Breaking the storytelling cycle

We can no longer just ideate, create, post, and repeat.

John Clinton, CEO, Edelman Canada
John Clinton, CEO, Edelman Canada

We tell stories all day and, like anything we repeat, we have gotten used to doing it a certain way: ideate, create, post, and repeat. We have more tools at our disposal than ever before, yet we are still turning to the same old procedure. It’s how we use mediums – old and new – that will determine the stickiness of our stories, and to do this effectively we must break from our routines.

My colleagues are awesome storytellers. They are great at what they do, but many are even better at using social media for personal branding and doing it in novel ways; which made me wonder: How do we translate that passion to our professional lives? First, we change our approach to storytelling.

And that’s why we created Edelman’s StoryLab – our one-day storytelling experience. It was borne out of the idea that we had to fend off complacency to be effective and that enthusiasm – like the enthusiasm we use to talk about ourselves – was lacking. You can have the most important message in the world, however, if you tell it in a linear, traditional way, it will never make a meaningful, long-lasting impression.

I recently took part in Vancouver’s first StoryLab, in which we were asked to develop a narrative for the Vancouver Aquarium. We told the same story through dance, a shadow play, improvisation, and music. And it wasn’t just for the fun of it; it was about exploring new, disruptive ways to tell our stories.

To tell better stories, we need to be taken out of our comfort zones, to try out non-traditional mediums, and to look at a storytelling opportunity through fresh eyes. And this can be simple.

Next time you have a set of key messages, consider how you would tell it through music. What are the verses? Where’s the chorus? Or if you had to tell it in a visual manner, what would that look like? Is it a painting? A sculpture? Does it make more sense as an image or a piece of text? Should it be both? How would you tell it if you were the main subject?

Repetition is a dead end. Storytelling must evolve. We can no longer just ideate, create, post, and repeat. By changing our approach, we will show up differently, now, and in the future.

John Clinton is CEO of Edelman Canada.

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