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Lessons in storytelling

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2841924811_17f22d601dA few weeks ago, I had the privilege to sit down with a veteran Twin Cities journalist and hear him talk about storytelling techniques. With all the new shiny new tools we all play with each day, it was refreshing to sit down with someone and talk about one skill that will always have a place in the toolkit.

The tips and techniques this journalist relayed are relevant to our work to all the disciplines that continue to blur including PR, corporate communications, social media and marketing. In short, storytelling continues to be a key part of our jobs as we help the companies we represent tell their story to employees, customers and other key stakeholders in an effort to shape perceptions, attitudes and behaviors.

Here are a few tips (admittedly pretty basic, but good reminders) you can use TODAY to help tell your story more effectively:

* How would Steven Spielberg shoot this? Thinking like a director helps you wrap your head around how the audience sees and views your story. What camera angle do you take? What does the scene look like? Describe it in detail. What impactful visuals can help you tell your story? By taking your audience’s perspective, you will be able to tell a much more powerful story.

* Identify the “Wow Factor.” Have you ever been listening to your friend tell a story when suddenly…BAM! You stop in your tracks. Your ears perk up. “Wait, what did you just say?” That’s the wow factor. That nugget in the story that stops you. That’s what you need to find and share. That’s the kernel of information that people will remember about your brands or organization. And that’s what they’ll pass along to others, too.

* Peddle emotion. Think about a newscast for a moment. It’s full of powerful images. War-torn images from the middle east. Video of sports figures making a winning shot with no time on the clock. And images of families standing outside their ravaged homes after a tornado has destroyed everything they have. That’s peddling emotion. And if you can connect with your customers emotionally, you got ’em. Think about the Cirque du Soleil brand. If you’ve been to a show, you know it runs the gamut of emotions. Surprise. Awe. Laughter. Even a tinge of sadness. The Cirque folks aren’t dummies. They know how to connect with an audience. And they know it will keep that audience coming back for more. Time and time again.

These are just a few of the storytelling lessons this journalist shared. What about you? What approaches do you use when telling a story? 

Note: Photo credit of isayx3 and FlickR Creative Commons

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Lessons in storytelling

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