Last week both my marketing and HR executive peer groups engaged with Catherine Captain and others from Cantadora around the power of storytelling. The topic made for great Fall kick-off sessions that definitely got us all engaged in thinking not only about our company stories, but our personal stories as well. Here are some nuggets the Cantadora folks shared around story-telling.
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is a master of storytelling whose passion is palpable as he shares where the inspiration comes from for his captivating work. “Oh great stories!” he exclaims, as his eyes light up with child-like wonder. “They’re everywhere!”
And he’s right.
So why is it that in Hollywood, politics, business, and in life, the best story wins, yet so often in business storytelling is regarded – as one businessperson once told us – as “squishy and artsy”? In fact, this assertion contradicts the story data tell. According to the highly “left-brain,” number-crunching, data-driven Gallup “State of the American Workplace Report,” stories are remembered 22 times more than facts alone. That’s because as humans, we’re wired for stories. All day long, we tell tales. And we’ve been craving them since the campfire.
- Great stories in business start with a JOURNALISTIC approach.
Think like a journalist and hunt down the story goods. Spin is out, story is in, and it’s a whole new day in the marketing communications world. Don’t believe us? Check out the enlightening documentary “The Naked Brand.”
- You must dig for your authentic story – that’s STORY GOLD.
Pixar executives talk about digging for stories like archeologists. In their highly creative process, as captured in the new book Creativity, Inc., they dig, and dig, and dig for that gold. And, after 14 box office hits in a row, they know a thing or two about story. Just ask a toy, some cars, and a fish.
- Your story IS BETTER than you think it is.
People and businesses tend to downplay their stories in favor of pie charts and stats. But people don’t fall in love with pie charts. They fall in love with people. At Cantadora, we often find ourselves stopping people in mid-sentence with a “Say what?!” as they weave a powerful tale of which they are completely unaware. Stop underestimating your beautifully human story power.
- There is MAGIC in “The Ramble.”
Great storytelling takes courage and we always start by telling people to let it rip. Ramble on. Your best story will surface. And you will be amazed.
- Writing “BIG” and editing “small” is the key to creating a beautiful tale.
Don’t edit yourself before you’ve even written a single word! Give yourself the creative freedom to go on and on and on. As design gurus Tom and David Kelley say in their inspirational book Creative Confidence “embrace the messy unknown.” Then edit, edit, edit – until your story sings.
Combine the above with a big dose of courage and you are on your way to storytelling greatness. Every person, every business, and every brand has great stories just waiting to be told. So what are you waiting for? Share your stories. They will transform your audiences. And they also will transform YOU.
Catharine Gately and Catherine Captain both work at Cantadora Communications, teach storytelling in business at the University of Washington’s Communication Leadership Master’s program, and love Sharpies of any size, shape and color.