As a Story/Career Consultant I am constantly designing frameworks and tools to help people understand how to tell their story in a way that results in their audience feeling their message. There is no better feeling than when a story resonates in a way that strikes an emotional chord and makes you understand and feel the message at a core level. After working in the entertainment business for 20 years, I am still fascinated with why some stories work and others do not. By story, I am referring to any story being told on TV, in film, theater, and in real life. I have come to believe that the way we tell our story or stories equates to our success on so many levels, both in our professional and personal lives.
When you learn how to utilize tools that will enhance your story, you increase your chances of connecting with your audience. The key to telling a strong story is allowing us into your vision. Here is one of the frameworks I’ve designed to help you achieve maximum results with the stories you tell.
- What are you trying to say? Is your message universal?
- Do you build a powerful starting dilemma and will the dilemma in your story resonate with your audience?
- Do you establish the “Why now?” for entering your story when you do?
- What thematic question are you debating?
- What is the central character in pursuit of? What does he/she want? Why does he/she want it? Why do we empathize with him/her?
- What is getting in the way of the pursuit? What is at stake if he/she does not achieve the goal?
- Is the goal achieved?
- Did your central character grow and move from ego to spirit in the process?
One of the most common errors made in storytelling in general is a lack of clarity in what is being said. What is your central character in pursuit of? Do we understand the message? Are you taking your audience in a direction that will allow them to connect with your intention and apply it to their own lives?
Does the starting dilemma provoke an emotional response from your audience? Have they faced a similar dilemma or can they see themselves facing the dilemma? Are the two sides of the dilemma equally as difficult to choose from? Does the choice made by your character make us (the audience) root for the outcome?
Do you establish the “Why now?” for entering your story when you do? This is often triggered by an event that happens. This brings your audience into the heat of the moment establishing why we are entering your story when we are.
What is the thematic question you are debating? This can involve taking a stance on one side of an issue in order to get a point across. Your story should support the point you are trying to make. This links to what you are trying to say.
Here is one of the most important questions I ask my clients and others I work with: what does your central character want? My next question: why do they want it? The reason so many people have difficulty conveying what their central character wants is because they don’t know what they want in their own life. This is why I encourage my clients and my audience to do the emotional work. When you do the emotional work in life, you help clarify what you want and why you want it. When you clarify what you want, it helps you define what your character wants in the stories you tell.
What is getting in the way of your central character’s pursuit of the goal? One of the most important parts of any story is having strong obstacles that escalate and clear stakes that also escalate as a result of the obstacles faced. When we understand what is at stake, we root for the success of the central character in achieving his/her goal. The external stakes arc is often one of the key things that could be strengthened in the stories we tell
Does your central character achieve the goal? What is revealed in the achievement? How did your central character move from ego to spirit in the process? Moving from ego to spirit is a large part of what I teach. In the beginning, we often want to achieve a goal for ego-related reasons; the attainment signifies validation. After hitting a number of obstacles and escalating obstacles, we are often humbled. When we are humbled, we begin to awaken to how we are approaching the goal. When we move from ego to spirit, we learn that the achievement of the goal isn’t just about us: it can affect the greater good. When we do this, we evolve. Stories illustrate the journey of our evolution.
I’m happy to have shared with you some of the tools I use to help people understand how to tell their story in a way that will have a maximum affect on their audience. If you tell your story from a place of depth, the authenticity of your message will resonate with your audience and beyond.