Storytelling is not optional for communicating, it’s essential. It’s what grabs the reader, listener or viewer, what gives shape to the information they’re receiving. It’s what can move them to a new or different thinking pattern or action. This is true across time, across cultures, and across mediums.
As writer Frank Rose points out in Wired magazine, storytelling is fundamental to human existence.
“Stories are recognizable patterns, and in those patterns we find meaning,” he writes. “We use stories to make sense of our world and to share that understanding with others. They are the signal within the noise.”
Whether our audience hears “the signal within the noise” will depend on how well we’ve understood our audience and crafted our stories to suit them.
Travelling in Different Circles
We can hardly expect a three-year-old, for example, to comprehend a Condé Nast Traveler article about the benefits of travelling to San Francisco in spring.
We could expect them to understand some facts about they city when they read “This is San Francisco,” a classic children’s book full of pictures and light on text.
Pictures – moving and still – are, in fact, great storytelling aids for the digital age. They convey much more quickly a notion or an idea than a mass of words do, and the best can tell a story on their own. No words necessary.
Pictorial Present: The Emoji
An understanding of our audience is still crucial though. Take the emoji, a great tool for digital storytelling, but only if the recipient can understand and interpret it.
In 2015, Chevrolet issued a news release written entirely using emojis in an apparent bid to reach a younger demographic than the one typically associated with the traditional U.S. carmaker. Car and Driver writer Bob Sorokanich reported that the release was written entirely in “the inscrutable digital hieroglyphs central to preteen electronic communications.” He clearly he wasn’t in their target demographic.
Perhaps we’re not ready to go that far in our communications, but in a 2015 article, The Atlantic reported on a survey that showed more than 75 per cent of Americans had used an emoji in a work-related communication, a move that not long before would have been deemed inappropriate.
So it would seem that in the digital age there’s lots of room for growth in the way we communicate, as long as we remember that story will always need to be at the heart of our communications and that we need to tell our stories in a way that audience can hear – and it a way that allow them to respond.
What do you think? Are we ready to dispense with written words and return to the pictorials of the past?
*Here’s the translation. (See the full release here.)
DETROIT — In two days at the Fillmore Theatre at 7 p.m., a new Cruze will be born and you are going to love it.
The all-new 2016 Cruze blends innovative technology, striking design and impressive efficiency into one sporty ride. It’s the best new thing since sliced bread for stylish and socially connected people. A Chevrolet spokesperson said: “We had the idea that the new Cruze could change the world.”