People talk about story everywhere. It’s infused in our vocabulary and current jargon. Some of this is real and some of this is hype. Marketers and agencies often talk story and provide nothing close. Some have the right intent when talking story, but just don’t have a clue as to the true sense of the word.
In market research, the realm of much of my day job experience, we seek the “story” in the data and try to weave that into our results. The audience, however, is rarely interested in story. More often than not, they insist on bullet after bullet stating what portion of the sample said this or said that. They demand histogram after histogram because anything new or that works to paint the picture of multiple data points in one image is something they cannot get their heads around. Then they wonder why they are bored and find no value in the results beyond serving as a door stop in their office.
When, in fact, story could have saved the day – made the results understandable and digestible. Actionable and engaging.
But that’s another story.
Companies that claim to have a “focus” on story are cropping up all around, and that focus is often different for each company. A quick Google search yields:
- Bring Hollywood visual effects experience to your stories
- Communication training for business leaders
- Story marketing
- Success stories
- YouTube – “Tell your story”
- Free fables to use in business, writing, and speeches
…on just part of the first page.
Nick Potter, founder of StoryPot in New Zealand, posted recently on what this all might mean. His main focus: that stories are humanizing. That they bring a personal touch to our overly technological existence.
What makes a story more than just a narrative—how we make sense of the world—is that there’s life in it. Working with stories requires embracing the complexity of humans in all our messy, brilliant beauty. We have to muddle through this complexity with as much clarity as we can muster.
I agree and want to take it a step further. Stories are valuable not only because they bring a bit of life and personality to our days, but also because they provide an avenue to connect with others. Storychick centers on the value of stories to make connections – to bring people together and make the world a bit better through that.
There is a lot of story hype out there, learn to see through it. Embrace metaphor and narrative over histograms of boredom. There are people pursuing many varied applications of the tool. Permeating the world with story isn’t a bad thing – realize the potential of what it can do.