You thought your cousin’s birthday party would be boring.
You thought the best part would be the hot dog.
But then some random girl (she’s your cousin’s boyfriend’s roommate?) starts talking about when she gave her sister a hamster as a Hannukah gift.
DAMN! That girl is hilarious. You’re crying ‘cuz that thing about the hamster is getting you good.
When someone tells a story that good, I feel like I could go climb an apple tree, sink my teeth into the fruit, and undo my ponytail and drop my hair down like Rapunzel. It makes me feel alive.
But I also feel jealous. DAMN, how did that gal tell such a good story?
There’s a lot of talk about storytelling in marketing right now.
“Tell a good story!,” barks an executive. “Just use some storytelling, journalism-type shit. Yeah, stories!” These guys love to pull out statistics. “Did you know a Stanford research study showed that statistics alone have a retention rate of 5-10%, but when coupled with anecdotes, the retention rate rises to 65-70%? “
BLAH, BLAH. But when someone tells a good story, whether it’s out loud or in writing, you pay attention. Stories help others relate to you, and they’re an excellent tool for getting a message across.
To tell a good story:
Stick to the point. A lot of times people go off on tangents, trying to recall what day of the week it was, or where they were when the story occurred. Get over the details. Stick to the main action of the story.
Ask yourself why. Before you begin recounting the story about the time you got high in Amsterdam, ask yourself why you’re sharing. What point are you trying to make? Is this the right audience? Are you just trying to make yourself look cool? Stories can be worthwhile just for the sake of it, but you still want to make sure your story fits the moment and the audience.
Be honest. When you’re telling a story, don’t try to be cool or make yourself look good. An honest recollection of what happened to you is always better than someone trying to show off.
Imitate your mother. Every time I do this people love my stories. There’s something about imitating someone with a big personality that everyone loves.
Refrain from shock value and mean-spirited stuff. I used to love to tell stories that shocked the audience, but it takes more skill to tell a story about something mundane, like a hardboiled egg. Also, don’t tell a story that is mean to someone else.
Watch the experts. I’ve learned a lot about how to tell a good story from professionals. My favorites are comedians Mike Birbiglia, Louie C.K., and Amy Schumer.
Keep it short. I have trouble with this one, but there’s nothing worse than a story that goes on and on. Look at your audience. Are they starting to drift off?
Get animated. Use sound effects. Change your voice. When I’m writing, I USE CAPITAL LETTERS and tons of !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and emojis :) :) :) to try to show how animated I am.
Know if people don’t like your stories. That means asking your significant other or best friend on the car ride home if people were actually listening and enjoying your takedown of Grandma Mildred.
Practice stories. Like anything else, practice makes perfect. It’s ok if you’re not the best storyteller now. Write stories, perform stories, record a video of you telling a story. Practice.
I challenge you, content creator, try to tell stories people actually wanna hear.
Happy writing & editing. Until next whackadoodle
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