I am a storyteller. I tell stories to connect with other people and create memorable interactions. It seems that most people like a good story, as proven by the wildly successful not-for-profit organization, The Moth, where people tell true stories to live audiences all around the country. I participate in these experiences in the Boston area, as a listener and as a performer.
So, why are so many brand stories so dry and uninteresting. How can we tell compelling stories, the kind that people gather around to hear? First, we need to understand what makes a good story. A good story connects us through our commonalities – of our humanness and all that entails. If you Google “elements of a good story”, you will find that dozens of sources claim there are somewhere between 3 and 10 elements to a good story. Memorable, impactful stories often have good guys, bad guys, disaster narrowly averted, surprises, even lives lost and saved. These elements boil down to:
1) An inciting action
4) An antagonist
5) A protagonist
While a B2C story is commonly considered easier to tell, I think the B2B story can be as easy if you can get the business lingo out of the way and share information person to person. Does corporate communications share stories about enterprise-wide, best-in-class peer-to-peer something or another, or does one of your top engineers (protagonist, real character) share how he has created software (resolution) that addresses a security threat (inciting action), created by old technology (antagonist) and will save IT managers headaches from system down time (conflict).
If you aren’t sure about your company story, it might be a good time to consider a retelling. Can you find these five elements in your story? Now, tell it in an honest, simple and meaningful way and see the moths gather to your flame.