Have you ever been excited to tell someone about something that happened to you that you think is hilarious, fascinating, a great selling point, or maybe even life-changing and then it seems to fall flat on your audience?
I have experienced this more times than I care to admit. And that is one of the many reasons I decided to study storytelling. There are countless things I’ve learned, some that make me think “duh, why didn’t I notice that in stories I love?” and other things that are so subtle, you wouldn’t notice them unless you’ve been trained to do so.
But if you don’t have several months to take a sabbatical and immerse yourself in an in-depth study of storytelling, I’m gonna give you the quickest shortcut to captivating your audience with stories, whether you use them for business or your personal life.
Every great story has these three ingredients: conflict/problem, amplify the pain (sometimes with an unexpected twist), and finally, resolution.
Why do these three pieces matter so much? Simple. In the words of Andrew Stanton, the creator of Toy Story and Wall-E,
“Make me care.”
Stories are designed to make us (the audience) care about whatever the teller is sharing. Once we care, we engage. Without knowing it, your audience really does want to work for the end resolution and call to action you have for them – they just don’t want to know it. Thyou you ey want a reward and a reward is simply not rewarding if it required nothing to receive it.
For example, if you’re a cook and you decide to spend two hours making a decadent dessert, you will notice the flavor of each ingredient and how each part of the process came together to make absolute perfection. On the other hand, if you have just finished eating a filling meal at a restaurant and decide to order a dessert even though you’re really not hungry for it and have no idea what’s in it or what was involved to make it, you won’t have nearly the same appreciation – it’s no longer a reward.
So if you’re looking for engagement and a relationship with your audience, guide them through a journey that they work through with you, so that the end is truly a reward.
The first critical piece is introducing conflict or a problem. Something has to go wrong. By nature, humanity seeks balance and order. When you disrupt that by introducing a problem or conflict that your audience can somehow relate to emotionally, they will engage. Introducing conflict is what grabs your audience’s attention. The faster you move into conflict, the better.
Second, amplify the pain. After the main character has begun to work on solving the problem, something happens that makes it even worse. It always gets worse before it gets better, right? Often, it’s something that’s completely unforeseen You’re really making the audience want the main character to succeed now.
Finally, offer resolution. This is the time to tie up the loose ends and finish on a high note. Your audience was willing to stick with you and work for the ending, so make sure it’s positive. Even if the story is traumatic or doesn’t have a happy ending, you still need to end it with hope of a brighter future. Give your audience a peace that the situation is resolved or is on its way to restoration.
The next time you prepare to share a story on your blog, at a presentation/webinar, or while meeting with a prospect, remember to include: conflict/problem, amplify the pain, and resolution. Have some fun with it. Pay attention to see when your audience really begins to care about the story.
When you learn to tell stories in a way that makes others care, it will create an emotional connection. These connections are what forges memories, bonds, and relationships. And as business owners, we know it’s all about relationship.