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How to Tell a Great Story

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https://hbr.org/2014/07/how-to-tell-a-great-story#

hbr.org

How to Tell a Great Story
We tell stories to our coworkers and peers all the time - to persuade someone to support our project, to explain to an employee how he might improve, or to inspire a team that is facing challenges. It's an essential skill, but what makes a compelling story in a business context?

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Stories create “sticky” memories

...by attaching emotions to things that happen. That means those who can create and share good stories have a powerful advantage over others.

Facts and figures and all the rational thi...

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Start with a message

First, settle on your ultimate message; then you can figure out the best way to illustrate it.

Every storytelling exercise should begin by asking: Who is my audience and what is the mess...

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Use personal experiences

The best storytellers look to their own memories and life experiences for ways to illustrate their message. 

Think of a moment in which your own failures led to success in your care...

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Don’t make yourself the hero

You can be a central figure, but the ultimate focus should be on people you know, lessons you’ve learned, or events you’ve witnessed.

The more you celebrate your own decisions, the le...

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Highlight a struggle

Good storytellers understand that a story needs conflict. A story without a challenge simply isn’t very interesting.

Don’t be afraid to suggest the road ahead will be difficult.&n...

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Keep it simple

Not every story you tell has to be a surprising, edge-of-your-seat epic. Some of the most successful and memorable stories are relatively simple and straightforward. 

Don’t let needless ...

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Dos and Don'ts in storytelling

Do:

  • Consider your audience: choose a framework and details that will best resonate with your listeners.
  • Identify the moral or message you want to impart...

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Closing A Hiring Pitch

Bring the hiring pitch home with personal stories that show how people authentically live out your company’s mission. Pixar’s films often start from a real, personal story.

Your company’s big-picture mission might be inspiring, but it’s not necessarily personal. You can make it more personal by peppering your pitches with personal anecdotes about ways that you’ve changed.

Feeding Interest With The Promise Of Change

After you’ve hooked your audience/candidate, you need to catch their attention and get the story moving by animating it with change and transformation. In Pixar’s movies, that change isn’t just about reversals of fortune—they’re about personal transformation.

Great stories promise to change the life of the protagonist who we imagine ourselves to be, if not our own. In light of that, recruiters should focus on how candidates’ lives will change—not just their day-to-day tasks, but also how the new role will change the way they feel. 

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Our brain on stories

A story can put your whole brain to work.

When we are being told a story, not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we wou...

We are wired for storytelling

A story, if broken down into the simplest form, is a connection of cause and effect. And that is exactly how we think. We think in narratives all day long.

Giving suggestions

Exchange giving suggestions for telling stories.

A story is the only way to activate parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience.

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Three-Act storytelling structure

Three-Act storytelling structure

One of the oldest and most straightforward storytelling formulas:

  • Setup: Set the scene and introduce the character(s)
  • Confrontation or “Rising action” : Present a p...

Five-Act storytelling structure

Also known as Freytag’s Pyramid:

  • Exposition: Introduce important background information
  • Rising action: Tell a series of events to build up to the climax
  • Climax: Turn the story around (usually the most exciting part of the story)
  • Falling action: Continue the action from the climax
  • Dénouement: Ending the story with a resolution.

Before – After – Bridge storytelling formula

  • Before: Describe the world with Problem A.
  • After: Imagine what it’d be like having Problem A solved.
  • Bridge: Here’s how to get there.

Set the stage of a problem that your target audience is likely to experience ( a problem that your company solves). Describe a world where that problem didn’t exist. Explain how to get there or present the solution (i.e. your product or service).

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