Why Is Storytelling Important Today?
Storytelling is an activity that conveys tales or stories with words, sounds, images or songs. Many times, to make the stories more interesting, the story may include a bit of embellishment, theatrics or improvisation. In other words, the stories were told to provide information or perhaps to teach a moral or lesson, but the rest of the details seem to have been added purely for entertainment purposes.
Typically the reason we have websites and blogs is to share our knowledge, opinions, and expertise. Should storytelling be a part of the way we disburse information?
Google Seems To Think It’s A Good Idea
According to Tribute Media, a web marketing agency, and their research:
Did you know the human attention span is shorter than a goldfish’s?
Goldfish = 9 seconds
Humans= 6-8 seconds
Your website or blog has a lot of work to do in a short amount of time. You’ve got about 7 seconds to convince someone that your site has the information they are searching for.
According to Google, blog posts that gather the highest attention tend to be long form posts of 2,000 words or more! Yay! I tend to write mini-novels for blog posts so that’s great news!
It appears that these highly regarded posts tell compelling stories that engage readers and retain their interest so that they stay on that particular site savoring every single word.
Digital Journals, Videos, And Books, Oh My!
In our world today, storytelling is usually accomplished by creating digital books, videos or a combination of these as well as podcasts.
We live in a very fast-paced world. I don’t know about you, but I miss the days of getting a personal letter in the mail from a far away loved one. I’m sure you’ve heard that they are no longer teaching cursive in most schools? Handwriting is a very individual and unique thing. Your handwriting reveals so much about you. (Just for fun, click the link to go check out your handwriting personality results).
A person’s penmanship is very personal. A few months after my husband died in a car accident, I found his learner’s permit for driving. When I saw his signature, I immediately began to cry. I could picture a 15-year old beaming with excitement as he was finally able to drive. Who would have thought when he got his learner’s permit that just a few short years later, he would die behind the wheel of his car. His signature directly touched my heart immediately.
We Draw People In Closer When We Share Stories From Our Life
Think back to your early years in school. What childhood books or stories come to mind? The first one that I remember is Winnie The Pooh! All of the characters seem to come to life. I remember when I was about six-years-old and we had our nap rugs at school. We would lay quietly on the floor while our teacher read to us of the adventures of Winnie The Pooh and all his friends. We were very reluctant to return to work and have to stop story time.
Why do I still remember this storybook series when all of my children are grown and have children of their own? Because the stories have stayed with me. Books make learning fun. It’s easier to remember things if there is a story that goes along with it, don’t you agree?
My all-time favorite Winnie The Pooh character is Tigger. Can you tell? 😉
I also remember my Mother refusing to let me read Dr. Seus’ books. She said they were stupid! I wonder what she would have thought of The Simpson’s cartoons? Now, that makes me smile!
Books Can Be Heirlooms And Prized Possessions
Years ago, when we were packing to move from Michigan, my home state, to Florida. My neighbor noticed several boxes of books in my office. My husband, Rich, always teases me about taking my books when we move. Anyway, I’ll never forget what my neighbor said.
She said, “Today we have computers and everything is available online. Why are you packing and keeping all of those books? Why don’t you just sell them or give them away.” This caught me off-guard and I was appalled! I responded, “These books have been collected over many years. I have fond memories of reading them while traveling or learning new things from them. These books are like my friends. I won’t get rid of them.” She looked at me like I was crazy, lol!
You see, I just snuck in a little bit of a story about a time in my past before I moved to Florida. You learned that I love reading and books. 🙂 Wasn’t it more fun to learn that fact by my story rather than me just telling you I love to read and I love books?
What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic. ― Carl Sagan, Cosmos
Is Storytelling Right For You?
One of the expert bloggers I follow, and my friend, Donna Merrill wrote a blog post about storytelling. She asked some great questions like:
- Have you ever read a blog with story-telling content?
- Did you learn something from the story?
- Was the story in the post congruent with the brand/message of the blog or did it seem to pose a disconnect?
- Would you like to read a blog that is a mix of storytelling, and other forms of context?
- Do you find storytelling boring or intriguing?
What you might find even more interesting is reading the comments following this post. You will find that these are quality comments, the type of comments that add to the spirit of the blog post. There are little gold nuggets within these comments. I look forward to the day when I will collect quality comments like these to enrich your experience here.
Just like other things in life, there is a right place and a right time for everything, and that includes telling a story.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
If you, like me, plan on creating intriguing blog posts that allow your storytelling to be compelling and unforgettable, a feast for the mind and eyes, would you enjoy worker smarter, not harder?
