Three lessons in storyteling from the story of ‘stuff’

Yesterday while interviewing Mara DeFilippis, founder of Arizona’s Arizona’s Green Chamber of Commerce, she mentioned ‘The story of stuff’ and I realized I had not seen it for some time now.

I revisited the site and discovered that it now has an international site, with the story told –via sub-titles– in Arabic, Hebrew, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Dutch, Mandarin and Thai!

I also realized how there are some very powerful storytelling techniques at work, and I like to highlight three that anyone could inject into any form of communication:

Passion: Annie Leonard is no doubt a great presenter, but her passion for what she is presenting is what really makes the story come alive. We often present on topics we are very familiar with, and tend to get jaded. Our body language, and choice of words can convey that passion.

Connective Tissue: Good storytellers weave in and out of facts with an ulterior motive, drawing connections, building toward the denouement. This 20-minute video is packed with facts. But they all build a story of how the ‘system’ works –or doesn’t. She connects the dots for us as we listen.

Great mix of human & visual elements. In a digital world, it’s easy to amp up the ‘performance’ or use illustrations or stock photos to move a story forward. Leonard’s conversational technique interacts so well with the illustrations hovering above her head, it’s hard to see one without the other.  In storytelling people and images should not be an either/or choice. Even when there is no video or visual, it’s possible to paint images with words.

So the next time you are presenting, or telling Your Story, take a closer look at this video and you will probably find more than the three elements I highlighted.


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