November 9, 2022
How do you define a story worth telling? For your neighbor, it might be that they missed bin day. You might laugh, but the stories your brand is telling could be just as dull. If you’re not using classic storytelling methods and structures to engage audiences, you’re missing out on finding the special sauce in making any story worth telling. But, you might be thinking, is it cheating to start from an existing structure? Do I not compromise my creativity if I use a template? Actually, not at all. Let’s dive in.
The best storytellers of all time didn’t need to reinvent the wheel: they followed clear narrative structures, and readers came back to turn page after page. Jealous? Don’t be. Follow narrative templates in your storytelling and:
Here’s a list of storytelling techniques that work just as well for a lecture as for a video or Facebook post. Read through and you’ll have your audience hooked on every word in no time.
THREE ACTS, OR “TELL IT LIKE STEVE JOBS”
Steve Jobs needs no introduction (but we’ll give you one anyway). As one of the most successful commercial storytellers of his time, he’s a crash course in how to tell stories about your brand and product without driving your audience away. We’re advocates for borrowing content and so was he – in fact, one of the most classic storytelling structures in his speeches was borrowed directly from Hollywood.
Steve Jobs divided his storytelling narratives into three acts: “Setup”, “Confrontation”, and “Resolution”
A MARKETER’S VIEW - HOW DID STEVE JOBS TELL SUCH GREAT STORIES?
The marketer Dave Gerhardt at Drift sat down and studied Jobs’ lectures and created his version of Jobs' storytelling structure.
HOW TO GO DEEP WITH YOUR STORYTELLING ARC: SIMON SINEK’S GOLDEN CIRCLE
If you haven’t seen Simon Sinek's TED Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” then now’s the time. With his storytelling method, you can quickly notice what type of story ‘goes deep’:
BUILD A BRIDGE WITH YOUR STORYTELLING: USE THE BAB, OR BEFORE - AFTER - BRIDGE
We’re pulling the curtain back on this classic copywriter trick. Best of all, it’s actually easy to use in any type of storytelling:
PAINT THE PROBLEM PAINSTAKINGLY WITH YOUR STORYTELLING: USE PAS, OR PROBLEM – AGITATE – SOLVE
This is another excellent trick borrowed directly from the copywriter world. You can use it to paint a picture in your story:
TELL A STELLAR STORY WITH STAR – CHAIN – HOOK
This model is great – and best of all, it’s so easy to remember too. Imagine three things: a star, a chain, and a hook. Now you’re ready to tell a stellar story.
Another way of looking at this structure is that the ‘star’ catches the audience's attention, the ‘chain’ loops them in by their need for the solution and the ‘hook’ drags them into the net and shows how they can find the solution.
Like a fine wine, Aristotle’s storytelling method has aged beautifully with time. Thousands of years ago, he mused that a story is composed of three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. And it sounds obvious, but it’s critical to use this to underpin your video storytelling: a really clear beginning, middle and end should create movement, feels familiar to your audience and gets to the point. Unless, of course, you’re a neighbour telling us about bin day… then there really is no end to the bin story!
“But surely a 30-second video can’t be a story?”, we hear you ask. Of course it can, and if you want to write a great script, you’ll have to regard it as just that.
If you think of all your content as stories, it’ll help drive every piece of content forwards along the way. Think of billboard ads; they tell entire stories in either a single picture or in just a few words. You know why? Because they start with the story. Now it’s your turn!
How to structure your video storytelling
How to tell your story using two clever journalist tricks
Journalists perfect the art of expressing themselves concisely while still getting people to engage. Here are two clever tricks that most journalists use and how you can apply them to your storytelling and content.
The most important information always comes first
If you’re reading an article, you should be able to understand what it concerns simply through reading the headline, first paragraph and a section of the running text or a quote. Don’t leave anything to the imagination.
The core of this storytelling method is based on the pragmatic fact that people seldom read an entire article or watch an entire video. If your message is at the end, there’s a great risk that no one will ever see it.
This is a great trick for any situation where you are trying to tell your audience a message. This trick is less useful in such instances when the audience has to understand the chain of events or in instances when there are arguments and counterarguments. But when it comes to straight news, the trick is unbeatable.
Do you like documentaries? Or longer articles? If so, chances are that you’re already familiar with this storytelling trick.
Simply put, this method consists of two steps:
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