COM00014-Blog 2 — Storytelling lessons: Think about these Three Things First

A stack of books propped up against a laptop
There are many different ways to tell a story.
© Stock

The approach to writing strong online content is based on storytelling, but it’s important to understand that not all stories are built the same. As an avid reader of fiction, I appreciate the impact and resonance of stories. Humans are natural storytellers and respond positively to messages presented this way. However, I can’t help but contrast digital communication with creative fiction, if only to help myself gain a better understanding of the subtle differences between these types. Three characteristics that distinguish the types of storytelling include:

  1. The reader
  2. The story structure, and
  3. The value of brevity in the writing. 
A group of people reading. Some are reading on tablets, devices, laptops and others are reading on books.
How is your reader accessing your story?
© Prostock-studio/Adobe Stock

The reader

Readers accessing online content have a myriad of choices. Many are driven by an objective and arrived to a site through a search engine. The competition with other similar options is strong and if the reader doesn’t get the point of the story, they’ll quickly bounce to another page. In contrast, readers settling down to creative fiction are seeking entertainment and are prepared to spend 300 pages or more with the same story.

The story’s structure

Online articles and blogs begin with the most important concept to grab their audience’s attention. This structure is often referred to as the inverted pyramid (check out this great explanation of the inverted pyramid from MindTools). The key message or point of the story is stated at the beginning. Subsequent paragraphs drill down into the details. Appeal to readers’ tendency to skim! On the other hand, a novel has the luxury of a captive audience. This provides the opportunity to build a narrative and reveal clues slowly and strategically to move a story forward until the big reveal at the very end. Would the murder mystery genre be as popular if the killer was revealed in the first paragraph?


Visitors to a blog or website are looking for information quickly. Too many details increase the risk of losing the audience’s attention. In contrast, novels use long, detailed descriptions to transport a reader into the story’s universe. Great pains are taken to describe minute details of a crime scene, or the lush background of a clandestine rendezvous. Plots are developed slowly and strategically over hundreds of pages.

In summary…

It’s essential to know what kind of story you want to tell. The skills of a great novelist don’t automatically translate to the online environment. To communicate effectively, consider the type of reader targeted, structure the story accordingly and use detail strategically. What kind of content will you be creating?

COM0014- Blog #2: Storytelling and Communication Styles

How to Tell a Good Story

When telling a story, you want to collect all the details you intend to include before writing it. Nothing is worse than telling a story or hearing a story where you constantly have to backtrack because you forgot a part and now everyone is confused about what is happening. When telling a story, you must immediately grab the reader’s attention. If you were to click on a blog and it is long and wordy, the interest of the viewer could be gone, by adding headings, bullet points and leading with the most critical information, the reader is able to skim the text and get a quick idea on what the main subject matter of the blog is.

To create a beginning, middle, and end for a blog, I like to use the information we were taught as a kid when creating speeches. In your opening statement, you need to hook your audience while also talking about all the points you are going to touch on.

  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you told them.
Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels

Important Communication Styles to Use

Storytelling is an excellent way to approach any content you are creating, you want to grab the reader’s attention whether it is a blog or trying to market a product, because you want to engage with the reader. Viewers are more likely to continue reading if the storytelling and communication styles are done properly and they can fully visualize what they are reading and feel connected to what they are reading. While most people automatically use a passive voice when writing a blog or making a post but it is equally essential to use an active voice to be more clear, understanding, and interesting to your audience.

Do you find it difficult to switch from using a passive to an active voice when writing?

COM0014 – Blog 1: Vacances en famille

COM0014 – Blog 1: Vacances en famille

View of the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Quebec
Busy boardwalk in Quebec City

Last summer, to provide a fun and educational experience for my son, we planned a trip to Quebec City. He’s been in French Immersion since kindergarten, but never speaks French in front of us. My husband and I have been practicing French using the Duolingo app to support him, but it’s all in vain. Like many kids, he doesn’t see the value of a second language or have any interest in Canada’s francophone history. So, we hoped this trip might spark an interest. On y va!

The drive from our home in Windsor, Ontario to Quebec City, Quebec is about 11 hours, so we made a stop in the city of Montreal. We stayed at the very urban Hotel Bonaventure downtown. Did you know that Montreal is known as a hot spot for UFO sitings? Neither did we! However, our views were only terrestrial.

View of the ferris wheel, circus tent, and boats at the old port of Montreal, Quebec.
The port of Montreal

We enjoyed the charm of Montreal, especially the old port. We meandered along cobblestone streets and took in the view from a ferris wheel. Sadly, we didn’t practice our conversational French as much as I had hoped, since our time there was so short. We hope to return. À la prochaine!

