How To Tell A Story

Posted 20 September By Hanju LeeCopywriting, StorytellingNo Comments

How To Tell A Story

We are all daydreamers, but for me, it was more like an extreme disorder. I absolutely could not pay attention in class. When a lecture started, I opened my notebook, held my sharpened pencil…and doodled. A few minutes in, I had no idea what the professor was talking about. I was deep in my daydream world. I’d get lost in thought wondering what my life would look like after college, who I would marry, what my kids would look like, who they would become. I daydreamed about my weekend plans, the football game, cleaning my room, food…oh the food I would eat…and lots of it.

Suddenly, my daydreaming came to a screeching halt and I began to focus. I started to sit up straighter on my chair, my eyes alert and watching every move. I smiled, I frowned, I even laughed out loud. I heard every word, and I didn’t even have to write it down…cause I knew I wouldn’t forget.

You might be wondering what happened? What woke me up from the unconsciousness of daydream into a deep focus during the lecture?

The professor told a story.

Studies show that the average human spends 30% of their time daydreaming. During a boring lecture? I’d say it’s 70% for me. However, when I sit and watch a movie with an engaging storyline, I spend 0% daydreaming, with 100% focus on what’s happening on the screen. Sometimes, for 2 hours straight.

Storytelling is powerful. It captures the soul. It can move your emotions from rage to joy, it can make you sob, it can make you laugh. In the world of marketing, it’s the most important tool you can use to introduce your product, your culture, and even your brand. If done right, it will leave a lasting impression on someone (your potential client) and they will never forget you and what you stand for.

So, how do you tell a story right? There are many ways. There are formulas and patterns that Hollywood follows, and ingredients of a story that make people want to keep reading or watching. Here’s a simplified version of that formula – try writing a story that answers these questions:

  • Who’s the main character in the story?
  • What’s the character’s problem?
  • What/Who’s the guide that the character meets?
  • How does this guide help the character?
  • What’s the plan?
  • How did he execute this plan?
  • Did he win?

Now, let’s have some fun with the “formula” in light of the story I told above to see how it all fits.

  • Who’s the main character in the story? It’s me. The student. Young and dumb.
  • What’s the character’s problem? I think I have a major disorder. I’ve never done well in school because I think I can’t focus. 
  • What/Who’s the guide that the character meets? I met a professor. 
  • How does this guide help the character? The professor told a story during the lecture. I became engaged and I started to focus and realized that maybe it wasn’t me and my disorder, it’s just how humans are – we daydream and the professor telling a story awakened me from my daydream.
  • What’s the plan? In order to be interesting, engaging, and memorable, I need to be a good storyteller. Especially to help my business grow.
  • How did the character execute this plan? I learned the formula and made sure that the story had all the right ingredients.
  • Did he win? Yes, everyone read this email and realized how important stories are in marketing their own products and/or companies.

And the most important final question. How did the character transform? 

Well, I transformed from a typical, unmemorable communicator to a more engaging and interesting storyteller as I try to always think outside the box and find a story to tell vs just explaining a solution. 

If you ended up lost in a daydream at some point during this email, I’ve got a story for you! It’s about a business leader who learned to connect with customers through stories, and they all lived happily ever after. 

Hope this becomes the story of your life!

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