I love sharing the storytelling gospel through our workshops.
It’s both fun and satisfying to see the dots connect in how storytelling techniques can be applied to any type of communications coming from an organization. When I say “any,” I mean communications ranging from job descriptions to Twitter to PR to the reply triggered from submitting a form.
I’ve conducted several training sessions over the summer with the latest being at the Savannah College of Arts and Design. While we cover a lot of ground over the course of four hours, my hope is to inspire participants to become students of storytelling.
With this in mind, I distribute a leave-behind package that can serve as a running start for those so inclined.
Here’s my current go-to leave-behind materials for the workshops:
- “The Secrets of Storytelling: Why We Love a Good Yarn” (Scientific American): For my money – and it does call for shelling out $7.95 – the definitive article on the how and why behind storytelling magic.
- “Block That Adjective!” (The Wall Street Journal): Alexander McCall Smith makes a case for viewing adjectives as the enemy. A vignette from his treatise:
“My bête noire – and there is nothing wrong with using the occasional French expression, although one does not want to sound too much like a menu – is overwriting. Something is overwritten when there is just too much of it. This may be because the writer has labored the point and made a mountain out of a molehill, or because too many words are used. As a result, descriptions are cluttered and the prose quickly becomes unreadable.”
Mr. McCall Smith would make this list even if he didn’t drop by my “neighborhood” a couple years ago.
- “Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains” (Lifehacker): You don’t need a Ph.D. in cognitive science to get the gist of this piece. Leo Widrich explains how the language processing parts in the brain decode the words into meaning while storytelling activates multiple parts of the brain.
- “Designing the Words: Why Copy is a Design Issue” (Smashing Magazine): There’s a tendency to go about visual storytelling by sandwiching visuals with the words. Instead, there should be a harmonizing of words and visual, a point emphasized in our workshop. This article, a recent addition to the workshop package, hits that note as well as sharing pragmatic advice for writing to persuade.
- “Your Brain on Fiction” (The New York Times): As the title indicates, the article takes a deep look at how our brains respond specifically to fiction. Still, it’s a relevant read for any storytelling geek in the business world.
If you’ve come across an article that belongs in the folder, please send the suggestion my way. The leave-behind package for our storytelling workshops is in a constant state of flux. A good thing.