June 16, 2016 Mitchell Derrey

Last week we gave you a 90,000 foot overview of the storytelling process. This week, our interview with Todd dives deeper into the steps and components of creating an impactful story.

Todd, how would you describe storytelling?

My perspective comes from working in the graphic design industry. For me, the ideal of storytelling is to capture a moment in order to:

  • Educate
  • Persuade
  • Infuriate… (yes, necessary sometimes)

By our nature, we tell stories every day. We need to recognize how much impact our words and visual communications have on others. Storytelling does not have to be formalized with an audience, it can be the simple thoughts in your own head that prompt you to experience a movement or remember a place and time. Stories take many forms: a decisive icon, a positioned tag line to elevate or define a brand, a self-portrait that captures solitude, or a musician playing in a secluded night club. All of these transport, connect, and evolve ideas.

What is the process of telling a compelling story?

Our clients come to us with so much to tell, that many parts take equal precedence. We help them by starting with the big picture, just like a painting or drawing.

  1. Sketch out the foundation
  2. Show how the parts can fit
  3. Weave in the details

We constantly pose the questions, who, what, when, where, why, and how. We gain insight into the audiences’ perspective, avoiding too much detail before we have laid out how it all fits together. This style of early outlining and foundation structure helps; as you filter and refine more content into position, you have a guide that keeps you on track with end goals.

What components make for an impactful story?

There are a variety of intersecting components, and they differ depending on the type of story and audience:

  • Pace – how the story unfolds
  • Story arch – unifying the pieces to make up the whole

Stories that succeed are the ones that are able to create a bridge between the storyteller and the audience by using the right mix of these components. It doesn’t matter if the story is a sketch, song, or keynote. At their core, if the message gets under our skin, it causes a reaction. You can be elated at the possibilities, frustrated in a differing opinion, or awestruck in disbelief.

Some of the best stories are subtle, simmering over time so that your reaction is not immediate. This is one component that’s value is underestimated – setting the underlying foundation so that it becomes part of the audience and they in turn become storytellers.

Want more? Stay tuned for next week! You’ll hear about our own personal challenges, the way we organize thoughts, and our experience working with clients.