So, what exactly makes a good story?  Watch the video below and we’ll continue the conversation after.

Wow!  What a poem by Jimmy Stewart.  I wanted to use that video as an example. To me, that poem included everything that makes a great story.

The reasons this video is so powerful because:

  1. It is humorous.
  2. It is compelling.
  3. It is personal.
  4. It has an emotional connection.
  5. It is memorable.

Great stores use humor.

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people” – Victor Borge

Using humor in a story can break down walls between yourself and your audience.   A humorous story at the start of your presentation can put the audience at ease.  Something about laughter can disarm preconceived notions that one may have about your writing or your presentation.  Humor also can add contrast to your story later.

In the video, you’ll notice Jimmy Stewart starts with humorous facts about his dog that gets the audience involved and listening.  He jokes about how his dog was a real “man-eater”, and how the delivery boy was his favorite prey.  This laughter sets up the contrast for the ending of the story.

Being able to use a humorous story in your article or blog post can be a effective way to draw readers in and  help  connecting them to your main point.  Telling a “this happened to me” funny story can be a great way to introduce a point and also personalize yourself to your audience.

Using humor in your in social media can be tricky business.  Trying to be funny in 140 characters on Twitter is an art form.  You can show a little of your funny bone on social media.  People want to interact with a person rather than a brand.  Make sure your posts are appropriate for your audience and see if adding some humor helps.  This can be effective in the comments section when you have already established a relationship with people online.   Being able to have some fun with others in your comment stream is a great way to show people who are reading your comments that you are someone they would enjoy getting content from.

Great Stories are compelling. 

A story about a dog is almost as American as Apple Pie.  Especially when Jimmy Stewart tells it.  In America, most people have had a dog or have been around other people who have had dogs as pets.  The story compelled us to listen to it because of our shared experience with dogs.

If you started watching the video above, I can almost bet ALL of you watched it until the end.  You wanted to hear how that poem ended.  It was compelling.  The laughter disarmed you, and the topic of a family dog drew you in.  You began to internalize the story.

How can you draw your readers in to your story?  Are you spending enough time crafting your article titles?  I wonder how many great articles I didn’t read because the title didn’t catch my eye?  I know I’ve read many mediocre articles that had caught my eye with an incredible blog title.  Many experts say that you should spend as much, if not more time crafting your article title as your actual post.

Are people reading your articles to the end? If not, why?  Many people blame powerpoint for the death of storytelling in business.  The fact is many blog posts are just as bland.  It’s a lot easier to come up with bullet points, skimmable paragraphs, and infographics, than to come up with a compelling story.  Start studying life around you.  What’s around you that would help you create a compelling story?

Great stories are personal.

Jimmie Stewart was sharing a story about his beloved dog. This wasn’t an actor talking about a role, or how “It’s a Wonderful Life” was made.  This was a person, who was sharing an intimate part of his life..  It gave us a glimpse of who the real Jimmie Stewart was and how he lived.  He sprinkled points of connection throughout the story.  He mentioned going on walks, going to bed early, and dealing with a difficult dog – touch points that showed how a famous actor was human just like the rest of us.

There’s a great debate on how much we should share on social media, especially if it’s related to our business.  We all have that friend who “shares to0 much” or that Facebook friend we unfriended because we didn’t care to hear about every time they worked out at the gym.  There is a balance.

Here’s an example.  I’m active on Pinterest and I’ve had some great success with it.  I pin things that have to do with my business.  Infographics and articles on social media,  Facebook, Twitter, Google+, small business, etc.  But I also pin stuff that interests me.  Geeky stuff, Manly food, Hangouts I watch, Lifehacks, things that appeal to me as a person.  This has let my followers know that I have other interests, and they can have other connection points with me.

Balancing personal and professional life is a necessary skill on social media.

Great Stories appeal to our emotions.

“Great stories don’t appeal to logic, but they often appeal to our senses.” -Seth Godin.

That quote by Seth Godin is so true.  We remember the stories that make us laugh and/or pull at our heartstrings.  You’ll remember this story because it moved you.

In the Jimmy Stewart story, there was a emotional connection.  Death. Death is a reality in all our lives,  whether it be the death of a dog, a parent, or ourselves.  We don’t want to talk about it, but we all know that we are going to have to deal with it.  That was a point of connection in that story.

Are you thinking of your readers emotions when you are writing your articles?  What do you want your readers to feel when they are done reading?  We use industry terms like “call to action” and “click throughs” but what causes those “calls to action” to work?  There needs to be an emotional connection.  It can be as simple as “I want to find out more information about this product.”  or “this guy is writes in a humorous style, I think I’ll sign up for his newsletter.”  The emotional connection in writing stories cannot be overlooked.

Great stories are memorable.

I have a feeling that after watching that story you’ll remember that Jimmie Stewart had a dog he loved named Beau.  Memorable stories are usually human stories that people can relate to.  Your audience needs to take a journey with your story and identify with the characters.  Memorable moments in your story leave lasting impressions.

Think of the last Super Bowl commercials.  The most popular was one that featured a puppy and a horse. If you’ve seen it, you’ll instantly know what I am talking about.  That was an excellent example of a memorable video.  It had all the elements of a unforgettable story, and it didn’t even have the brand’s product in the commercial except for the logo at the end.   That powerful story will always be associated with Budweiser and their branding.

Most of you reading this will not have the budget to create a viral video like the Budweiser Clydesdales for your blog or small business.  You can, however, think about how to make your content memorable.  If you can arm your leads and clients with a great story about your brand or services you can make it easier for them to recount your story to others in the future.

Two ways to share knowledge.

You can push information out or you can pull them in with a story.

Maybe we need to start thinking about ourselves as storytellers instead of content creators.