Telling a story is an effective and powerful tool that every brand and business should harness. Storytelling is a primary method of communication for thousands of years, and today it proves to be essential for entrepreneurs in establishing their brands and engaging the audience. I use storytelling in every speaking engagement, and proved time and again that it’s a wildly useful marketing strategy.
I’ve had the chance to catch up with Sean Cannell, a great guy who’s also a firm believer in storytelling. Sean is a renowned speaker himself, an influencer and a YouTuber. The interview aims to share with Sean’s Inner Circle group, and with everyone else, how telling a story can strengthen one’s content.
The Power of Storytelling
If there’s one thing that you can do to create stronger content, it would be telling a story.
Since caveman days, storytelling has been the biggest piece of how do we teach things and how do we get people to move.
It’s not so much about information and stats. It’s about how can I emotionally get you to move? How can I get you to respond? That’s from storytelling and that’s either your personal story which some people are too close to. You can also tell somebody else’s story. I can tell a story of something that moved me and share that as a piece of content.
Your next live can be starting with a story, “Hey, when I was 12 years old…” and then what did you learn from that? I always think stories are the number one way to really get an emotional response from your audience.
A story could be as short as 20 seconds, or substantially longer than that, but if you tell it effectively it will always elicit an emotional response from the audience.
Steps in Telling a Great Story
1. Set the stage
You want to tell people where you were. What was the place that you were at, at the beginning of the story? A lot of times, I talk about when I was 100 pounds overweight and a three-time college dropout. Just in that sentence, I’ve set the stage. Think of it as an establishing shot in a video. Where are we? What’s the setting? Where was I?
2. Identify the problem
What was I dissatisfied with? What’s the problem? Conflict is the most important piece and I feel like that’s the thing that everybody skips. They just want everything to be rosy. I need to know conflict. Why did we get into the movie? Because the hero got punched in the face, or the kid got kidnapped, or something went wrong. So, what were you dissatisfied with? What was the person in the story dissatisfied with?
3. What’s the solution?
What did I find? What was the solution? Who came along to help? Whether that was you finding something, you had an Obi-Wan Kenobi that came alongside you, you found the coach, you found the right program, the service that you offer, or whatever that is.
4. What was the result?
Lastly, are your results with that solution? I spent a lot of time in the health and weight loss world and I would talk to my clients about this and they would say, “Well Jimmy, I don’t have results yet.”
So, if you don’t have results just yet in your story, what are you excited about in the future? Even if you have results or not, you can talk about “this is where I was, this is what I found” or “this is where I was, this is what I was dissatisfied about, this is what I found, and this is why I’m excited about the future because I’m about to X, Y, Z.”
Here’s the key point: I can teach you how to do the same. So, I can either take you along “hey I just started the weight loss journey, I’m looking for people to do it with me” and some people want to be a part of building that together with you. Or it’s, “Hey, I’ve already climbed this mountain, I’m going to go back down to the bottom and I’m going to climb it again with you.”
So those are those four points.
As I was talking about the four steps in telling a story, Sean also had to share his. He goes to say “I’ll never forget 2009, the hardest season of our life, health challenges, housing challenges, and money challenges. So that’s where I was. The problem was we couldn’t pay our bills. I didn’t know what we were gonna do for the future. The solution was YouTube and affiliated marketing, originally and then eventually, I got results. What I love is that you might even just invite people on a journey. You did that work, marketing.”
So, as I was telling my story, Sean was also telling his own in his mind following those steps. That’s powerful evidence about how storytelling can make people relate with you and gather an emotional response from them.
Becoming Part of the Ground Roots
Some people also seem to think that you can only tell a great story only when you’ve accomplished your goal. However, I think you can bring those people along with you on your journey so that together, you can form the ground roots of whatever it is that you’re trying to establish.
Think of it like you found that band that you liked before they signed the big label, or you found the comedian before they hit it big. You were a part of the ground roots thing that made you have a closer tie.
Let’s say somebody’s in network marketing and they say, “but I haven’t made any money yet, I haven’t done anything cool.” You’re going to talk about why this conduit’s going to be the solution to where you’re going to go and why you’re excited to bring people along with you. That’s just key.
Finding Yourself in a Story
Lastly, one other advanced tip is, people may think that your story is super unique and nobody can relate to it. I’m going to tell you that the more dynamic and specific your story is, the more universal it is.
So, I may tell you that I was a three-time college dropout, living back at home with my parents, in my 20s. None of that may be anything you ever did, but you’re going to find yourself somewhere in my story. I’m going to tell my story and I’m going to feel something that the story teller told. If you can find yourself in my story, that’s how I know we’re supposed to work together.
Our conversation ended with a challenge: tell a story. Whether that’s a story worth a few seconds, or a longer story, just tell it and it will get stronger. Think about the points I’ve mentioned, and tie them up in a story.
I have been in the industry for almost two decades now, and when I try to motivate my audience, I make it a point to tell a good story, and it never fails me. So practice storytelling to reel your audience in, and start seeing the rewards it can do to your business or personal brand.