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aardmaan blog - The art of storytelling

The art of storytelling

Published January 24, 2008 by Gillian Hunter

Storytelling is the most powerful tool we have as communicators. It is the most ancient of art forms and goes right to the heart of what makes us human.

The art of storytelling hasn't changed, but the possibilities have. We're now able to tell stories in ways we haven't before. So what's changed? Everything has! Media, communities, social networks, technology.

As Penguin's We Tell Stories demonstrate, we can now tell stories in ways we couldn't a couple of years ago. Authors are using tools such as Google Maps, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, author collaboration, live writing, and audience interactivity to tell stories in new and exciting ways.

As the Penguin site says: "These stories could not have been written, 200, 20 or even 2 years ago." But, this is just the beginning ...

Why should we be interested in story telling? We all love stories. They engage us in ways that other forms of communication don't. Businesses often need to communicate complex ideas. Using a linear and factual approach does not help understanding. For one it is boring.

But critically, you are forcing people to think very hard about a subject ... to see a connection.

In an age when people are short on time, have short attention spans, and want to understand things quickly ... stories provide a shortcut. It stimulates the imagination and lets people see the connection between abstract ideas and real life. It's how we share new and empowering ideas.

Stories are also much more memorable ... and more likely to initiate a response.

Why is storytelling important? It is an integral part of the human experience It passes on the essence of who we are It is an active - not a passive experience. It provides meaning and enhances understanding. We learn more about ourselves and others from stories.

Writing is more important than ever ... it's the invisible foundation of new media communications. It takes real skill and ability to conjure ideas with words, images, characters and integrate across multiple media - and come across as authentic and real.