The next day, we drove two hours to Quebec City. We stayed at a hotel that was walking distance from the famous fortified Old Town. Quebec City definitely felt more French than Montreal but locals are familiar with tourists and generally engage in English. My husband was the most fearless of us and spoke French regularly to order meals or ask questions. I’d try very simple words and phrases when I felt brave: oui, non, peut-être, et désolée! Our son, who I suspect knows the most French, stubbornly refused to speak! C’est dommage! However, we all really enjoyed the history and culture of Quebec City. Buskers performed in front of the Chateau Frontenac that provided a dramatic background to the outdoor shows (Quebec City is home to the Quebec Circus Arts School, so these buskers were truly amazing). Merveillieux

A busker does a handstand on two posts, balanced by four men in front of the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Quebec.
A busker performs daring acrobatics in front of the Chateau Frontenac

We wandered through old town. Beware! The old city is built on a hill so your legs will get a workout! By the end of the day, we took a funicular (a car that runs up and down steep slopes along a cable railway system) built in 1879. We also visited the Citadelle of Quebec on the Plains of Abraham, where a historic battle between the English and French took place 1759. The vistas of the river and wide expanses of green fields bordered by the citadel walls transported us back to another time as we imagined we were soldiers looking out for ships on the river.

The green grass of the Plains of Abraham, with the St. Lawrence River in the background and Chateau Frontenac on the top left.
The St. Lawrence River as seen from the Plains of Abraham

On the last day of our trip, I stopped at a depanneur to pick up bandages for the blisters on my feet. When I got to the cash register, the clerk greeted me in French, and I responded with a cheery “Salut!”. The whole transaction happened en français, and maybe I’m just imagining it, but I think she thought I was a local! Or not… but I was proud of myself! So, did my son speak French at all on the trip? No. BUT, we had a great time exploring Quebec as a family!

COM0014- Blog #1: My first Toronto Maple Leaf game

As a Canadian, hockey is a big sport and is watched and played daily whether it is freezing cold outside or sweltering hot. Growing up my family watched every Leaf’s game, but I never had any interest until I met my boyfriend. I could not tell you what changed, maybe because he took the time to explain the rules and answered my hundreds of questions, but I now find myself putting the game on even when I am alone. His love for hockey grew on me, and our next goal was to see an actual game together.

One thing about us, is we do not plan very far ahead of time, we bought the tickets 6 days before the game and decided to make a road trip out of it and watch them in Ottawa instead of Toronto. The day we bought the tickets we realized we would not have actual seats, the 360-degree view showed some, but our description said standing. We quickly panicked trying to swap seats before they were bought…it took 4 attempts at different seats, but we finally had the relief that after our 4-hour drive, we would not have to stand for a 3-hour game. In these 6 days before the game, my boyfriend was also offered a new job he took and would be starting the Monday after we returned from our trip. Safe to say if he got this news any sooner, we would not have gone on this trip at all, I like to think everything happens for a reason.

Now that everything was back on track it was finally time for us to start our journey. It felt like those 4 hours flew by and the next thing I knew we were passing the Canadian Tire Centre on the highway. It was huge, I could not believe that in a couple of hours that place was going to be packed and we were going to be there. In the meantime, we found our hotel, got ready and left early to look around Ottawa a little bit before the game. We were both shocked when we saw the biggest Canadian Tire we have ever seen, it was two stories and had all the outdoor and indoor merchandise you could need. We finally made it back to the Canadian Tire Centre, we were walking in and noticed most of the fans there were also there to watch the Leaf’s, the crowd made it look like it was a home game. My biggest fear about spending the money to go to a Leaf’s game, especially one further away is them losing but luckily for us, they beat the Ottawa Senators 3-0, unlucky for me Ryan Reynolds was not at that game.

I would love to know if anyone else has gone to a hockey game for your favourite team and what your experience was like. I personally get so much anxiety going to big events like this, everyone pushes their way through, and I easily get lost, but at the same time the whole experience feels like a dream and I want to soak up every minute of it because it goes by so fast. I love documenting my travels and taking pictures of anything I want to remember or show people. The three photos below are just a few of the pictures I took on this vacation, social media allows me to share my experiences with everyone and will always be there for me to look back on and read about how I felt in those moments.

COM0014 – Blog #7 Personal Reflection

This course has taught me a different way to story-tell than how I normally go about it, i.e., scriptwriting. This course showed me how to properly tell a story for social media content. I always thrived on authentic social media content, and this gave me the opportunity to practice my own personal storytelling and find my voice through the last six blogs.

This course really helped me breakdown strategies for different target audiences and analyze different communication styles. We saw what could go wrong and how to handle criticism when posting on a public platform.

Storytelling has been around for as long as we can remember and it’s a personal way to connect with your audience. I’ve watched long TikTok videos just because of the way the creator was telling their story. I was mesmerized. I wanted to know more! I had to hear the end of their story. This creator connected with her audience and kept them engaged for a long video based on how they presented the story.

