What’s Your Story?

By Chris Blair

Almost all human interaction involves the use of stories. It’s been that way for centuries. Prehistoric cave dwellers used drawings to tell stories. The world’s best-selling book, The Bible, is a book of stories.

Without stories, most of us would have no reason to communicate; no reason to interact. How difficult would it be for us to learn about ourselves, document history, or entertain without them? Watch a major television network for a couple of hours and count how many programs or commercials use stories.

Why are they so effective? Because people identify with events that are in tune with their experiences. And stories provide structure. They introduce characters and settings, grab our attention by introducing conflict, then satisfy our curiosity by providing a resolution.

Without stories, videos and commercials usually become a jumble of facts and claims that attempt to tell the viewer what to think. Other videos are nothing more than moving, talking wall hangings. Great to look at, but pointless. Stories offer an account of events that let readers or viewers interpret the meaning.

Using stories is really pretty easy. If you’re producing a video about OSHA rules and regulations, at first blush it may seem difficult to make the subject matter compelling. But what if employees don’t comply with OSHA rules? Bingo! You’ve got a storyline. The set-up: a manager ignores OSHA rules. The conflict: employees are torn between obeying their supervisor or obeying OSHA rules. Then an accident occurs. The resolution: the accident makes employees understand it’s everyone’s responsibility to follow OSHA rules.

The best lawyers use stories to convince juries. The best ministers use stories to inspire. The best educators use stories to motivate and teach. The best producers use stories to educate, entertain and sell. Use them in your video projects. People respond to stories.