4 myths most people believe about storytelling

March 30, 2017

Effective, well-framed storytelling is a powerful force for businesses and organizations. However, in school, they don’t tell you everything you need to know about stories.

What they don’t tell you in grade school

In school, they don’t tell you how important stories will become in your personal and professional life.

Growing up, my definition of “story” was shaped by books I was forced to read. You probably have a list of the books you loved—and hated—from years ago. Here’s mine…

(I kind of love all of these.) But I’ve learned in the “adult world” no one sits around all day and analyzes literary fiction. But they do talk about STORY a lot.

Business are always storytelling

Every business is telling some kind of story. Whether on social media, in a corporate video, or through their email marketing strategy, an entire brand can be summed up as a STORY. The story might be happening on purpose or by accident. It includes the history, mistakes, success, and milestones that make the company who they are. There are characters, conflict, mysteries, and adventures.

An entire brand can be summed up as a STORY.

Taking control of your story

I’d argue businesses aren’t more purposeful in their brand storytelling is because they weren’t taught the right way to think about story. (If we have to blame someone, let’s blame grade-school.)

The four myths people believe about storytelling

If you can learn to shift your thinking away from the grade-school understanding of STORY, you’ll discover how your story can be a powerful force in helping your reach your goals.

Here are four common myths people believe when they think about stories. See if you’ve ever thought any of these:

1. Stories are storybooks.

When people hear “story,” the image of a big leather book with colorful pictures may come to mind. It turns out that a story doesn’t need a book to be a story. That IS one popular medium, but it’s not the only one. Stories have existed before the invention of paper and before books. (Personally I love the physical object of a book—but the power of Story is bigger than the device used to transfer its information!)

2. Stories are fiction.

Some folks believe a story is “a false statement or explanation; a lie.” They might say, “I’m not telling you a story—this is the truth!!” If we only understand stories as something untrue or make-believe, it becomes difficult to use the power of true stories in your life and business.

3. Stories have to be long and have lots of details.

Amateur storytellers the mistake of including too many details and giving away too much. The best stories omit details to increase imagination. Some of the longest-lasting fairy tales are a page or less long. The Great Gatsby isn’t that long, either. Short can be good. Let your reader’s brain do some work.

4. Stories need an ending.

Lots of people are always looking for a happy ending or a triumphant conclusion. But have you ever thought of sharing a story piece-by-piece? Sometimes a story without a clear ending can be enticing. “The ending isn’t written yet” can make a story compelling.

Share your story piece-by-piece. That’s OK.

Do you think about your company’s story often?

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