The World’s Greatest Storytellers
When you think of a good storyteller, perhaps you have fond memories of your favorite uncle during the holidays or that kid in school who could always draw a crowd with his verbal virtuosity. The truth is, all of us have been surrounded by great examples of storytelling since we were born.
Learning Storytelling Skills Starts Early
Studies show that children whose parents read stories aloud and with them are far more likely to be successful in life, developing skills that will assist them in their future interactions, including storytelling.
Bill Murphy Jr., in his Inc. article on the subject, suggests stopping in the middle of a story and allowing your child to create their own adventures. It is not only critical to their intellectual growth but also their emotional empathy.
Great Storytellers Are All Around Us
But what separates great storytellers from the rest of us? These are the people who can bring together diverse individuals and groups through a shared experience, making them feel like they are part of a larger tribe. You may not think of them in that way, but your favorite filmmaker, comedian, musician, or even corporate star, tells stories for a living.
Storytelling in Animation
Perhaps the greatest example of storytelling is Walt Disney. His vision and ability to tell emotionally engaging stories through animation and live-action films have had an impact on literally hundreds of millions of lives worldwide. Maybe billions.
His theme parks are a physical embodiment of his stories, allowing people of any age to get lost in the characters and adventures he and his incredible team of Imagineers create.
Best of all, Disney as a company continues to progress in its storytelling skills, now featuring strong female leads and diverse characters.
Storytelling in Comedy
While Jerry Seinfeld is known for comedy about nothing, he still weaves in elements that are immediately relatable to his audience. Being a good storyteller, however, is not enough if your subject offends a large group of people.
Louis C.K. is perhaps one of the best storytelling comedians on the planet. His humor is raw and honest, but in the new “me too” era, that kind of honesty is no longer embraced. Stories can and should have conflict, but the story shouldn’t alienate your reader, listener or viewer, unless that is the point of the story.
Storytelling in Music
Music is also a great medium for spinning a good story. The most successful musicians know the most important part of the lyrics and music is how the story makes the listener feel and how it connects with their life.
Bruce Springsteen is a perfect example. His music is wholly American, and it speaks to the American experience. His songs have reoccurring characters, specific locations and just enough detail to take you on his emotional journey. They have heroes, villains and conflict. Virtually everyone who listens to a Bruce Springsteen song can relate to something that’s happening in the story.
Brands have stories to tell, and the more you can engage the audience in the story, the better chance you have of building them into brand ambassadors.
Highly successful corporate leaders also tend to be great storytellers. Think Elon Musk, who convinced everyone he could transform the vehicle industry with his electric car vision or could launch passenger rockets into space. Time will tell if he’s ultimately successful, but he has definitely captured the public’s imagination.
My boss, Bob Parsons, is amazing at holding an audience’s attention. And yes, while most people are initially drawn to him as the founder of GoDaddy, Parsons Xtreme Golf (PXG) and multiple other highly successful operations, what pulls people in is his ability to make you feel like you are part of his story. That it is honest. Unvarnished. Real.
So, the next time you’re listening to a great story, pause. Allow yourself to be transported. And if you need some help telling your brand story, our team of storytellers is here to help.