What is the storytelling question I’m asked most often? Weekly, maybe even daily people ask me “how do I a share a concise, moving story?”
I’m passionate about sharing stories about the impact of your work. They help to cause listeners and readers to do MORE when you tell a well-crafted story. But, I’m pretty adamant that the story shared should be two minutes or less.
Here are 10 tips for keeping a story concise while still inspiring your readers or listeners:
1. Follow this simple arc of storytelling by putting 30 seconds worth of words to each of the three steps.
2. Remember you are telling a story and NOT giving a report.
3. Choose your words carefully. Use descriptive words. (gnarled hands instead of has arthritis.)
4. Tell the story to someone aged 10 or younger. You’ll tell the story differently and it will be more engaging.
5. Answer this question before you start to tell your story: What is it that I want people to feel about the person I’m going to talk about? Jot down those descriptive, emotionally connecting words and work them into the story. (i.e. scared for their safety, hungry to learn, felt ashamed, overwhelmed, weary to the bone…)
6. The details, tiny nuggets of information, make a story more compelling.
7. Do NOT think you have to share EVERY single thing about the person you are talking about. Just share a snippet of something they said that made you pause. Or share the way someone looked just before something big happened to them.
8. Less is more. Cause the listener or reader to want to know the ending. . . and more! Sharing a short, powerful example of your work will cause others to ask you a question about the person you are talking about.
9. Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but the truth is, while the words are important, it’s your passion in recounting the story that matters.
10. Practice will take a long, drawn out, ho hum story to something different IF you notice where people are inspired while you are talking.
To give you an idea of how to do this here’s an example from the Complete Storytelling System of a ho hum story that is more like a “report” along with the edited, more compelling story: The “story” is still less than 2 minutes, but it’s more inspiring and has more details: