Open-book conversation leads to better storytelling.
Storytelling Content Creation

Good Stories Are Co-Created Through Conversation

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We hear a lot about stories today and how these narratives play out in the business world. People attempt to monetize good storytelling, putting a price on content creation and how well a message is conveyed.

And while quality writers deserve recognition for their work, it takes more than editorial prowess to capture a crowd’s attention. For starters, you must have the ability to hold a conversation and communicate with your peers.

The more we focus on telling our story, the less likely we are to take a step back and listen to others. However, a great story pulls readers or listeners in through a relatable plotline. The story is not to be experienced by an individual, but by a massive audience.

So for all of us to do better at content marketing, we must improve our communication skills. Let’s review some essentials and how these qualities can play into future content creation programs.

Listen and Think Before You Talk

The best stories blend several narratives, which is why breaking news content always includes several sources. Before you talk, allow a story to unfold in front of you, think about the value you can add, and then speak. The more you understand about the people you’re conversing with, the smarter you’ll sound.

Act Human

When it is your turn to talk, don’t sound like a corporation. Most of the time we’re urged to be crisply professional in front of clients, but from my experience, the more barriers you put up, the less powerful the conversation becomes. Brands struggle with acting human, and so do professionals. Remember that a good story always includes a human element.

Ask Good Questions

A good conversation is one that continues to flow without feeling forced. But a personal story will hit a wall without any prompts. As the listener, be sure to ask your audience questions. This will help pull out the small, important details from people and create a well-rounded narrative. If you don’t ask any questions, you may never learn about your audience.

Add Value

You’ve spent time listening to your audience, asking them questions, and personalizing the conversation, but now it’s time to add value. If you don’t have anything thoughtful to add at first, admit that up front. Tell your listeners that you’re still discovering your stance on that topic. This may forfeit some of your authority, or it may show that you genuinely care about how you’re perceived. This may be easier to do as a person than as a brand. The best advice I can offer to brands is to not embed yourself in conversations that you can’t carry.

Remember Key Points

A story is never told just one time. People love to interact with their peers and talk about their experiences, and you’ll likely find yourself picking up where you left off with your audience at some point. Do you have a process for remembering key points—viewpoints from a broader audience, as well as influencers? If you plan to engage regularly with people both online and offline, make sure you know how to turn talking points into ongoing conversations. Here are two strategies:

  • For a broad audience: Turn core talking points, challenges, victories, wins, and losses into blog content. Show that you listened to your audience, related to them in a personable way, and then added value to the conversation through content creation.
  • For individuals: Take notes after every conversation. If you’re courting an influential base of consultants, marketers, artists, or creatives to work with you on branded projects, it isn’t a sin to take a second after each chat and organize your thoughts. Trust me, this will only help you progress collaborative programs at a much faster rate. For more influencer marketing advice, see our interview with Traackr CEO Pierre-Loic Assayag.

Storytelling Starts with Conversations

We’re all storytellers. We tell our loved ones about our days after our 9-to-5 jobs. We laugh with our friends about the fun we had on the weekends. And we cry to them when we feel slighted or mistreated.

And with all this talk about storytelling being the key to marketing success, it makes sense that we go back to the basics on how to be better conversationalists. It’s often not only a story being told to a single audience, but rather a collection of carefully curated experiences being communicated over and over again. Which is more powerful, the storyteller or the story? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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