One of the best ways to get your message across is with stories. Facts and data can be persuasive but many people prefer a story. So how can you craft a good story? Here are some hints which work in most situations including social, political or business settings.
- Don’t tell theoretical stories. Talk about real people and what happened to them.
- Set the scene. Describe the situation – which will often involve some kind of problem or challenge.
- Use some dialogue to personalise the story and draw out the intensity and seriousness of the situation.
- Explain how the issue was resolved. What action was taken and what was the result?
- Draw out an insight or conclusion. Don’t assume that your listener or reader can deduce the lesson – spell it out for them.
- Involve your audience in the story with an appeal to their feelings – such as pride, fear, anger, sadness or guilt.
- Include a call to action. What do you want the audience to do as a result of the story?
- Most stories follow one of five plot types – a) the hero’s journey b) love story c) coming of age d) stranger in a strange land e) revenge. Follow the structure and people will instinctively know where it leads.
- A personal story (about ME) is good but a story in which the audience can picture themselves (about YOU) is better. Best of all is a story about US – e.g. working together to to overcome a challenge.
- Try taking a customer case study and turning it into a story.
Practise your story and tell it with feeling and conviction. People are more likely to remember a story than a set of facts and figures. And they are much more likely to be persuaded to your cause.