Avoid these 5 mistakes in storytelling
“Fighting is so much fun in Ramayana daddy” responded my 4 year old back to me. I prompted a question to him about what did he learn in Ramayana? I was hoping he would reel off the learning moments from the story about obedience, listening, idealism, and a lot of many other aspects that we discussed. Yet he picked up “Fighting”.
I totally reckon the mind of a 4 year old but having said that there were somethings that I wasn’t doing right. There were some basic lessons to be learned about Storytelling.
#1. Balancing duration of plots
Subconsciously, I was allocating more time to the epic battle of Ramayana and covering the early childhood life of Rama and his brothers in comparatively shorter period of time. This meant the plot of the story that stuck with him was the battle between good and evil.
#2. Planting memorable moments judiciously
Jokes, Quotes, Punchlines, Actions, Conversations, emotions, and any other cue that makes moment within the storyline needs to be judiciously positioned. For example, when introducing certain characters or certain aspects of the battle, I was introducing humor. He was loving it. It also meant those moments stood with him much more than the others.
#3. Play gallery to your story not the other way round
It so happened that to engage him to the story, I consciously emphasized the portion that he loved. Like any other kid superheroes, battles, good over evil, and so on. I lost the plot to then steer the conversation to the messages that needed to be communicated.
#4. Carve out your messages
Our conversation started rather aimlessly. He asked me to tell a long story and not repeat the old ones at bedtime and I picked this. In order to keep his attention, I played to the gallery. However, carving out the messages early on and then interspersing memorable moments, and allocating time proportionately will go a long way in the entire endeavor.
#5. Summarize/Reflect on take aways
Our story ended as soon as evil Ravana is defeated and Rama returns to be the king and appear as incarnation of god. We didn’t pick up on the reflection points nor summarize the key takeaways which meant he took what he wanted to take or whatever was memorable in the moment.
So Next Time…
You deliver a story to sell or influence your point, please carve out your key messages, allocate time proportionately, plant memorable moments judiciously, carefully play to the gallery so you can rally them towards your view point, and finally summarize the takeaways.
Failing to do that can be catastrophic. An epic like Ramayana that really should teach how to be good and do good turns into how to fight and win a war!
Have fun telling your story.
P.S. Ramayana is an Indian mythological story/history happening that focuses of incarnation of god, his learning as a student, obedience as a son, responsible to people, love for wife, and finally challenging and winning over evil. It is a story that is used as an example to symbolize all things good should be and look like. Of course there are a few shades of grey as no one is perfect. You can learn more about it here.
Mani Gopalakrishnan (Mani G) is an Intrapreneur@heart. Based in Chicago, IL — Mani brings his expertise in digital, technology, people, education, and business strategy to innovate or solve the most complex problems for businesses.
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