I want to be able to create engaging content that is authentic and truthful to who I am. As someone in the film industry, as an actor, it’s a lot easier to pretend to be someone else than yourself because sometimes we fear what people might think. Being able to write authentically during this course has really helped me with that fear and helped me discover my voice.

COM0014 – Blog #7: Personal Reflection

During the last seven weeks of this course, we read a lot about communicating by the means of social media, but we also learned about the great importance of storytelling. In this post, I look back at some of the most important things I’ve gathered from this course and also share an interesting tip that might be helpful to you.

Photo credit: Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

Why is Storytelling so Important?

Everybody loves a story. We have been told stories ever since we were little kids and we still enjoy them today. Storytelling in the world of social media marketing gives personality to a brand or individual. A generic/corporate post telling a targeted audience to buy a certain product doesn’t work so well anymore, but add a story to that same product’s ad campaign and it’s bound to reach and connect with people. As humans, I think we bond with what we feel is “human”. Therefore, stories that show that human personality in a brand create a feeling or emotion within the consumer and might lead them to grow attached faster.

How Will it Affect my Content?

For me personally, I always applied storytelling to my own content because of the way that my personal brand works as a self-employed musician. I’m an individual to begin with so I share some of my stories with people and those posts always perform better than any regular promotion post that I made. But if I were to work for a big organization, I’d make sure that I find ways to tell stories according to our target audience. After all, you can’t just tell any story to anybody. You have to know who the main audience is.

Interesting Tip

I remember hearing this mentioned in another college course that I took on social media marketing, that only 20% of the content we post should be related to a product specifically while the other 80% should focus on people and storytelling. Take a look at Nike’s Instagram as an example. Look at how many posts there are featuring people and stories in comparison to posts specifically about products. This makes the brand feel very human and less corporate as a result. I thought it would be interesting to share with people on here as well.

What Stories to Tell?

I think that it’s important to tell stories that reflect your personal brand or the organization that you might work for. I also think that the stories that we tell should feel authentic as I don’t think that a story that feels forced will reach as many people. No matter who you are, if you have a good story to tell, I think at least some amount of people will connect with you.

COM0014 – Blog #6: Maissa Houri’s Personal Story

Photo credit: Ming Wu at the International Film Festival of Ottawa

Growing up in an immigrant household, you’re always told to follow the dreams that your parents have laid out for you. That normally means you get a degree in medicine or in law. Being an actor? That felt out of reach for me. But I did what I could to participate in anything acting related. I was in all the school plays and talent shows. Ever since I was a kid, I was determined to show my parents that I could make acting a career.

Me (in the red dress) and my siblings in the 90’s

Life ebbs and flows and since acting is one of the hardest careers you can ever get into, I had to find work to lean on to pay my bills until I could book gigs. I got a government job that turned into a career, but I refused to give up on my dreams. I found a great agent, I involved myself in the film community and also started to create my own work since I wasn’t booking. I was tired of waiting around for someone to hire me. I was still working full time in the government, but I used every spare moment I had to hustle and build my dream life. There are days, almost 10 years actively in the industry, where I feel so stagnant, that I haven’t done anything significant, but I look back at all my work and I have made so much progress.

Photo credit: Ramy Raphaël for Dirty Love web series

Growing up there were no stories in Hollywood about Arab families and if there were any, it was a negative stereotype. This fueled my fire even more. I wanted to show the world our humanity. I create stories from a first generation Arab-Canadian and that really helped my independent film career. Someone believed in my story and because of that, I am working on a TV pilot for a broadcaster! And after joining the board of a filmmakers’ festival, I’m able to help other emerging filmmakers tell their stories. You just need one person to believe in you and I want to be that person for others who fought for their dream.

Did you follow your dream?

Photo credit: Robert de Wit

COM0014 – Blog #5 – Personal Brand – Maissa Houri: Actor. Filmmaker. Community Builder.

Photo credit: Robert de Wit

My name is Maissa and I’m an actor, filmmaker and a lot of people call me a community builder. The entertainment industry is a very hard one to navigate and I learned that the hard way. I’m still learning ten years actively in it. I was waiting for doors to open for me, but they weren’t opening. So, I decided that I would start building my own door and building the table where I wanted to be. That’s when I started to make films. I definitely didn’t have the money, nor did I know where to get it, so I enlisted others who were also waiting for their doors to open and invited them to get in through mine. I would write and direct and I found crew members and actors wanting to create with me. I, then, joined the board of the Digi60 Filmmakers’ Festival in 2020 which gave me a position that wouldn’t only help my career but the career of others. I would be able to bring in opportunities for emerging filmmakers that they would struggle to find anywhere else.

created via Canva

What makes me stand out over other actors and filmmakers regarding my online presence is that I’m not only showing my audience images or videos of me working on set or doing auditions but I’m showing them the struggles; I’m giving out advice and tips. I’m showing them where they can find opportunities and I’m also giving them a platform to showcase themselves.

