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4 Tips for Better Storytelling


Editor’s Note: We’re strong believers in the power and importance of storytelling. So much so, in fact, that we invited industry thought leader and growth hacking expert Kristin Luck to deliver a workshop on that very topic at IIeX Europe 2016 (3-4 March in Amsterdam). In advance of the event, we asked Kristin for some tips on telling more impactful stories that we can all put into practice TODAY to supercharge the impact of our research. Enjoy!

By Kristin Luck

Our brains are insanely greedy for stories. We spend about a third of our lives daydreaming—our minds are constantly looking for distractions—and the only time we stop flitting from daydream to daydream is when we have a good story in front of us.

As researchers, telling stories doesn’t necessarily come naturally. We are inundated with data constantly. But it’s important to remember that when we’re reading straight data, only the language parts of our brain work to decode the meaning. When we read a story, not only do the language parts of our brains light up, but any other part of the brain that we would use if we were actually experiencing what we’re reading about becomes activated as well. Stories have the ability to engage an audience in a way that logic and bullet points never could.

Whether you’re using research to convince internal stakeholders, inspire clients with data or sell your next big idea (or project!), great storytelling can mean the difference between lackluster results and mind blowing success. So how to become a master storyteller? Here are 4 tips for great storytelling that I’ll be digging into during my workshop at IIeX Europe.

  1. Establish a connection and make your audience root for you. Personalizing your stories is key to connecting with your audience but steer clear of the “humble brag.” In interviews and client meetings you’ve likely been trained to talk yourself up, but in storytelling, people want to root for an underdog. Storytelling is not pitching.
  2. Make it memorable. Making a story memorable is as important as establishing a connection. Stories can be about very small stuff, so long as the emotions involved are big.
  3. Deliver meaning. Stories are memorable patterns with meaning. The challenge with being a researcher is that something what we’re presenting (for instance selecting the label for a new brand of soup), doesn’t have a lot of meaning. This is why storytelling is critical to our success not just as researchers but as business owners.
  4. Don’t forget your “hook.” Finding a hook, that link between the research and the story, is imperative. There’s a great quote from Christina Baldwin: “Words are how we think, stories are how we link.” Make sure your story has a clear beginning, middle and most important, an END that brings it all together.

Establishing connection, making stories memorable, delivering meaning and finding your “hook” – we’ll be digging in (and practicing) these key principles and much more during my storytelling workshop on March 4.

Interested in doing some reading before the event? Make sure you check out one of my favorite storytelling books, Lead With A Story by Paul Smith. Also my pal Anthony “Tas” Tasgal’s new publication, The Storytelling Book, has already been nominated for Marketing Book of the Year.

I hope to see you in Amsterdam!

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