Previously, we dove deeper into the steps and components of creating an impactful story. Now Todd shares insight on organizing thoughts and dealing with challenges.
Todd, what are the biggest hurdles you face? Which step in the storytelling process takes the longest?
The biggest hurdles I face are:
- Filtering content – refining and defining the key message
- Aligning content to a specific strategy approach
With clients, this is an important stage where we act as a sounding board. The refining and defining process sets the tone and narrative to a specific audience. This framing step takes the longest because it means setting the overall story arch and connective pieces. We act as a sounding board and diplomacy and listening are often most valuable in this stage. We might have to pinpoint critical informational holes, a lack of adequate substance, or a lack of connection from the audience’s viewpoint in this crucial phase. It becomes our job to help find the pivotal hook.
How do you organize your thoughts?
- Develop a broad outline
- Build in layers
- Embrace fluidity of information
I’ve had the advantage of working with layout and design for many years. I’m more accustomed to the process of building in stages and layers, knowing that projects will constantly shift as more information comes in, so setting a broad outline is essential. I also work better by writing down general concepts on individual pieces of paper. This allows me to physically move components quickly and not become pulled down into the details of rewriting each outline.
Can you give us an example of a project where you helped a client develop their story?
Our large healthcare solutions provider client needed a keynote positioned for investors and partners. They came to us with an outline which focused heavily on the analytic and metrics solutions, very end-product driven. Effective storytelling goes beyond the analytics and metrics to help:
- Itemize core action
- Serve up solutions
- Shift from product numbers and data to big picture solutions
Sound complicated? This story was lacking a humanistic touch. We shifted the narrative so that each speaker was relating to the core action that their solutions provided which was helping people, and built an underlying bridge that created a connection to the audience. The shift from speaking about numbers and data, to one about people working to make the healthcare industry work better for doctors, providers, and patients moved the data driven concept to one that was relatable to the audience.