A storytelling infographic and what you can learn from it

By Limor Shiponi

This infographic was designed to teach the basics of the storytelling mechanism – how it works in action. Tying it to the current state of content management and creation in business – it can help you understand how to create the kind of communication style and content that will help you adapt & compete in an environment that is becoming highly-connected and synchronous.

Understanding the infographic

The card demonstrates a dynamic process combined of three main phases. As usual, when trying to present a dynamic act in graphics – everything is standing still. In reality and real-time action, each part of the entire process is vibrant and interconnected.

The outer frame

Elements – storytelling is by humans, for humans. We go through the exact life phases our listeners go through. Our life experience is evident. People want to know you know what makes up their problem and they can learn it through your content. If they can’t, how will they trust you understand their needs?

6 senses – storytelling language leans heavily on the senses. If you’ve ever listened to a storyteller you could experience the way your body resonates to the spoken word. They want to know you walk your talk in the real world. The content should reflect also sensual understanding, real-world action and the 6th sense – feelings.

Links – Storytellers are knowledgeable people and never stop learning. Knowing the stories is not enough – you want to know as much as possible about them, where they came from and about other storytellers and the way they walk the voyage. Nothing stands alone really and they want to know you are linked to the bigger picture in your field, that you are very well aware about what’s going on around you, not locked away in some desolate laboratory.

Visions – when I ask people what it is that storytelling does, the most common answer is “it creates this kind of movie in my imagination. I could see the story images”. Learn how to create content that wakes-up the mind to see things. It does not necessarily mean you need visuals but rather that you always consider the possibility to see what you are talking about also when you write text.

The inner frame

If the outer frame deals with creating domain expertise, the inner frame is about dynamic decision-making in real-time, based on that expertise and the ability to apply it the right way. This is where the listener influences the storyteller and event in a way that will extract the best result for her (the listener). How does the listener influence the teller? through signs the teller is skilled to interpret. (The listener is in no way passive although I’ve read this ignorant remark in too many places).

How can you know if you’re trying to learn something from this post about managing content? well, people ask. You just need to listen. People ask for content through the way they navigate your site for instance – go and check the analytics. They might even ask for a piece of content directly – check your mailbox or even before that – give them a contact form or a chance to comment.

Observation – storytellers look at the audience, we listen to them, the way they breath, move in their chairs, look at each other or gaze into eternity. We listen to their conversations before we go up stage, collect signs about who they are and what they need. If they react overtly – it’s gold for us – a good fat hint about how to continue serving their needs. Even if they don’t we never stop observing them. Keep your eyes on your audience, learn how to interpret behavior, learn how needs are expressed. This skill evolves through time – the more the better.

Choice – we take instant choices all the time. Some of them are pre-determined but they are always on the testing. Letting-go is a high skill in storytelling. Once you take a choice you drop all the rest, it is no longer important at least until you tell the story again. Don’t overload someone looking for content with everything you have. Make a choice and serve one relevant piece. If they don’t like it serve something else without feeling bad about the first course. The more they reject, the closer you are to realizing what they want.

Eye-level – everybody can understand a storyteller and not because we speak basic language but rather because we speak human. We don’t use jargon or empty fluff. Make sure people can understand what you’re giving them and don’t need a dictionary for every other word. Eye-level means “search where they are on your screen” – where are they exactly? this level? that level? what are they prepared to receive right now?

Clear-action – after all the above we open our mouth and tell the story. No “ahhh” no “blahhh” just clear-action word by word. No hedging, explanations previews or acknowledgments – story.

The inner star

Is really a story form which I will not elaborate upon right now – there are plenty of resources. For the purpose of content management and serving the right content, remember that in story, the listener or reader goes through three dramatic phases together with the main character. This resembles the three phases of a possible prospect approaching your content – awareness, interest and desire, before buying. Buying is just like buying into a story.

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