The “Art” of Storytelling


Most don’t have it; a fortunate few do. Only a handful of very talented “naturals” have the ability to engage an audience through their brilliantly-crafted stories. Not only are they able to use their charisma and emotional intelligence to captivate and charm, they’re able to ignite and convince their audience to take action through the use of their story. These are the people you love being around. They enthuse, entertain and inspire!

The practice of using stories to motivate is an extremely effective leadership tool and has been used throughout history. Think of some of the great biblical leaders and how they leveraged parables and narratives to inspire their audience. Look at how George Washington, Henry Ford and Martin Luther King and many other thought leaders incorporated stories into their speeches.

Stories in business

“Today, I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal, just three stories.” – Steve Jobs

The leaders that employees follow and admire most are those that tell meaningful stories rather than reciting boring and useless statistics. Consider the now famous speech that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford graduation. Within the first 30 seconds of his address, he says “Today, I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal, just three stories.” He immediately engaged his audience and then goes on to deliver one of the most inspiring commencement speeches in history through the effective use of his stories.

In Telling Tales, Stephen Denning writes, “Analysis might excite the mind, but it hardly offers a route to the heart. And the heart is where we must go if we want to not only motivate people to take action, but do so with energy and enthusiasm. Even the most logical arguments or well-crafted PowerPoint slide deck won’t do the trick. Story telling can translate those dry and abstract numbers into compelling pictures of leaders’ goals.”

The heart is where we must go in marketing! This is especially true in content marketing. However, the challenge of reaching the heart through text heavy content lies in the lack of emotional hooks a writer can place as they convey their message. Without being able to see, gauge and interpret the audience, only the most talented writers capture their reader’s attention. In addition, readers today are inundated with information and if an emotional hook isn’t set within the first few seconds, the reader is gone.

A better way to tell your story

This is where the data visualization can more effectively tell your story and “translate those dry and abstract numbers into compelling pictures.” With the right infographic, a writer is still able to tell their story, but the likelihood of setting an emotional hook and catering to the reader’s attention span increases significantly.

Imagine that it’s Monday morning and you’ve just jumped online to read about the release of Apple’s iPhone 5. As usual, you’re pressed for time and are looking for some quick content before you make your buying decision. You come across two “stories” that are essentially the same thing; a breakdown of what it will cost to own the new device. The only difference is one is an infographic and the other is an article. Which are you most likely to spend your time on?

If you’re like majority, you’ll favor the graphic over the written. The reasons:

  • You’re visual
  • You’re short on time
  • You’re accustomed to “dashboards” and want the story quick and concise

Avalaunch Media‘s Favorite Stories Using Infographics

Why Utah Has the Greatest Snow on Earth - SkiUtah.com The True Cost of an iPhone 5 - Mashable.com The Life of a Salvaged Tree From Forest to Tree - NationalGeographic.com History of Marketing Channels - AvalaunchMedia.com History of Mickey Mouse - Goin2Travel.com

“The Merger”

This is where the two worlds collide. You put the art in the story and your audience engages on two levels; with the story AND the visualization. For this reason, infographics have become a quintessential marketing tool that:

  • Increase brand awareness, authority, trust and credibility
  • Increase social proof and signals that are important for optimization
  • Build critical links from legitimate sites that boosts SEO
  • Generate new forms of traffic flow to your domain

An infographic that’s well designed and promoted through the right channels can tell a story in such a compelling way that it’ll inspire your audience to take action. Stories told visually should be considered a key component of any corporate communication and marketing strategy.

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About Jason Coulam

Jason Coulam is a partner and Chief Operating Officer of Avalaunch Media. Previously he grew a company from the initial start-up stage to a multi-million dollar organization which has been recognized as one of the top companies in Utah. Jason is also the recipient of Utah Business Magazine’s “Forty under 40” award.

Comments

  1. Very few can attain Jobs’ ability, but with a little practice I think most of us can attain a reasonable level of ability.
    Apple does do it well though, it seems that it took about 20 years for most other companies to figure that out and start trying to breath life into their releases.