#47 How story works: Key elements of a story

#47 How story works - key elements in a story -Building a modern employer brand podcast with Susanna Rantanen

There are a certain elements of a story that make the written or spoken words into the story format that impacts our brain like explained in episode 45.

The art of storytelling is as much as art, as it is science.

Even though we wrote 200 pages, it still does not mean those 200 pages form a story.

What I’ve learned over the years of studying stories and storytelling is that how the story works is based on the organization and repetition of story elements.

Key elements in a story

What is your favourite movie or a book?

The one you have watched a thousand times, and never get bored of it?

The book you don’t want to put down, because you want to stay in the bubble the story provides you?

Most of us has that favourite movie or a book we immediately think about when someone asks about it.

Why is it that some stories make a lasting impact on us, when others you want to give up on after a few minutes?

The answer is in the story elements.

  • Characters in the story.
  • Conflicts, trials and tribulations.
  • The plan how to win the enemy and save the world.
  • The struggle to overcome the enemy.
  • The end resolution.

Every good story uses the story elements in a same way

Every story has a storyline. A storyline is a sequence of events, twists and turns that raise your pulse, and make you feel all sorts of emotions as you experience the storyline.

For a story to be good, as in getting the audiences attention and making the audience to feel strong emotions as they experience the story, story elements must be used.

A two-hour movie has more elements than a 15 minute keynote or a career story published on your company blog.

Nevertheless, the elements are there for the science of a story to take place. The science is how a story impacts our brain.

My favourite story is not necessarily your favourite too

My husband and I don’t share the same taste in many stories. For example, he enjoys science fiction when I have no taste for it. We mutually share a fancy towards detective stories. I guess we both like to be the hero who solves the crime!

This is a really important lesson to remember.

When you use storytelling in business communication, you must know what angle is the most relevant to the audience you are telling the story to. Even though the story is the same, the angle is often very different depending on the audience.

This is because we may all relate to the events in a story very different ways.

When you get bored with a movie, a new TV series or a book you just started, it is because it doesn’t immediately make sense to you. The storyline fails to be relevant to you.

How to make a business story relevant to the audience

Here are the top tips I ever learned and I continue to use when I use story in my business communication:

(1) Even though I tell the story, it is not my story. My story is relevant to me only. If I want it to be relevant to you, I need to make the story I tell about you.

(2) If I want you to listen to me, I need to tell your story in a way that position myself as someone who you trust to listen to and take advice from.

(3) How I start the story dictates whether you want to keep listening to me. That’s why we put a book down and never pick it up again. Or why we change the movie we started to something “more exciting”. The first 10-20 seconds need to set the course for the story, or you’ll lose your interest. Addressing a problem or a pain you feel too is a great way to start. The same applies to business stories.

(4) If you start with the problem, suggest a solution too. Otherwise you leave your audience hanging. They’ll turn to someone else for the solution.

(5) Every story must have a lot of conflict to be a really good story. Conflict gets your emotions wild, and that’s how you connect with the story. Essential!

DOWNLOAD this free eBook: “The Method: Business Storytelling to Match Talent Minds with Your Mission.”

Now I invite you to listen to this podcast-episode where I speak more about the anatomy of a story.

Podcast-episode 47

In this week’s episode 47 of Building a Modern Employer Brand -podcast I finalize the “miniseries” about stories with the anatomy of a story, and how the story works when the story elements are used in a narrative. And this works just as well in business communication and talent marketing.

Episode-length: 35:09 min

The previous episodes of this three-part miniseries about storytelling:

#45 Why our brains need a good story?

#46 What is business storytelling?

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