Storytelling truths to the mission

Photo credit - Glen Noble via

Photo credit – Glen Noble via

A great story is memorable. It stays with you. The connection of ideas develops into a problem, its resolution and the characters that mobilise the narrative and appeal to our humanity. Not all stories hook us in. Some appeal to a common experience, others to a yearning within. That is the power of the cause – our fourth storytelling truth.

The great storyteller is devoted to cause beyond self.
~ (Guber, 2007).

The storyteller’s mission is to tell a story that evokes the desired response (emotions, thoughts, call to action) in the audience. The proof is in whether they are won over and give the storyteller the support s/he seeks. The storyteller crafts the narrative to be true to that mission.

How does this work?
Deep inside most of us there is a yearning to be part of a worthy cause, something bigger than ourselves. The cause may be global or small. No matter the magnitude. The sentiment is what is important as this fuels the audience’s passion and buy-in. Where there is passion, there is energy – which can be an intoxicating mix in a story’s telling. In so doing, storytellers appeal to the audience with rhetorical questions that encourage self-reflection

We are hard-wired for storytelling
From early in life, when we are held in the crook of someone’s arm, on a lap or tucked up in bed, storytelling is significant in passing on ideas, values, aspects of culture and learning. We understand how stories work. They are predictable and structured. We know the ways their telling can be varied but at their heart, the four truths are important to their authenticity, “believability” and power.

A gift that keeps on giving
Those who tell a good story, have a powerful gift. Those who learn storytelling skills have the potential to achieve the same. There are often opportunities to hone these skills by a little forethought and planning in the everyday stories that arise. Perhaps you will harness this power in yourself?

Guber, Peter. 2007. The Four Truths of the Storyteller. Harvard Business Review. December 2007.

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