Stories are the building blocks of human communication. They are the most effective way to convey information. The most effective storytellers use their unique voices, an important part of who they are, to communicate both online and offline.
Start With a Story
Stories are at the core of communication. We tell stories to pass on information and make it interesting. We also tell stories to make sure that the audience understands the message we want to convey.
Best stories have a structure that makes it easier for people to follow them. They have a beginning or introduction that sets the scene for what the author is trying to do. The main message is conveyed in the body of the story. Finally, a good story has a conclusion that typically reveals what the story is about.
If you are pushing out content on social media, turn that content into stories that your audience will want to hear.
Every Story Is Unique
Even when several people tell the same story, the way they tell it will differ. This is because we all have unique voices. The most effective communicators build on their distinctive voices in telling stories.
Your communication style is the ultimate expression of your unique voice. The way you tell stories will vary depending on the context, from very casual to very formal. Yet people will still be able to recognize your voice behind the story if you follow your communication style consistently.
Tell Your Story
Do you ever think of what you post on social media as stories? What is the greatest story you ever told on social media? I will be happy to hear from you in the comments below.
I’ve learned a lot in this course about story-telling; in fact everything from the Inverted Triangle Approach to researching target audiences has taught me something about writing online. But the most interesting lesson has been discovering that story-telling does have a place when creating good digital content; if used effectively and concisely.
To do this means not starting from the beginning and working to the end leaving the most important message for last, expecting your audience to hold their interest up to that point but taking into consideration that they will have limit attention spans so say what you want first and foremost weaving your message into a story-telling approach.
You may be asking “Why” this is important?
Well with everything you must consider your target audience. In fact taking them into consideration first can help you as the writer determine the best way to tell your story so that it is well received. After all, these are the people we write for and so in order to capture their interest it makes perfect sense to appeal to them.
Twitter screenshot, where I’m working to tuning into what’s being said and find what’s most relevant!
Learning this it has helped me evaluate my own writing and zero in on my own approach to blogging. I’ve started thinking about what I really want them to know and how best to communicate that so the message reaches them clearly. Through using social media I am also listening in to help me select blog topics more carefully. Considering not just what interests me but tuning into what my audience is talking about and getting ideas from there has helped guide my writing and given me some good insight into what’s most relevant and therefore could be most helpful to them.
Which overall this course has made me a better blogger and careful listener.
The most important part of communication and storytelling is listening. That may seem like an odd concept for some but you need to be able to listen to what your audience needs before you are able to communicate with them. It is important to know if your audience would prefer to watch a video on the topic, or read an article about it. Everyone communicates differently and the audience will be more engaged with your story if they are engaged with the way the story is being told.
In order for a story to be powerful, it needs to be communicated effectively. A great story needs to encourage the audience to interact with the content, especially if there is a lesson to be learned or a takeaway to be had. The story also needs to be clear and concise to get the point across with some detail, but avoiding going into too much detail that you will loose your audience.
I also think a really important aspect of communication and storytelling is to inspire your audience to action. Whether this action be posed in the form of a question to debate on a topic, or encourages them to participate in the conversation, it is always good to engage your audience this way.
What communication styles are important to you? How do you engage your audience through storytelling?
This course has re-inforced concepts that I use in my professional life as a journalist. Journalists are tought the importance of listening and asking questions. Through training, emphasis is placed on telling a good story that is interesting, concise and that re-inforces the story itself in its conclusion. Journalists are taught the importance of ‘humanizing’ a story through real people, real circumstances as a way to connect the story to a larger audience.
The media business, like other businesses, is very competitive. Ratings are noted, often on a daily basis, newspaper and magazines, live and die by their subscription rates, and editors are constantly using these statistics to determine what stories sell or resonate with audiences. The audience is defined by those who are paying for or tuning into the story, the radio/television channel.
The tools of this business are determined by the medium itself, and the social media component is added depending on staffing and what the media organization determines is essential for their overall business plan.
One area of study in this course I found particularly interesting was lesson five, developing effective personal, corporate brand messaging. I think this is the hardest concept and most difficult lesson to learn. It means a lot of research and understanding of the product and using that information to put forth a good message with personality to attract an audience. I think it is a message that many people struggle to find.
In terms of what kind of stories I want to tell, the story for me are personal stories. The stories of people who have overcome obstacles and personal struggles and have managed to pull themselves together and survive. These are the stories we all can relate to, the human struggle and the fight for survival. For those willing to share their story, so I can make it personal, is what attracted me to this business many years ago.