The ability to communicate with your audience is crucial to every business. Your employees, your customers, and your potential audience all have the need to understand what your company offers in the marketplace.
The engagement of consumers with a simple idea is not a new concept, nor does it belong solely to marketers. The art of storytelling has long been central to society’s growth. As individuals, we might remember a terrifying story told to us as a youth, sitting around a campfire at summer camp. Others may remember a writer who evokes warm and cuddly feelings speaking of their first kiss. Be it terror or passion, the emotional component of the story is an element that often binds a narrative to our long-term memory.
We speak to our family, to our children, and to our peers with words meant to evoke a response. Whether we are writers, software designers, digital strategists, or graphic artists, we are all storytellers. The complexity of our stories differs from project to project, client to client. In the end, we ask only one thing – “remember my message.”
If we are all shooting for the same goal, how do we stand out from the crowd? How do we send a message that is cleaner and more memorable than the competition? Emotion is one component that makes for an extraordinary story. However, knowing with whom you are speaking is incredibly important. A few gray hairs have provided me with these insights:
- The K.I.S.S. Rule (AKA – Keep It Simple Stupid)
Try to keep your message focused. If you stray from the core of your message, you will lose your customer. Don’t fall victim to chasing ideas down a rabbit-hole. A creative environment allows for the creation of details. If those details are not kept in check, they can often dilute the original message.
- Understand your audience
Be sure you understand your audience during this process. Be certain that you truly know your customer’s wants, needs, desires, and goals. If you just offer a message without focusing on the needs of your audience, there’s a good chance you’ll miss your mark.
- Engage your audience
Communication is an interactive exchange of information between two or more people. This function requires a living, breathing relationship between those parties. Be sure that when you offer information to the next party, that they understand both the content and context of that information.
- Don’t speak beyond your “voice”
As storytellers, we need to speak to our audience authoritatively. If a storyteller uses words, concepts, or ideas that are beyond their grasp, the audience will lose faith in the validity of the writer’s words. Readers have an amazing ability to identify rubbish when they see it. If you have to present an idea that is beyond your intellectual grasp, education, or base of life experience, attribute that idea to someone who possesses those skills. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. If you have to discuss theoretical physics, don’t BS your way through it. Offer a hyperlink to someone who is qualified to speak on that subject matter. For example, I’m not a theoretical physicist, but this team at UC Berkeley is pretty comfortable discussing these concepts. In short, you take a potential liability in your writing and create an asset by providing proper attribution to your sources.
Storytelling has been deeply engrained in the human experience for thousands of years. If you visit the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi, there you will discover the earliest known cave paintings. The images on the cave walls date back an estimated 40,000 years. These are the earliest visual stories known to be told by humans. The basic storytelling elements employed during this window in history remain the same today. Communicate an idea that can be clearly understood by your audience.
Sharing your thoughts in a context that is recognized by your audience is crucial to successful storytelling. As business leaders, you provide a material good or service that is desired by the consumer. Before they can appreciate your offerings, they must first be able to understand your story. You, in turn, must be willing to listen to what they are saying to you – not what you think they are saying. If you have any questions about reaching out to your customer base, contact Colure’s team to help you hit your mark.