How to create stories to drive action

Great storytellers can cut through the noise and produce tremendous value for organizations at a very low cost. Telling a solid story is just as essential as developing a great product. One of the most important roles to fill when trying to build a passionate community is that of the storyteller. Edelman SVP Steve Rubel hit the nail on the head in a blog post entitled The Rise of the Corporate Transmedia Storyteller. From his post:

Organizations need to do more than just unleash their subject matter experts en masse. They need to activate them in multiple channels at once and equip them in how to create a compelling narrative — an emerging set of skills called Transmedia Storytelling.

Transmedia storytelling doesn’t need to be fancy. It can be executed with low-budget tools. However, it does need to be thought through. It requires that a business’ subject matter experts know how to simultaneously tell good stories and to do so using text, video, audio and images depending on the venue.

Now the term “transmedia storytelling” sounds a little grandiose for me, but the thought behind it, that organizations need people who can tell interesting stories in any medium at very low cost, is one I agree with wholeheartedly.

Most organizations I know do not suffer from a lack of content. Many produce an incredible amount of stuff that almost no one reads or watches. I find this kind of sad. A great storyteller won’t create the most content. In fact, the opposite is often true. A talented storyteller will create a few — or even just one — story that gets told over and over.

Great storytellers are the catalysts in passionate, engaged communities.

And if that statement doesn’t resonate with you, let me make the argument through a more traditional, business-friendly lens: Would you rather invest in creating 1,000 pieces of content each reaching one person or one piece of content that reaches 1,000 people? Part of the power of storytelling is that it allows you to expand the reach of your message without increasing your production costs.

Which brings me to my story about storytelling.

About two years ago, I was approached by many sales enablement associations to tell my story about how I enable sales organizations. That’s a big story. I spent nearly six months writing the story and developing the visuals to tell that story in under 90 minutes in front of hundreds of people.

It was the story of a journey and was themed as a roadmap – a very complex map. After presenting the topic, I would get rave reviews, but months later I would reconnect with audience members and they had done nothing with the information. They themselves had not taken action and they had not passed the story onto anyone. It was a story full of details that only I could tell. It never created a community or even a further discussion.

This year ,I picked a much smaller portion of the story, cut it down to 40 minutes, built a web page to reinforce the story, added video, and downloadable aids and the story is taking off. I am making connections throughout the world that have heard about this story. THAT is a success story!

May sure your story can be retold and that it is supported with the right media for it to take off and drive action.

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picture by Katrina Snaps

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