Storytelling. For Entrepreneurship. My Definition.

So many people talk about the importance of stories today. Yet, few can explain to me what one is in simple terms. To me, it’s about a character that experiences challenges. That’s it. But, the reason for it being that way and why it’s useful is truly interesting.

The point of stories is to paint a clear image of your idea. The best way for this to happen is for you to follow a story structure. Why? It’s part of evolution.

Evolution has hardwired us to pay attention to stories more than a list of facts. This is because our hunter-gatherer ancestors had little to talk about other than survival. So, we evolved to pay attention to this information and its structure.

If the teller didn’t survive, they wouldn’t be sitting there telling the information. Thus, there tends to be a good ending along with some challenges of varying size in the information told. We’ve adapted to pay attention to explanations that follow a particular structure. It goes: “Everything was normal until I needed X. Along the way, I encounter challenge A. I solved it through B. I encountered C. But, because of D, I was safe. Finally, I was about to achieve E because of F.” In short, a story. Any other structure leads us to think, “That’s it?”

To summarize: A story is a character that goes through turbulence. The character can be anything. It can be an animal, organization, person or any other object you can think of. In your case, you might want to make it your company. To sell, you might want to take it a bit further and make your customer or user the character. This makes it easier for them visualize your story.

It’s up to you how you create a character and have them go through a journey in such a manner that conveys the details of your startup best. Currently, there is hype around stories with little explanation. So, the key takeaway is what a story is: “Any character (or object) that goes through challenges, and overcomes them.” Use this to convey your message or any other message.

To learn more, I challenge you to look at talks or essays that you find memorable. See if you can determine who the character in the story is and what they went through. Here are some books that I felt were pretty insightful when it comes to storytelling:

  • The Story Factor
  • The Storyteller’s Secret
  • Lead with A Story