When setting up your blog, it’s best to use as few WordPress Plugins as possible and still have your site be feature rich and interactive. The fewer plugins installed and activated, the fewer plugin compatibility issues you will experience. Also, the fewer plugin updates you will have to do so you will be more productive.
Would you be interested in a tool that provides you with several components that can enrich your blog posts and visitor’s experience?
If you are a storyteller, journalist or photographer blogger, this should especially be helpful in assisting you with creating eye-catching and emotionally engaging stories or posts by utilizing these components.
I will briefly go over some of the basic free components.
Quote Component – Unlike the typical WordPress quote insertion on the editor, the Quote component creates a styled quote with large type. You can set a unique background image, control the color of the type, as well as animate the text across the screen. Pretty cool!
Collection Component – Using categories and posts, you can create a collection of stories. For example, you create a collection of stories under the category Water Painting, you could display that collection in a grid layout on your home page.
Document Component – This component is ideal for Adobe PDFs and image files. It draws a small document heading, and when clicked, will slide down to reveal the document/image.
Character Component – The Character component creates a character with an Avatar, name, and biography.
Timeline Component – This component draws a scroll-to type navigation that is called a “Timeline.” Similar to a chapter or specific point in the story, it creates a scroll-to point. Ideal labels (the navigation points) include months or years. Each point creates a heading in the form of an h2 tag that is displayed at the bottom of the story.
As you can see by the image above, there are more components for you to enjoy. Now that I have you all excited about this free tool, let me introduce you to a sample component so you can see the power behind this.
Example Of One Of The Components
If you watched the Winnie The Pooh video above, that is the Video Component live.
To do a walk-through, let’s Start with the Map Component – I must admit, this component was a bit tricky for me. It allows you to create a full-width map with custom location markers, including the option for the map to follow you as you scroll down the post. Only one map is allowed per story. To begin, set up a free Mapbox Account in order to create a unique Map ID. Here, you can see how Mapbox works. Copy and paste your Map ID in Notepad or your favorite text editor. You will need it in a couple of steps.
My WordPress Theme does not natively support the tool, Aesop Story Engine. (You can find premium Themes that you can use with your WordPress blog. There are also some really cool Add-Ons available.) If you have a different theme like I do, you need to add a small bit of code.
I had to add a code snippet to my child theme’s functions.php file to enable Extended Style Support. To make it easy to add the code, I installed and activated the “Code Snippets” plugin. (If you are new to WordPress and need help installing and activating a plugin, go here).
Create a new snippet by copying and pasting the following code:
add_theme_support(“aesop-component-styles”, array(“parallax”, “image”, “quote”, “gallery”, “content”, “video”, “audio”, “collection”, “chapter”, “document”, “character”, “map”, “timeline” ) );
Then, install and activate the Aesop Story Engine Plugin. After it’s activated, you will see the “+Add Component” button in your WordPress Editor.
To input your Mapbox Map ID: Appearance » Customize » Aesop Story Engine.
Now you know how to add a map to your post. If you choose sticky mode, the location of the map in your post won’t matter. But, if the device screen is small, like on a mobile phone or tablet, the map will go back to “normal” and be shown within your post where you placed it.
Play with the zoom and see how professional the images are. Click the map marker for more details. You can also add an image for your business or story.
By utilizing this component, you can add a map component to your story and help create a more realistic story. Think about adding a map to your fictional story with markers to help readers follow along? Or, perhaps you aren’t writing fiction? The idea still applies. The more details you provide, the closer the reader gets to the story and the storyteller.
As you can see, this can be an exciting and innovative way to add excitement and “stickiness” to your storytelling. You can add any of these components right from your WordPress editor, all for free.
OVERVIEW ABOUT WHY STORYTELLING WORKS
1. Telling a story makes you human and connects you with your blog visitors. You are able to take the reader on a journey and help them experience the real-world result. It’s almost like a testimonial for proving your point. Your reader also gets to see how you think, how you came to your conclusion.
2. By telling a story, you can achieve clarity. When you open up, you become vulnerable. After disclosing your personal story, you can also gain credibility. Your blog readers can tell bologna a mile away.
3. Your readers will love to be entertained. Depending on your blog niche and personality, I find it helps to add humorous experiences here and there. Don’t take life so seriously. Laugh at yourself and the world laughs with you. Another way to connect with your blog visitors.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou.
Did you enjoy reading any of my personal stories in this post? If so, which one touched you the most or reminded you of something in your own life? Please, comment below and share a story from your life.