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Top Tips to Tell a Better Story

It’s no secret we all love a good story. Whether it’s on the big screen at the movies, on an e-reader while we sit in the airport, or from our favorite website while sitting at our cubicle a good story has the ability to totally consume us. I was recently made aware of this last week while riding the San Francisco MUNI on my morning commute to work. One morning this one woman was so consumed in what she was reading that she failed to notice that she was standing in the street car’s doorway. As the driver prepared the street car for departure my MUNI friend had the unfortunate experience of having the doors close on her! – Don’t worry though she was ok.

As marketers our goal is to craft a killer story. However sometimes it’s not that easy, particularly in an age where people’s attention spans are shorter than ever before. So I wanted to share this super cool post I found from Colum Five Media covering some great tips to help make your next story “door-closing” worthy.

1. Why are you telling this story?

“No one decides to tell a story without some purpose, passion, or unending contemplation of a subject,” says Starlight Runner Entertainment CEO, Jeff Gomez. So before you put pen to paper, stop and really think through why you want to share your story with the world. Trust me it will not only help you think through what it is you want to say, but also it will help you develop a unique angle for your story.

2. Make sure you’re adding value

“No one wants a stale piece of lettuce.” My boss recently shared that little piece of advice with me. (Thanks Parker!) If you feel like you’re just “going through the motions” then odds are you readers will also notice. The best way to keep you audience engaged is by continually asking yourself whether what you’re including is relevant and then actively support it.

3. Know your audience

We all can agree that writing for yourself is important; according to Gomez “it fosters honest writing and creative exploration”. However, if you are writing about a subject that doesn’t resonate with your audience then no matter how well written or interesting the piece is you’re not going to get the level of engagement you want. So be alert, see what subjects are generating the largest conversation and start to key in on them. Your audience will thank you.

4. Cannibalize your work

Writing like any other creative exercise is tricky. The creative process is an iterative one. “It also involves a certain level of brutality. Don’t be afraid to cut, paste, and delete to hone your story,” says Gomez. Think of it this way: by editing your work, you’re only going to make it stronger.

5. Finish it

Finishing a project is more important than starting it. It’s easy to come up with an idea that you want to share. However, actually putting pen to paper is always much harder. Gomez points out that “If you don’t get it down on paper, it might never be shared.” So whether it’s a short essay or a lengthy research dissertation, remember to pat yourself on the back one you finish it.

There you have it. Five easy steps that will help tell a more engaging story. Have any tips of your own? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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