I created an Instagram live series on my personal account called Moms After Dark where I would interview mothers in creative fields. I called it Moms After Dark because we do everything after our kids’ bedtime. This gave creative mothers a chance to talk about themselves, the work that they do, how they got there and the sacrifices they have made.

created via Canva

The entertainment industry is so hard. It’s full of unknowns and rejections. I want to be there to build up the community, to give opportunities and to help people with their acting and filmmaking dreams and in turn that is helping me with mine.

COM0014 – Blog #6: Do People Know Your Story?

In an article titled “How to Find Your Story“, John Jantsch mentions the importance of storytelling in businesses stating that it’s “essential for forging relationships with your audience”. In today’s blog post, I answer the following question: “Why did I start my business?” I have a different story than most so I think it’ll be a fun read for you.

Photo credit: Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Why Did I Start My Business?

I make music for a living. More precisely, I take video game songs and re-arrange/re-record them from the ground up in a new genre or style. I turn the project into a music video and I share it on the internet. I also compose music and do commission work but, mainly, I do video game music covers.

Now let’s answer the question, shall we?

To be completely honest, I started my business by accident. What do I mean by that? I mean that I never started doing what I do with the intention of turning it into a profitable business. I started playing guitar in 2010, I was highly into Rock/Metal bands such as Metallica, Guns ‘n’ Roses, and Bon Jovi, but I was also a massive fan of video games and their music. One day, on YouTube, I stumbled across a channel named “CSGuitar89” who was playing video game music on electric guitar. This was brand new to me and it blew my mind. He had drums playing in the background and everything making it sound like a full band but I couldn’t understand who played them. Eventually, he released a tutorial showing his process of creating/recording video game arrangements, programming drums, recording guitars, and mixing audio.

In 2012, I decided to attempt making a video game arrangement of my own and shared it on YouTube. I did this as a fun little hobby throughout my high school years and I eventually noticed the channel gaining more and more popularity.

With time and experience, I was able to create arrangements that sounded different from everybody else’s and managed to develop my own unique sound that can only be found in my music. This has been a huge step for me as it allowed me to differentiate myself from other artists doing similar things and build an audience that would come back for my own style.


I guess sometimes the best way to start a business is to not even try to start one in the first place. Sharing your favourite hobby with the world and becoming very good at what you do just might turn itself into a business of its own if enough people are drawn to you. If you truly are passionate about what you do, others will notice it and new opportunities will surely reveal themselves in due time.

While I may have started my business out of pure chance, I think in the beginning I truly started it out of my love and passion for music and video games, as well as to entertain people. I always loved making someone’s day better through music and that’s what my business now allows me to do.

COM0014 – Blog # 5: Personal Brand

In 2023, our personal brand is more important than ever. Social media usage is at an all time high and we are exposing ourselves to a lot more people everyday than, let’s say, our ancestors ever were. The image that we project online can strongly influence the perception of others towards us and a bad social media post can cost us a lot more than we think.

Today, I’d like to reflect on what I think my personal brand is and how I project it among others.

Photo credit: Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

My Personal Brand

In my case, my personal brand or my online persona are one and the same and I need to take good care of its image. Being a freelance musician, it’s very important to me that I act professional enough. This means that I don’t use my social media channels to share memes and inappropriate jokes that I see many people sharing on the internet. Most importantly, I absolutely value for my online presence to be authentic. The person that you see through my tweets has to be the same person that I am in my personal life.

That being said, I think that the best assets of my personal brand is that, for one, I’m not trying to be somebody else. Secondly, I’m a very humble person and I don’t let things get to my head. And finally, people usually refer to me as being enthusiastic. I like to promote positivity a lot, especially on social media and I think people enjoy that about me.

What I think sets me apart from others in my field can especially be seen or heard in the content that I make and share. Most musicians I know can only play one instrument and it often becomes overused in the arrangements that they make. I make it my mission to keep learning to play as many instruments as I can to be able to incorporate more of them in my own music leading to more innovative sounds.

If we stay solely on the social media presence side of things though… People would probably agree that I have a way of making others interested or excited about the things I like and share online.

In Conclusion…

They say that it takes a lot of work to build a good reputation and that it takes almost nothing to ruin it. I firmly believe this and that’s why I like to take good care of my personal brand and I think twice before posting things online.

I believe that being authentic is one of the best traits somebody can have and that’s what I’m always trying to evoke through my personal brand. While online negativity might take people’s attention for a bit, positivity will always draw people who will stay in your circle for a longer period of time.

That’s what I think anyway.