Response to Digital Storytelling Scholarship: #7
*I am currently working my way through my fourth semester of the Information and Learning Technologies master’s program at University of Colorado, Denver. This is the seventh post within a series of responses to digital storytelling resources that I’ve been assigned to write for a course titled Digital Storytelling.
Lately I have been responding to some incredible digital storytelling resources (here, here, and here), but this week I chose to find a “scholarship” to read and “learn me some things”. During my search on “how to tell a story in a business setting” (because I’ve been wondering how learning about digital storytelling can help me in my current real world situation), I stumbled upon a great article from the Harvard Business Review titled, How to Tell a Great Story by Carolyn O’Hara. Ms. O’Hara writes about how to use stories in a business setting, stories that can support a project, stories that help explain to an employee how he might improve, and stories that inspire a team that is facing challenges.
Ms. O’Hara mentions that “stories create “sticky” memories by attaching emotions to things that happen”. This reminded me very much of a book I read for another course in this master’s program, titled, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Stick and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (you can read chapter 1 here for free!). The underlying concept is that ideas and stories that “stick” create and cultivate success. And although Ms. O’Hara wrote this article for a business setting, I feel that her content can be applied to multiple storytelling settings.
According to Ms. O’Hara, there are six key elements for telling a story:
- Start with a message – Each decision about your story should flow from these questions: Who is your audience and what is the message you want to share with them?
- Mine your own experiences – The best storytellers look to their own memories and life experiences for ways to illustrate their message.
- Don’t make yourself the hero – The more you celebrate your own decisions, the less likely your audience will connect with you and your message.
- Highlight a struggle – A story without a challenge simply isn’t very interesting.
- Keep it simple – Some of the most successful and memorable stories are relatively simple and straightforward.
- Practice makes perfect – Practice with friends, loved ones, and trusted colleagues to hone your message into the most effective and efficient story.
And several principles to remember:
- Consider your audience — choose a framework and details that will best resonate with your listeners.
- Identify the moral or message your want to impart.
- Find inspiration in your life experiences.
- Assume you don’t have storytelling chops — we all have it in us to tell memorable stories.
- Give yourself the starring role.
- Overwhelm your story with unnecessary details.