Stories are one of the most powerful ways we can build meaningful relationships and influence behavior. Storytelling has become a critical skill for creatives and marketers to get our messages heard by both users and stakeholders. In this day-long, highly interactive workshop, we’ll walk through the what makes for a compelling story and practice telling stories that relate to your business problems. This workshop is focused on stories in a business setting, but you can translate what you learn to any story.
Stories are one of the most enduring ways we have to make meaning of the world around us. Our human brains crave stories, so much so that we make them up when we don’t get them. We use stories to communicate, to connect, and to persuade. But far too often, we don’t harness the power of stories to get a business message across. Whether you’re designing a presentation, writing some web copy, or scripting a video, there’s both an art and a craft to storytelling, and we’ll cover both in this workshop.We’ll explore the art of storytelling and practice the craft as we dig into the elements that make a satisfying story and break down examples from the world around us. Then, we’ll work through a series of practice-makes-perfect exercises to help you construct and tell your own stories for better business communication.
Here’s a bit more on what we’ll learn:
- Understand what happens to our brains when we engage with stories
- Identify the elements that make a compelling story
- Explore how audience affects a story
- Be inspired by examples of compelling storytelling in business presentations, videos, websites, and social media writing
- Examine ways to use stories to solve business problems
- Practice storytelling using a real business problem from your daily work
Prerequisites – None.
Who Should Take This Class
This workshop is for anyone in design, marketing, advertising, and digital communication where the art of persuasion, storytelling, and relationship-building is essential.
Detailed Class Outline
10:00 – 10:15
Icebreaker and Intros
10:15 – 10:30
The why of story
Our human brains crave stories, so much so that we make them up when we don’t get them. But why? We’ll take a brief look at stories as a survival tool. Then, we’ll look at the neurological principles behind why stories still matter. And finally, we’ll look at why stories are so effective in communicating a message, persuading people, changing behavior and driving action.
10:30 – 11:00
So, what is a story, anyway?
Everyone knows a good story when they see it, but a story in a business setting doesn’t always work like a story in a Hollywood movie. We’ll break down some definitions of story and look at the elements that you’ll need to create a successful story — a character, a problem or a friction, emotion, meaning and change — using real-life examples from videos, presentations, and websites. We’ll also explore why audience is such a crucial factor in storytelling for business or action.
11:00 – 11:30
You’ll hear that all stories have a “beginning, middle, and end”; but that’s just one way of thinking about story structure. In this section, we’ll also look at frameworks for conceptualizing story structure. In a small group, you’ll work together to tear down a story from your world and look for the story elements and structure that make it work: identify the audience and the audience context, and then we’ll work through the elements that make the story successful for that audience.
11:30 – 11:45
11:45 – 12:15
Story goals in a business setting
In a business setting, there are a few common reasons we’d want to tell a strategic story: to sell an idea or a concept, to set a vision, to energize a room, to educate and empower people. We’ll look at stories in each scenario. Then, you’ll identify problems from your work that you could solve with a story, choose one, and determine the goals for your personal story. You’ll also identify your audience, and detail out what they’re thinking, feeling, and doing. For this portion of the project, you’ll work individually on a story and get peer feedback in small groups.
12:15 – 12:45
Framing content for an audience
You should have a solid map that helps define the context of your audience. You should also have a good sense of what your story needs to do. Now, using a Think / Feel / Do framework, we’ll map out the ideal state of your audience after interacting with your story. Then, we’ll look at the types of stories, emotions, and structures that can do the job you need done, including common story drivers and how they apply to content.
12:45 – 1:30
1:30 – 2:00
Developing the meat of your story
Half the battle is won with the strategy for your story in place. Once you have the strategy for your story, you’re now at the part in which you can think about story types and structures. We’ll identify a character, define the problem, and use the situation / complication / resolution framework to map out the content for your personal story that achieves your goal.
1:45 – 2:00
Style and showbiz
Voice and tone, word choice, presentation style, and design all have an impact on your story. We’ll look at some of the tricks you can use to engage your audience with style and showbiz.
2:00 – 2:15
Avoiding the pitfalls
Story can be a magical cure-all if used correctly, but what if it’s not? Like any tool, story has dos and don’ts of usage. We’ll run through some common pitfalls of story and talk through some of the plagues for storytellers, such as frontloading the exposition, losing sight of the goals, and forgetting to use a unifying structure.
2:15 – 2:30
2:30 – 3:30
Showing and telling
It wouldn’t be storytelling without a chance to show off your story ideas. Volunteers from the audience will talk through their stories. As a class, we’ll give feedback and help hone and refine the ideas.
3:30 – 4:00
Wrap up, Q&A, and evaluations