Article | 17 Jul 2015

5 Top tips on how to tell a great story

Posted in PR and Communications, Top tips, Tools & Advice, Motivation & inspiration, Learning,

Recently I attended a workshop run by Rob Grundel at Google Campus on how to tell a great story. It was entertaining and useful, and it helped me write my stories about The Work Crowd.

I want to share some of the top tips I learned and hopefully help you get started writing your own stories…

First, think about why you are telling the story

Is it to educate or entertain, or something else completely? Thinking about your goals when telling your story will help you keep it interesting and to the point. You can use stories to build empathy or to share your values. Always bare your reasons in mind and they will shine through. For Startups in particular stories can be a powerful way to get people to believe in you. Whether they are potential investors or hires, or current employees, sharing your story can say a lot about your values and why they should trust you.

What are your values?

Your values should be present in the stories you tell, so you must realise what they are. What is important to you? What culture do you want at your company? If it is honesty and integrity, tell a story about when you told the truth to help someone – especially if it wasn’t easy but led to a business success. If it is innovation and competiveness, tell a story about when you won a competition or an award by doing something different.

Remember that often the best people to tell stories about you are your customers. Do they have good stories about you that show your values? Use them if you can. If you have helped them they will be more than willing to tell the story of how you helped them – in fact, they probably already are!

Who is your audience?

Who are you trying to reach at that particular moment? Is it a customer or an investor? Your stories will most likely vary depending on who you are telling them to at any particular time. Always think about what they want to hear, what they care about. What are their problems? What is their story? It really helps to find out more about your audience first and then you can use that information to work out how you can help them. Show them what you can offer and why it will make a difference in their life.

How to find a ‘good’ story

Good stories are usually very relatable and they have a ‘gleaming detail’ in them that sticks in people’s minds. If you think about stories that you have heard, liked, remembered and retold they probably included vivid details that you couldn’t forget which made it easy to tell other people. Often when you are telling a story you are vulnerable, especially if you are telling a personal story. This helps people connect with you and makes them think that you are brave. Do not be afraid to be emotional and focus on the drama – this is what makes stories interesting and exciting!

Tips for sharing your story

Create space – physically in terms of where you are standing, especially if you are on a stage, move around, but also verbally in between your sentences and your main points. Use space and time to allow people to process what you have said. It also often makes you look more confident. Breathe in the thought of what you are going to say and then breathe out the sentence. This is powerful as it makes it look like you are really thinking about what you are about to say.

You don’t necessarily need to start the story right at the beginning but always be aware of the context of your stories. Often starting in the middle of a story and then filling in the context later makes it more dramatic. Try and connect yourself to the story – it makes it more interesting and allows people to in turn connect with you more easily.

Leave your audience wanting to hear more and use call to actions or hooks to get them to ask questions or take action after they have heard your story.

Please share your own stories with me.