Storytelling is not only limited to the entertainment industry. It makes up for a big part of business and marketing strategy, and rightfully so. It is one of the best ways to connect with customers and build a community. Storytelling allows you to create vivid imagery with simple words. And expresses ideas, experiences, and emotions through a narrative. Stories are used to invoke emotions and people are more likely to remember emotions than they are facts. And that is why you need to develop your storytelling skills so that you connect with your audiences.
What is storytelling?
You can define storytelling as the art of conveying a message through words or pictures to invoke certain emotions. Storytelling can be an immersive experience if you use your elements just right. A business can have an invested audience by using storytelling the same way a hero in a film has their audience invested in their story.
Why is it essential to employ storytelling?
Using storytelling in content writing, marketing and business is one of the best ways to connect and engage with your audiences without seeming too salesy. You can consider this as a community-building exercise rather than a sales tactic. Many brands have created meaningful relationships with their audience through storytelling. A few prime examples are Nike, Fenty, and Spotify.
Developing your storytelling skills is important to creating a fantastic story. And rest assured that you can develop your storytelling skills because they are just that — a skill that you can learn. While some people can inherently be creative, you can still learn it with dedication and commitment.
How can you develop your storytelling skills?
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s get into how you can develop your storytelling skills.
1. Listen and observe
You can quickly develop storytelling skills much in the same way one would learn a foreign language or art. People usually start reading or listening to a foreign language when the objective is to get fluent or proficient. Similarly, artists study and observe techniques and lighting before they try to replicate them. Thus, one of the best ways to learn storytelling is to observe it around you. In marketing copy, ads, novels, and communications. Plus, you should listen to songs, TED Talks, and podcasts as much as you can. Pay attention to structure, wording, transitions, and emphasis.
This is something that is called observation learning. You can usually see this behavior in children when they observe adults and imitate them. Likewise, you can easily adapt this method of learning when it comes to storytelling skills.
Because the more you can identify certain elements, the more chances are that you will be able to employ them in your work. Not only is this a great way to add certain elements to your work, but it can also serve as inspiration to create more. Additionally, it will become easier for you to identify where your content falls flat if you can identify the same in other people’s content.
2. Be your audience
“Walk a mile in someone’s shoes,” is a very popular saying. This means that you should put yourself in someone else’s position to understand them and their actions. You can understand their perceptions about a subject, not to mention the insight it gives you into their lives and problems.
In the same way, if you put yourself in your audience’s shoes, you will easily identify their characteristics and traits. And this will help you connect with them more authentically. It becomes far easier for you to create a community around your content. Plus, creating content that is aimed at a specific audience will help with engagement and reaching the right people.
It helps in identifying areas you can improve upon. Plus, if you are using this technique in storytelling, you want to focus on areas that might be hard to understand for your audiences. This is important when you are considering your target demographic. Be it for marketing or content writing, knowing your target demographic and understanding them is half the battle. The other half is to create content in such a way that it resonates with them.
3. Repetition and practice
Bruce Lee once said, “I fear not the man who had practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
And this is why practice is important when it comes to you developing a skill, and equally important when you want to develop your storytelling skills. You do not get good at something as soon as you learn it. Like tennis and baking, the more you do and the more you practice, the better you get. Developing a skill is a lifetime commitment. It is not a one-and-done deal. This is why being a learner is important. Because if you don’t want to learn, you will never get better at what you do.
Practice creating stories about anything and everything you come across: a person, an object, a business. In addition to this, you can try to use different elements and story types in different situations. Not only does this develop your storytelling skills, but it also gives you the ability to work with different styles and formats.
4. Conflict is the best part of storytelling
In truth, it is not the hero that drives the story or the plot. It is a conflict. Why? Because you could have the best hero of all time. But without conflict, what is the point of them? In storytelling, having a hero that has some form of limitation or flaws makes them more relatable. The more relatable your hero is, the more they will resonate with your audience.
It does not matter how “simple” your conflict is or how “complex”, the way you write/tell it will create the impact you want. Focus on how emotions to neat your audience feel instead of making the story perfect.
5. Write for a diverse audience
This plays into points 3 and 2 we made. Practice different styles and formats, and repeat it as much as you can across different subjects. Moreover, being able to understand different segments of demographics will allow you to create content for a diverse audience easily. It is important to develop your storytelling skills to fit different demographics so that you can reach different people with different stories.
But, more importantly, you should always remember that not everyone is going to like your storytelling skills or the way you go about it. The important part is that you reach your target audience, and the story resonates with them. So don’t spend forever on a story trying to make it perfect because your perfect might not be someone else’s perfect. Plus, you can’t make everyone happy.