13 Great Storytelling Techniques: How to Construct a Winning Story

storytellingtechniquesLearning how to tell a good story is important.  Storytelling is one of our most valuable assets in connecting with others.  The power of stories is capable of moving people to action far better than any threat or incentive you can throw their way.  Stories can relay important morals and lessons to children or even deliver a brand promise to consumers.  If you want to learn more about creative storytelling, take a look at this class or if you want to learn the specifics on storytelling for business, try this class.   Either way, the ability to tell a good story is a must.

13 Great Storytelling Techniques To Make Your Stories Memorable

1. Show it

Great and influential stories do not “tell”, they “show”.  Through storytelling elements like plot, character, conflict, theme, and setting, you can show your message and let your audience arrive at your meaning at a comfortable pace.

2. Length matters

Stories can be really short or as long as a book.  There are no constraints other than the time your audience has available.  That being said though, your long story ceases to be a story the moment it becomes boring.  People will lose interest and move on.  When in doubt, keep your stories short as possible while still conveying all of the information.

3. Likable character

Characters can be and should be flawed because this is what makes them real.  Nobody is perfect and it’s hard to identify with a perfect character.  Your character also needs to be likeable because you want your audience to be pulling for them to succeed.  Let your audience see your character evolve and go through an array of emotions.  Nothing is more disappointing than a static character.  As stated in the first technique, don’t tell us who your character is, show us.

4. There should be a plot

A plot serves as the guiding force in your story.  It helps ensure there is a beginning, middle, and end and all of the fun stuff in between.  This is important because it makes your audience feel comfortable and allows them to focus on other aspects of your story.  Also, a good ending will provide your audience with closure.  Leaving your character clinging to the edge of the cliff is only acceptable if you are setting yourself up for the next chapter.

5. Foreshadowing

Nothing is more exciting to a listener or reader than realizing that the storyteller or author is revealing clues throughout the story.  This is a great way to keep your audience engaged in your tale.

6. Keep the dialogue real

This is important because as a listener or a reader, we are immediately distracted when something sounds off, cliché, or is just out of place.  A good way to check and see if your dialogue sounds good is to read it aloud.  Often times, this is an easy way to pick-up on words that are disruptive to our ears.

7. Conflict

If everybody is happy-go-lucky and the sun is shining then what is the purpose of telling the story in the first place?  Stories are about conflict and trying to overcome it.  Will the main character succeed?  How will the conflict be resolved?  This is the reason your audience will stay engaged.  Stories can have more than one conflict too.  Try weaving smaller conflicts into various points of the story to support an overarching conflict.

8. Use a model

There are many common narratives most stories follow.  These include the hero’s journey, the coming of age tale, and an anecdote.  Try taking a common narrative and applying it to your own story.  You may find that it serves as the perfect foundation.

9. Add a personal touch

Whether you are telling a story to pitch a product or to entertain, consider adding a personal touch.  A personal touch will give your pitch the “real” factor.  This can be delivered in the form of a testimonial.  If you are creating a story to entertain, draw on your own life experiences to add to the story.  This will make your story feel more authentic. Learn how to record and tell your life story with this course.

10. Point of View

If you find your story lacking, try changing your point of view.  Third person point of views tend to be the most common.  Try telling your story from a first person point of view.  Maybe we are seeing things from the point of view of a small child or an animal who doesn’t fully understand everything that is happening around them.  Experiment with point of view to bring an exciting edge to your story.

11. Start with a bang!

Get your audience involved right away by starting your story with a bang.  Try opening with a mystery, in the middle of your story, or from a distance.  If it doesn’t feel right, don’t worry.  You can always go back and tweak the beginning once you finish your story.

12. Know what you are trying to convey

What is the purpose of this story?  Is it to entertain?  To relay a message?  To teach a lesson?  Whatever your purpose of telling your story is, keep it in the forefront of your mind as you are going.

13. The delivery

You have constructed the perfect story, now how are you going to deliver it?  Are you going to write it down for people to read to themselves, is it meant to be read aloud by others, or will you be telling your story verbally to others?  The final delivery method matters.  You might have to change your story up a bit to ensure it is being told in the most beneficial manner.

Summary

Learning to tell a good story is the best tool you can employ.  The power of storytelling will allow you to lead by engaging people on why they should want to change either themselves or their world and how they can do it.  Everyone has a story to tell.  Practice these storytelling techniques by telling your own compelling story.  If you are interested in transitioning your story into a screenplay, try this course on screenplay writing from award winning writer, Jeffrey Alan Schechter.