The Art of Story Telling

When my niece was a kid, her most dreaded summer ritual was Grandpa’s Slide Shows.  He and Grandma’d come back from far flung corners around the world, turn all their photos into 35mm slides, painstakingly put them in order in the slide carousel, then head over for the party.  The family gathered in the living room, lights were dimmed, and Grandpa regaled the family — sometimes for a couple hours or more — with pictures of their travels.  Only recently did my now grown, successful niece confess she had her first sanctioned beer during those slide shows. She was 15.   Her father snuck it to her after the lights dimmed. If the child had to sit through the show, she’d earned the contraband hootch.

The photos are terrific, and their travels extraordinary. They saw Europe and parts of Asia and South America when most of their friends traveled to Chicago. Grandpa invested in good equipment and knew how to frame a shot.

But slide shows are boring, right?


Because there’s no story.

Every good story — just like every good joke — has a beat and a pay-off.

Good stories convey a message, leave an impression.

Stories inspire us, touch us, move us, outrage us or motivate us.

Stories aren’t told by stringing together a series of facts or experiences (or photos). They are told through plot and scene and story arc and character investment. They bring the reader (or listener) into the tale and hook ’em so they stay til the end.

When done well, contraband hootch isn’t required.

No one tells a story better than the master of story-telling, Kurt Vonnegut.  Even when the story he’s telling is story telling.

Whether your story is your summer vacation or your corporate mission or the reasons why your not-for-profit is most deserving of contribution dollars, it’s got to be a good story.

Give me a call. I’d love to help you tell it.