People are drawn to a good story. Maybe because there is something incredibly nostalgic about them. When we are young, and all through school we are read countless stories. They give us emotional context, so we better understand important concepts. They are powerful and even magical. An impactful story can make something, which might have otherwise seemed insignificant, become so meaningful and memorable to us.
But, great storytelling is an art. It’s not easy, and takes time to master. We have to practice using our true voice to tell our stories so they become more impactful.
Mortified Nation, is a great example of impactful storytelling. It is “a documentary about adults who share their most embarrassing, private childhood writings… in front of total strangers”. This movie received so much attention that many cities across the USA now have Mortified Live, a comedy show where people voluntarily share stories and artifacts from their childhood.
It is raw, hilarious, and surprisingly contagious. The movement is completely grassroots, and people are flocking in to participate.
But, what makes Mortified so effective?
All the stories are personal and relatable!
The best stories are relatable. They express a true voice and take us on a journey. They are moving and cause others to reflect upon their own lives and experiences.
The Mortified tagline is “Preserving your childhood. One bad memory at a time.” It recognizes that we all go through an awkward phase in our childhood. It’s definitely not a graceful transition from childhood to adolescence and adulthood. Actually it’s quite painful. We all try to figure out how we fit in and struggle to navigate our ever-changing relationships with family and friends. So why not look back on these memories together, laughing and shaking our heads, wondering why we all cared so much?
The truth is, starting a business is the same as this awkward time period in our lives. We try to figure out how we will fit in the market and how to navigate our ever-changing relationships with business partners, colleagues, and customers. It’s quite painful. But, after some time has gone by, you realize those tricky situations, mistakes, and awkward moments taught you a lot and made your company what it is today.
By sharing the personal details which shaped your vision, values, and goals, it becomes more real and relatable. Your story will resonate with people much more than if your share data or dry information. An authentic, well-delivered story is a powerful way to connect people with your brand.
To get started, you can use some tips from the Mortified technique to craft a great business story. Their website provides a great guideline, but realize that sharing your business story requires more planning and tailoring for your specific audience.
1. Have a plan for sharing your story.
Personal sharing in business is tricky. It is best to start with an action plan. First, you must choose an audience. Will you be sharing with your employees, your customers, or your partners? Then, decide which format you will use to present your story. Will you create a video, a presentation, a blog? From this decision, you can select a channel for putting your voice out there. This could be an email, a company intranet, Youtube, Vimeo, social sites like Twitter and Facebook, your blog, an online forum. It’s pretty daunting, right? But it is so important to have a strategy for effective sharing!
2. “Unearth” or dig up some artifacts.
These artifacts can be anything that will supplement your story. Maybe it’s the napkin you wrote your new business idea on, your first stab at a business plan, the first mockup or a rough draft of your product, your first sales/promotion letters or emails, the moment you announced your launch or opening, any major turning point in your business, pictures of your team and first office space, ect. Artifacts will help you remember your experiences. They are important, but your story does not have to completely rely on them.
3. Find “Excerpts” to share.
During this step you select quotes, samples, or snippets from your journey and your artifacts. Try to select ones which you believe will resonate the most with your audience. These selections are highlights, good or bad, from your journey. Remember: it is so important to know who your audience will be before you choose which excerpts to share. Your story should be tailored to your audience.
4. “Frame” your excerpts with a context that reveals a personal story.
The Mortified team helps participants frame their story with a personal screening session. This is a casual conversation where the participant shares their artifacts and excerpts and receives feedback. It’s practice for the real sharing, and you could easily do this with a friend.
Chose someone who would represent your intended audience, who isn’t already familiar with your story, and who you can trust to give honest feedback. Make it a fun and informal conversation. The goal is to feel out which excerpts and artifacts will resonate the most with your listener. Do not to embellish your material. Keep it real and authentic!
5. Share your story!
This should be the easiest step because you already have a plan for where to post and share your story. Keep in mind that it doesn’t hurt to let people know you are working on a story before you actually share it. This can build anticipation and it gives others a chance to get involved in the creation of your story. The more voices and perspectives involved, the more enriched your business story will be.