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Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling Applied to Product Managers & UX Designers

Storytelling Is Everything

Whether it's telling inspiring stories to customers or delivering a presentation to executives and the board of directors, being a good storyteller helps us make the leap from Good to Great.

Product managers and designers can benefit tremendously by great storytelling, and so can anyone who is working with product design.

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Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling Applied to Product Managers & UX Designers

Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling Applied to Product Managers & UX Designers

https://uxmag.com/articles/pixar%E2%80%99s-rules-of-storytelling-applied-to-product-managers-ux-designers

uxmag.com

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Key Ideas

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

“The most powerful person in the world is the story teller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.”

Storytelling Is Everything

Whether it's telling inspiring stories to customers or delivering a presentation to executives and the board of directors, being a good storyteller helps us make the leap from Good to Great.

Product managers and designers can benefit tremendously by great storytelling, and so can anyone who is working with product design.

Purpose

Instead of selling products, we need to focus on their purpose and what good it does for the end-user. Focus on the need of the customer and design the product around it.

Care

We empathize and admire the underdog, someone who struggles while facing difficult circumstances.

When we care for the end-user, getting to know their struggle, we can go the extra mile to help them.

Rooting For Success

If customer success is our end goal, we need to focus on how this is achieved, even with tough likelihoods. 

You need to root for the 'hero' to succeed, developing a connection and cheering along.

Credibility

We lose our audience when our stories lack credibility and believability, as we lose touch with the end-users objective and their journey. Keeping things believable and honest makes people care.

Tell-Show-Tell

The Tell-Show-Tell Structure:

  • Tell the audience what's about to unfold, and what the user needs.
  • Show them how it happens.
  • Tell them why they need to care and what's at stake.

The story also needs to be innovative and fresh, though it may revolve around the tried and tested hero's journey narrative.

The End

Know well in advance what the ending would be like.

The purpose and key result should be the final outcome. Make sure your focus does not deviate from the main objectives.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Pete Docter

“What you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to write about an event in your life that made you feel some ..."

Pete Docter
Pixar’s Plotting Techniques For Structure And Purpose

The Story Spine structure: Once upon a time there was [blank]. Every day, [blank]. One day [blank]. Because of that, [blank]. Until finally [bank].

A story’s purpose: find why you want to tell this story, what belief of yours fueled that story, what does it teach and its purpose. Stories with a purpose that you are passionate about have a bigger impact.

Jon Westenberg
Jon Westenberg

“Storytelling is the greatest technology that humans have ever created.” 

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Storytelling is...
Storytelling is...
...the process of using fact and narrative to communicate something to your audience. Some stories are factual, and some are embellished or improvised in order to better explain the core message.
Why we tell stories
  • Stories solidify abstract concepts and simplify complex messages;
  • Stories bring people together: stories connect us through the way we feel and respond to them;
  • Stories inspire and motivate, by tapping into people’s emotions and baring both the good and bad.
Good stories are …
  • Entertaining. Good stories keep the reader engaged and interested in what’s coming next.
  • Educational. Good stories spark curiosity and add to the reader’s knowledge bank.
  • Universal. Good stories are relatable to all readers and tap into emotions and experiences that most people undergo.
  • Organized. Good stories follow a succinct organization that helps convey the core message and helps readers absorb it.
  • Memorable. Whether through inspiration, scandal, or humor, good stories stick in the reader’s mind.

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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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Rules of storytelling, according to Pixar
  • Emphasize trying more than success.
  • Having an initial theme while writing is important but don’t get too attached to it.
  • Cutting things out
Hardwired for Stories

We love to tell and listen to stories. The 'Story Narrative' is hardwired in us, as we think and remember in stories.

A strong narrative can be the difference between succes...

Creative Problem Solving

Human beings are able to creatively solve problems, alone or in a group. This has given rise to many inventions, shaping common goals shared by a group of people.

We needed a 'sticky' idea to spread it among people, and the story narrative is exactly that.

Relating To The Characters

Stories cater to our Ego. A listener puts himself in the shoes of the protagonist of a story, and an idea is given emotional heft and sturdiness.

The more we are able to relate to the central character, the more engaging, effective and memorable a story narrative becomes.

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The Science Of Storytelling

According to Will Storr, author of ‘The Science Of Storytelling’, reality is just a phrase for a common set of shared facts and surroundings and is mainly a mind construct. We may not be living in ...

Change Matters

Human beings react to physical and environmental changes all the time. Likewise, a good story requires changes and challenges, and characters need to be provided with certain crossroads of change, else the story does not move.

Cause And Effect

Incomplete stories are filled automatically by the brain, as we have an urge to find meaning in everything. We also tend to believe the simplest explanations. Stories need to be shown a linear cause and effect for the reader to stay interested. If there are too many effects, the effect is lost.

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7 Laws of Success inspired from Steve Jobs
  • Follow your passions.  Without it, any rational person would give up.
  • Find your noble cause. For Jobs, making computers accessible to the average person wasn't just ...
Bring People Into Your World

Walt Disney took suspension of reality a step further building theme parks that brought people into his world. You can bring people into your world through storytelling and brand activation.

...

Suspend Reality

Suspending reality is a powerful storytelling technique as it creates a safe, magical world in which to contend with powerful emotions and themes, and it allows the viewer or listener to be transported and associate that escape from reality with the story.

Anything is possible and that becomes inspiration.

Focus on Shared Desires

Disney stories have a near universal appeal because they are designed around struggles and desires that are common to humans everywhere.

You can apply this message to storytelling in your company, too. When you’re communicating with your customers, you should focus on the shared experiences and desires that make your product so valuable.

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Have a focus

Don't try to be everything to everyone. Decide what your key message is and stick to it.

Keeping your message focused for your target demographic will make it that much easier to ...

Be authentic

It's the easy way to have an original personal brand. Pople can see right through a dishonest act and will call you out for it.

It will also make it much easier to manage your personal brand on a daily basis.

Tell a story

If your personal brand isn’t telling a story, you’ve already lost half of your potential audience.

The most effective personal branding strategy these days is to build a true narrative, a story around your brand that your audience can engage with.

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