JamBerry Ltd

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

7 Ways to Start a Story...


Storytelling in business has really taken off in the last few years, but whilst we may understand the need to tell a story knowing how to start it can sometimes be a bit trickier. So here are a few tips on ways to start a story:

1.       Imagine…

Probably one of the most evocative ways to get someone’s attention is to get their imagination working.  Imagine... works really well if you want to tell a “visionary” story, taking people to a place that perhaps they haven’t explored before. And depending on the follow up words you can take them to a wide variety of places and times. Imagine if… Imagine when… And then to make the story really powerful you need to show the audience the link between their leap of imagination and the reality of where they are now. So for example, imagine there was a new fuel to run cars on – and then show them a picture of a prototype and a path to take it from now to the future.

2.       I remember when…

This opening invites the audience to look at where they have come from and how much has changed (hopefully for the better). This a great way to remind people of the obstacles that they have already overcome and the put things into perspective. Sometimes people need reminding that they are making progress.

3.       I was walking down the street the other day…

You were in the middle of doing something ordinary when something extraordinary happened. It happens to people all the time, they are getting on with their lives when something happens that changes, interrupts and generally makes an impact. This can be a great starter for a story which is about a journey or about getting from where you are and going to where you want to be.

4.       It is a universal truth…

Starting with a provocative or unusual statement which makes the listener stops and think. They may or may not agree with your statement, but either way they will be tuned in to what you say next.

5.       Life is like a box of chocolates…

Here we have both a quote and a metaphor. Quotes are great (but don’t over use them). Metaphors are a way of getting people to think sideways and open up their thinking to the story you are going to tell them. They can help provide some distance between the same old thinking and a new approach.

6.       I get really mad when…

This starts with an emotion – an emotion you would like to draw your audience into. This is an invitation to get mad, to get excited, to get involved. It draws people in to what you are about to say next, particularly when delivered with passion.

7.       We are at the beginning of the end…

Paradoxes, where a statement seemingly contradicts itself are a way to show how two different contradictory thoughts can be held at the same time. In doing so they help change perspective and help open up our minds to alternative options.

The start of a story does not have to be “Once upon a time...” There are lots of alternatives. How does your story start?

See also Using stories in business (part 1)