If you have an audience to engage, planning is the first step, right? Not necessarily. The big story is what you need to be thinking about first. An unfolding drama that will grab the attention of the people who matter and give you a structure for everything you want to communicate.
The big story will cut through the sea of sameness. It’s time to fascinate and inspire your audience with a rich series of unfolding storylines. And the creative principles used by multi-million-dollar TV dramas should be your template.
Six tips for engaging people with story
- What’s new, what’s different? Start with impact, something bold – inciting interest, creating momentum.
- What’s in it for me? What’s at stake? That tension of possibility is what keeps people watching and listening, so make sure your story is about making something big happen.
- Show how the story affects people personally. There’s a reason that epic disaster movies still focus on the fate of individuals. A city saved from a giant storm vs a lover rescued from a cliff edge: which do we care about more?
- Be honest about the challenges as well as the opportunities, and keep both sides of the story alive. No-one’s interested in one-track, good-news broadcasting. Good storytelling reveals the values of the main character (that’s you!) by being transparent about the challenges they’re facing.
- Maintain a handful of individual storylines so that there’s always something going on. How do they ebb and flow over time?
- The drama we watch on TV and in the cinema is judged on its results, and the same is true for your story. Build in measures to make sure you’re finding your audience and can respond when you need to.
Every story’s different
Is your organisation full of tradition like Downton Abbey, or full of action, like Game of Thrones? Steeped in history like Netflix’s The Crown, or packed with intrigue like The Bodyguard?
Whatever the backdrop and the journey your organisation is on, there’s a big story to tell.
Is 2019 the year your story comes alive?