Help! Our world is on overload.
Our brains are constantly striving to order and simplify everything around us. Unfortunately, the brain can only process so much before it checks out. This is especially true when it comes to storytelling.
Does your project manager or lead architect get lost in the minutia? Does your audience glaze over as your engineer does a deep dive into ampacity and kilowatt-hours? Do you tune out because there are too many details, details, details!
If you want to reach people and be memorable, keep your stories simple, coherent and impactful. How do you do that? Start by deciding what point you want to make, what thought you want to leave with the audience, or what feeling you hope to elicit from your listeners. Then, every detail you share should relate back to the main theme you’re exploring. Every detail must contribute to the impact of the story.
Let’s consider fairy tales.
How about the story of the Three Little Pigs? What are the three pigs’ houses made of?
Yep — straw, sticks and bricks.
Why do you know that? Because those are the details of the story that impact the pigs and the wolf, so those are the details you remember! The storyteller doesn’t tell us how the contractor built the homes. The teller doesn’t share the project schedule, interior finishes or square footage of each cottage. Why? Because those details don’t matter in the story. Those details don’t impact the pigs or wolf, so they serve no purpose in moving the story forward.
Need another example? How about Goldilocks? The porridge is too hot, too cold and just right. The beds are too hard, too soft and just right. The audience doesn’t care if the bears use a gas or an electric stove to heat porridge or if the beds are a Sleep Number or a Tempur-Pedic. What’s important is that the porridge and the beds impact Goldilocks and eventually the three bears.
(As a side note, there’s also something powerful and memorable about groups of three: three acts, three reasons, three steps, three-point presentations.)
Our brains like details, just not too many! Be selective, so you’ll be memorable. Ask yourself, what details impact your story and the audience?
Meanwhile, whatever became of those three blind mice?