The irresistible power of strategic storytelling

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Last weekend I held my first storytelling workshop in my hometown at #WCBGD. I was flattered to see over 50 people at my workshop, and in this post I want to share with you what my workshop is all about, as well as some of the student’s impressions.

So, let’s uncover the mystery. Why are strategic stories so irresistibly powerful?

Devana labs, Storytelling Workshop 14/05/17, photo by Ivan Gatic

My way to Storytelling

When I was a young girl my favorite time of the day was bedtime, because it meant that my father would ring up and tell me a story over the phone. But, his stories were no ordinary stories. He didn’t read to me, he actually created stories with me. I would pick a few objects like soap or a toothbrush, and we would co-create a story based on these characters. Was the toothbrush jealous of the soap, because he was closer to the sink? Did the soap have existential angst, because with every use he was getting smaller? All of this taught me to empathize with people, to understand the importance of communication, and to be able to look at things from another person’s perspective. How is this helpful? Well it’s the most important skill that I use in my job today.

Today, I work in PR and content marketing, speaking to customers (potential customers), engineers, marketers, CEO’s and tech lovers about our product, our company culture and reputation. I find that most of the time, people already know the “tech spec“, they know the quality of our product and the one thing holding them back is that they want a story. They want to get to know us. So, I tell them our story.

Stories in the Business of Marketing

So why are stories so effective? Now, this isn’t a novel idea, and I am certainly not the first (or the last) to harness the power of storytelling, but it’s relatively new in the business industry. Stories are not just in the heart they are also in the head. They have a science to them. For those who believe that stories are “fluff “, you are wrong. They draw you in and make you feel, whether you want it or not. How? Well, it’s all in the hormones. Good stories cause you to release two hormones; Oxytocin and Cortisol. Cortisol, increases our focus, so the story grabs your attention. Oxytocin, on the other hand, causes us to empathize with others. So, what do we have, we have the customer’s attention and we have their empathy. But, if you don’t believe me, believe Paul Zak, a neuroscientist that goes by the nickname of Dr. Love. In his Ted talk he explores the idea of trust and morality, and their connection to Oxytocin.

Or rather listen to one of the greats.

If history were taught in the form of stories it would never be forgotten – Kipling, author of the Jungle Book

Understanding the power of stories is one thing, but quite the other being able to use it in marketing.

Workshop Breakdown

My workshop aims to educate about the effectiveness of storytelling in business, and it does this firstly by explaining the science behind it. My aim is to encourage my students to go home and be ready to take the first step in storytelling. So, how do we do this? We learn in three stages;

  •  How to write an engaging story
  • How to tailor your story for your target audience
  • How to use stories in content marketing

Story structure is key to helping your customer understand what you are all about. This course will cover, how to find your story, how to craft one, and all of the different ways of telling it. That’s right, writing and blogging is only one of the many ways you can share your stories. Framing your story to your target audience is equally important – because who you are writing for dictates your style, tone, vocabulary etc. Finally, we put the theory into practice at the workshop itself. The participants get to create a case study that put’s a story in content marketing.

What the students had to say

Here are a few snippets of stories written about the workshop by some of the participants.

The energy in the room was great. In an interesting way, she taught us how to learn things about others from their stories. All you need to do is to listen. – Alena, Rastko, Mihajlo, Djuka & Kristina

 

Some old ideas about storytelling were just upgraded with new. Since humans exist, there is a need for storytelling. But, telling a good story is about how to tell it well. – Vlada, Milena, Marija & Vanja

Anastasios (you might know him as CrowdedTent) put together a video for me that captures the atmosphere of the workshop and certainly has some Serbian flavour. Thank you and enjoy the music.

Come and share your story with us

This workshop won’t teach you how to be a professional writer. However, it will give you an understanding of storytelling, and how you can apply your storytelling skills to marketing. When you finish your presentation, your product sale or your email marketing campaign, the one thing everyone will remember is your story. Come and share yours at the next workshop.

Stay tuned for when and where the next workshop will take place.

Related videos by students:

About the author

Nevena

I like stories, and talking to people. I work in PR and Digital Marketing, and when I am not working you can find me skiing, running or trying to do acro yoga. Hope you like my blog.

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What others are saying about me

Very informative, eye-opening and interesting workshop! Being in the same business like Nevena, it’s always good to share experiences and...

Ivana Ćirković, Digital Marketing consultant and owner of KickStart.rs digital marketing agency

2017-09-18T11:00:34+00:00

Ivana Ćirković, Digital Marketing consultant and owner of KickStart.rs digital marketing agency

Very informative, eye-opening and interesting workshop! Being in the same business like Nevena, it’s always good to share experiences and learn something new from the field and she sure delivered!

I went to Nevena’s workshop with a bit of skepticism and didn’t expect much to come out of it. Not...

Sabina Ionescu, COO at Themeisle

2017-09-13T16:04:44+00:00

Sabina Ionescu, COO at Themeisle

I went to Nevena’s workshop with a bit of skepticism and didn’t expect much to come out of it. Not sure how she did it, but Nevena managed to get a whole crowd’s attention and involvement.What I liked most is that she made us think.

Nevena's workshop was full of positive energy and words were flying all over the place. I am thrilled with the...

Rahela Lončarić, Freelancer - Digital Marketing Specialist at Online Reflection

2017-09-12T15:58:43+00:00

Rahela Lončarić, Freelancer - Digital Marketing Specialist at Online Reflection

Nevena's workshop was full of positive energy and words were flying all over the place. I am thrilled with the energy of this woman and with how much passion and speed she can tell a story, and she does it without blinking. Fascinating experience and I realized how much more I have to practice.

I must say, I did not know that I need to pay attention to so many details! Nevena taught me...

Milos Mihaljevic, ManageWP Customer Happiness Team Lead

2017-09-13T14:44:57+00:00

Milos Mihaljevic, ManageWP Customer Happiness Team Lead

I must say, I did not know that I need to pay attention to so many details! Nevena taught me how to divert a reader's attention and to put focus on specific parts. Oh and the amount of energy that she possesses!!

I discovered a potential within myself for the important virtue of storytelling, feels truly rewarding.

Daniela Marušić Gajica, Human Resources Supervisor South East Europe SEE Region, 3M

2017-09-12T15:31:48+00:00

Daniela Marušić Gajica, Human Resources Supervisor South East Europe SEE Region, 3M

I discovered a potential within myself for the important virtue of storytelling, feels truly rewarding.

Nevena

I like stories, and talking to people. I work in PR and Digital Marketing, and when I am not working you can find me skiing, running or trying to do acro yoga. Hope you like my blog.

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If you want to get in touch with me and chat more DM me on twitter or leave me a comment on one of my posts. Thanks!