The Best Part About Stories is Sharing Them
Stories are powerful because people enjoy sharing them. Think about it. Social media has become so popular, that it has become a perilous addiction for some. It proves that as a culture, we are addicted to staying current with each other’s stories, sharing them and adding our input to those stories.
For that reason, one of your goals should be to empower the people around you to want to share your story. No wants to share a bland, abstract story. A person will be far more likely to share an interesting, visual story. If you can come up with a great visual story, it creates a domino effect: you’ll get mentioned more often simply because it’s fun to mention you; being mentioned often results in more opportunities coming to your doorstep. In sum, great visual stories will allow your network to help you become more successful
Sold? Now that we’ve covered the why, lets move onto the how.
The Art of Storytelling
A visual story is something that evokes an image or a series of images. It’s created using words that possess a certain honesty and vulnerability which describe feelings and pivotal moments in time.
An abstract story would sound something like this: “I have been very passionate about video game development from a young age.” While this gets the point across, you’re not getting the reader’s visual cortex firing. A much better way to tell the very same story would be:
I was 12 years old, sitting in my room playing Call of Duty, loving every second of it. I started to get hungry and wandered out to the kitchen for a snack. On the TV, I saw a commercial for a video game graphic design course. I stopped dead in my tracks. Before that moment, I had never even thought of this possibility. From that moment on, I knew what I had to do. I enrolled in a program to allow me to be that guy who makes those amazing games. Here I am today, ready to do just that.
Stop now and ask yourself what that second story did for you.
You could probably see his story: you can see the boy in his room playing video games, it isa dark room, you can see him walk past a TV, see him stop, eyes widening at the idea of apotential dream come true, forgetting all about his snack. The point is, you can see, understand and resonate with his “A-ha” moment. You probably have a few similar ones of your own.
The fatal error in the first story is that abstract concepts or descriptors like “I am passionate” will be quickly overlooked because it’s an empty claim and unproven. The images are what cause the reader’s brain to infer and understand those qualities you’re trying to get across.
The reason this inference is so important is because when somebody infers something, they own it, they believe it, because they constructed it in their own mind. There is absolutely nothing more powerful than if a person thinks that they were the one who came up with the idea that you are passionate and motivated. Most importantly, they will want to share it.
Work It Out
It may seem daunting, you may think your story is boring, you may not be the “creative type”.
Fear not, there are four simple steps that you can take to create your story.
- Come up with a bullet point list of the abstract type of strengths that you have that you want to show off to the world, such as: dedicated, motivated, intellectually stimulating, etc.
- Think about events or scenarios that were able to illustrate those attributes about you. Specifically, try to come up with some moments that were unique, pivotal or simply powerful. Write these examples as sub-bullets as they pertain to each attribute.
- Try to tell a very visual story for each one in a very brief paragraph, not more than 3-5 lines. If you need some help here, you can try out The Visual Thesaurus.
- Tell the story to someone who knows you well and afterwards, ask them, “What did that story make you think of me in terms of who I am?” If that story works, it should circle back to one of the original attributes from your list.