What is Storytelling? The guide to telling great stories

7 minutes
Written by: Meri Millán
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Index

What is storytelling?

Storytelling is the art of telling a story. Chances are you already knew the meaning of this well-known term, but it’s important to know that this art is not something new.

We are made of stories, and that is what has caused us to narrate them for thousands of years. Storytelling is in literature, comics, and film, but also in the stories we tell other people daily. Have you ever wondered where the myths and legends we know come from? Or, have you asked why the myths and legends that we still tell today have stood the test of time? The way these stories have connected with people plays a big role in why. In fact, our brain receives different stimuli when it learns something through stories because stories connect with our emotional side.

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Why is it important to tell stories when we communicate?

Think about it, everyone has great stories to tell. However, you’re probably wondering why it’s important for your brand to use storytelling. We’ll give you some reasons:

  • Awaken emotions. Think for a moment about an ad you’ve recently seen and liked. It’s very likely that the brand was able to connect with you because it actually connected with your most primary emotions. It may have inspired you, impacted you, or made you laugh. A brand that manages to awaken emotions thanks to the power of storytelling is achieving a big communication goal: to be remembered.
  • Transmit the essence of the brand. When a brand tells a good story, what it is actually doing is connect with its audience through their core values. It’s important that the story we tell is consistent with the mission and vision of the company to help it position itself.
  • Inspire our audience. Remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream’ quote? These were the words he used more than 50 years ago in his renowned speech to talk about his desire for racial equality. Surely you also remember the wisdom Steve Jobs shared in his speech to Stanford University students, the acclaimed “Stay hungry, stay foolish” quote. These are two examples of how a powerful story can inspire an entire generation and can continue to be memorable over time.
  • Humanize to connect with our audience. Who is behind your audience? A group of people. And who is behind the brands that publish these messages? A team of people. In the end, storytelling connects people’s stories. When a brand tells a good story, it connects easily to its audience by showing transparency and authenticity. Sometimes, what we need to achieve this connection is to show that we are human in our communication.

3 ingredients of great stories

“What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? No, it’s stories. There is nothing more powerful in the world than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it.”

3 ingredients of great stories

Does this quote sound familiar to you? It probably does because it is Tyrion Lannister’s speech in the finale of the Game of Thrones series. These words remind us, both those who followed the series and those who did not, that we are all passionate about good stories and this series is certainly an example of this.

To tell a good story, we must start with these 3 ingredients: 

  1. The narrator, that is, the person or brand responsible for telling the story. You know that a message is unique and integral to your brand when you imagine it being shared by any other brand and it would not be consistent with their values. If your brand is ready to tell the world that story, go ahead.
  2. The audience. The people who listen to your story play a key role in storytelling, as they are not simply listeners of the story we tell, but also have the power to share and act as ambassadors for your message.
  3. The plot or narrative outline, which helps us all recognize and follow the story. There is a basic pattern in many of the stories in oral tradition around the world, a pattern which Joseph Campbell called the “monomyth” or “the hero’s journey.” This reveals that, in reality, all stories share a common pattern in their story that makes the protagonist or protagonists move from a zone of comfort or knowledge toward a zone of ignorance, an adventure, and the break of initial comfort. This tour is what Campbell called “the hero’s journey,” and it is the driving force of many of the great stories we know today.

How to master storytelling

How to master storytelling

  • Know your audience. You have a story to tell, but to who? It’s important that you know your target audience well to know what interests them, what inspires them, or even what concerns them. Truly knowing your audience will help your brand create a lasting connection.
  • Have a goal. Have you asked yourself why you want to tell this story? What do you expect to achieve through sharing it with your audience? Raise awareness, convey your values, mobilize… The answer to these questions will be the goal of your storytelling.
  • Define a main message. There are stories that last just a few seconds, and others that we would need a lifetime to tell. Whatever the length of the story your brand wants to tell, you should understand that you need to convey a main message. To find it, think about the phrase you would like your audience to remember. There you have it.
  • Choose a channel and format. A social media video, a blog post, an interactive presentation, a dossier, an ebook… There are as many possibilities as there are stories to tell. When you define what story you want to tell, you can choose the right channel to transmit it and give it the perfect format. Remember that creativity has no limits.
  • Share the story. All set? It’s time for your story to be shared with the world. The channel and format you’ve decided on will be essential to spread your brand’s storytelling.

Examples of storytelling we can learn from

You’re more beautiful than you think, Dove Real Beauty Sketches

If there’s one thing Dove achieves through its stories about real beauty, it’s communicating to everyone who uses its products, especially women, that they are more beautiful than they think. Through these stories, they show that our perception of ourselves is worse than how others perceive us. Are we too critical with our physical self-assessment? We’ll see in this story.

Peru country brand

Although it has been a few years since its launch, this story about a trip to Peru is always among the most remembered videos. Why is this? Besides making us want to visit the Andean country, this story leads us to reflect on the following: Peru is not only the perfect place to get lost, but also to find ourselves and get to know ourselves. This message is one we will never forget.

Ted Talks

Any one of these talks about technology, education, innovation, society, or science is a clear example of storytelling. As its slogan “Ideas worth spreading” says, people who narrate these interesting talks do so  because their ideas deserve to be shared.

One Story Away, Netflix

One story away is the first global campaign Netflix launched to strengthen its brand. The video, which is just over a minute long, shows us scenes from the different productions we can watch on the platform and sends us an essential message: Every story is a great journey. And during the course of that journey, Netflix accompanies us and shows us that we are a story away.

Tips for telling good stories

  • Don’t forget what makes you unique and try to tell it in your story.
  • Convey an idea, one that your target audience is going to remember for a while.
  • Don’t lose focus of your goal, what you want to achieve thanks to storytelling.

Genially and storytelling

Now that you know the keys to storytelling, we encourage you to put it into practice in your Genially creations to convey truly creative stories and get great engagement.

What do you need to communicate? Are you creating a presentation, dossier, or interactive infographic to do this? You can use Genially to create the content you need and tell your great stories through it, the stories that make your brand unique.

Meri Millán
Meri Millán
"La curiosidad sobre la vida sigue siendo el secreto de las personas creativas"
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