By Sven Larsen (@zemoga)
Has this ever happened to you? Some well meaning person (maybe a child, maybe a date, maybe a business acquaintance) says “So what’s your story?”. And you freeze or mumble something incomprehensible. Not because you don’t have a story (in fact you may be an incredibly interesting person) but because you don’t know how to start.
For some of us (especially those of us who end up in the media and communications fields) storytelling comes naturally. For many, it doesn’t. But storytelling is a craft that can be learned. And some of the greatest tale spinners of our times have relied on tried and true methods to polish and improve their own flights of fancy.
If you’re looking to tell your (or your company’s) story, here are a few resources that can help:
One of the best ways to start learning how to tell stories is to listen to them. These two sites provide terrific access to a number of individual stories as well as resources about how stories can be used in business, problem solving, conflict resolution and other areas. Their also a good starting place for understanding the construction of stories.
If you’re looking for a much more advanced explanation of story construction then Robert McKee’s website/online writer’s community is the place for you. McKee is a revered figure in Hollywood circles (he practically invented the three act story structure) and his seminars have long been considered a must for aspiring screenwriters. With the Master only conducting two of these seminars in the USA this year, his online home, packed full of lessons and tools is a great (if pricey) resource for the aspiring storyteller.
If you feel like you’ve mastered the basics, why not take your newly found skills out for a test drive. The Moth features ten short (five minutes or less) spoken stories during each of their highly entertaining events. Storytellers names are drawn at random so anyone has a chance to get on stage and tell their tale. Stories must be true and have a beginning, middle and end. It’s a terrific way to refine your storytelling skills as the combined pressure of the time limit and a living, breathing audience force performers to take their game to the next level.
Want to capture somebody else’s story but don’t know how to get started? The Storycorps Question Generation can provide you with lists of literally dozens of questions to walk you through an interview process. This guided application allows you to identify the key touch points that will allow for maximum engagement with your interview subject and your audience.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to storytelling resources. There are numerous festivals, instructional book, tools and methods to help you tell the story of anyone from your grandmother to your latest client acquisition.Judicious use of these tools will help you become an accomplished storyteller in no time.
So what are you going to say? What’s your story?