When it comes to telling stories we want to create an experience for audiences. After all, that’s the whole point of storytelling, right? To tap into people’s emotions and make them feel something? If they’re emotionally stimulated, they’ll be engaged and they’ll be more likely to buy stuff, so people say.
But when everybody is telling stories in some shape or form, how do you stand out? More complex stories, better special effects, immersive experiences, or entire story universes? There’s so much pressure that we can sometimes try too hard and it all goes wrong. Maybe we should do the exact opposite. Instead of over-engineering things and creating elaborate story worlds and characters, shouldn’t we just focus on simple stories with relatable experiences with passion, sincerity and credibility?
You don’t need fancy resources to tell a good story
If musicians can continually create new songs with just 12 notes, why can’t a storyteller create new stories with limited raw materials? Wasn’t Ernest Hemingway supposedly able to tell a thought-provoking story in just six words?
Except our raw materials aren’t that limited, are they? We can draw on all of the experiences, situations, and problems that people face every day. By tapping into this rich source of material you can create something compelling that doesn’t involve multiple universes, expensive technology, or complicated backstories.
People like stories they can relate to, something they’ve experienced or thought themselves and they should be drawn into the why of the story. If a product is good and has been conceived with a real problem in mind, we don’t need gimmicks.
So how do you create a relatable story?
No matter how much effort you put into explaining a product’s features or how many cutesy animations you put into your video, no matter how cool your superhero, or complex their origin story, nobody is going to respond to something they can’t relate to. People relate to problems and they respond to solutions. This is what should guide any story.
I’ve been telling stories in one form or another forever it seems. Some were great but some were absolute stinkers. Younger me use to blame it on “dumb” audiences who just didn’t get it, but now I realise it’s often my fault when a story dies on its backside. Too much shiny-shiny and not enough substance. Too much detail and not enough direction. Anyway, I wrote down some of the common mistakes I’ve made or seen in the past and the lessons I’ve learned.
You can apply these strategies to any story, whether you’re producing a training video, selling a shiny new car, or explaining how to configure a server. So go on, be a bit more human and keep things simple.