroidered on them if art work is provided?


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