How to Share Your Story In A Way That Teaches and Inspires
We all know that person. He wants to tell you an “amazing” story that will change your life, but the only thing that has changed about your life is that you lost fifteen minutes (which really felt like fifteen hours) that you will never get back. He drones on and on about something that has nothing to do with your life, and, to make matters worse, it isn’t even remotely entertaining.
You don’t want to be that person.
Instead, you want to tell a story that keeps your readers at the edge of their seats. More importantly, you want to educate and inspire them.
Easier said than done, huh?
I fortunately have five tips that will make you more Ferris Bueller and less Ben Stein when it comes to storytelling.
1. Know Your Audience
I think the fastest way to engage your audience is to, well, know them. How do you do that? You talk to them. If you know them in “real life,” set up a coffee date (yes, you should treat) and ask them questions about what they need or want. Talk to them about their favorite things and what is important to them. If they live far away, set up a virtual coffee date via Skype (you can send a Starbucks gift card instead). Once you know what they care about, you will be able to tell a story they care about. Bonus points if you are able to use their exact words.
2. Remember Your Purpose
It is nearly impossible to ramble if you remember why you are writing. If you are telling a story with the goal to teach people how to quit their jobs to take their business full-time, suddenly your story about your Corgi’s Halloween costume seems, well, irrelevant. If you remind yourself what the point of your story is, you will stay on track.
3. Create an Outline
Another key way to not get distracted and stay engaging is to create an outline. Yes, I hear you groaning as you remember the boring ones you had to create for school for years. It doesn’t have to be boring! You can use colorful Post-It notes or a fun software program (I love Scrivener and Evernote) to make your outline. If you have a structure for your story in advance, your story will inspire your reader because every part has a purpose and a place.
4. Imagine One Person
If you want the reader to really feel like you are talking directly to him or her, tell the story as if you were addressing one person. I know this is counterintuitive: how can more people relate if you just focus on an individual? It is because your writing will instantly be more detailed and concrete because you are focused. You are not imagining talking to a faceless crowd; you are talking to a person with feelings and interests. It won’t matter if you picture writing your young son; an elderly woman will still relate to it.
This is nobody’s favorite part, but it is the most essential. If you want an engaging story, you have to edit it. By editing your story, you will figure out where to expand and where to cut to make the pacing perfect. Also, you will remove glaring errors that will pull the reader out of narrative.
There you have it! If you implement these tips, you will have your audience begging for more instead of snoring at their desks.
Images courtesy of Unsplash.