Have you ever landed on a website and then struggled to figure out what the heck they’re trying to tell you (or sell you) on the site?
So after all of 20 seconds, you’re out of there, never to come back again.
Or you meet someone new and they ask you “What do you do?” And you spend the next 10 minutes yammering and yacking while the poor soul’s eyes glaze over.
Once the person recovers, do you think they’re likely to remember you? Or even consider doing business with you? Not.
So plays out the disease of the “muddy marketing message.” And worse yet, the syndrome of “dopey marketing message delivery.”
It’s a pandemic problem because most entrepreneurs aren’t taught or ever learn how to structure and deliver their marketing communications in a way that captivates and engages their audience — whether it’s an audience of one or one thousand.
But there’s a solution to this problem that’s so simple that you’re going to wonder why no one taught this to you before…
Throughout the history of mankind, stories have great power to educate, to inspire, to motivate, to engage, to entertain, and to influence.
The magic of movies lies in their power to evoke emotions and challenge established points of view.
Literature, music, and art do the same by telling stories, just in different formats.
So what do you think might happen if you wove dramatic story structure into your conversations, writing, and presentations?
Inspiring Enthusiasm and Support for Your Vision
In her book, Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences, Nancy Duarte describes how to “inspire enthusiasm and support for your vision” by using the power of visual presentations. The principles she describes apply equally well to written and oral communications. In fact, she draws on examples from music, literature, and the performing arts to illustrate these principles.
Nancy describes a pattern to effective stories, what she calls a “contour of communication”: Of course, great stories have a clear beginning, middle, and end. And, they include two clear “turning points” that draw our interest and attention from the beginning of the story into the middle of it, and from the middle of the story into the dramatic conclusion.
Sadly, most great ideas – even those with the potential to save lives and transform the world — die before fruition because of a weak story behind it; what gets communicated to people frequently lacks clarity, structure, and order. At best, it’s boring. At worst, it’s repulsive. Either way, you can’t bore or confuse anyone into buying from you.
So if you want to grow your business, the place to start is to craft and tell a bigger, more inspiring story.
A “sparkline” is a type of information graphic that allows you to visually “see” the structure and form of a presentation. In Resonate, Nancy Duarte details the sparkline for Martin Luther King’s rousing “I Have A Dream” speech. This sparkline shows you the “contour of communication” that Dr. King used: the timeline for when he was speaking and repeating key phrases, using metaphors and visual words, and referring to familiar songs, scripture, and literature. The sparkline also shows you how and when the audience was responding with different degrees of applause and cheering.
To view an example of a sparkline, click here.
To help you appreciate how the sparkline looks and works, I’ll take you through the key elements of a generic sparkline in the video below.
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Audience Engagement Is the Name of The Game
You can continue to “speak at” your audience. Or you can engage with your audience.
If you want to engage with your audience, if you want to get your audience to rally behind your ideas and vision, then you’ll need to tell stories about who you are and what you stand for. And you must do this in a way that your audience can find where they fit in your story.
Study the “sparkline.” Practice using this presentation form for your next article, your next important conversation, your next teleseminar or webinar.
In his book, Believe Me: A Storytelling Manifesto for Change-Makers and Innovators, my good friend and colleague Michael Margolis says “People don’t really buy your product, solution, or idea, they buy the stories that are attached to it.”
In just 88 pages, Michael deftly describes “why your vision, brand, and leadership need a bigger story” and codifies 15 storytelling axioms for going about crafting it. Michael’s book is a solid resource for learning how to tell a bigger story. I highly recommend it and you can download the digital version for free at: http://www.believemethebook.com/
Storytelling: The Keys to the Kingdom
Being an effective communicator gives you the keys to the kingdom when it comes to thought-leadership, social change and transformation, and successful marketing and selling. It gives you the power to influence, to transform, and to effect change.
When you incorporate the power of story into your conversations, written material, and visual presentations, you connect and engage with your intended audience in meaningful, lasting ways.
Let’s face it: On top of all the other things you need to handle and master as an entrepreneur, adding one more important thing to your plate is about the last thing you need right now. Yet, mastering the art and science of visual storytelling is a skill and asset that pays dividends in all aspects of your personal and professional life.
And there’s no better time to start telling a new story than right now!