Posted June 26th, 2015

Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.

—Robert McKee

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we shall begin…

Storytelling to many appears a dying art; there’s no swiping right, no instant update and it’s not very ‘now’.  BUT, it’s still very much here, from Shakespeare to Budweiser (bet you didn’t think they’d be in the same verse?!) we’re still using it, it’s still very powerful and nowhere more so than in events.

Shakespeare’s model of storytelling is still very much used today – just look at Budweiser’s half time Superbowl advert. Inspired by the story of a puppy and a horse, who get separated but then overcome all to be together again, it has the classic Bard’s storytelling traits (and is coveted in the science behind Freytag’s Pyramid): an exposition, compounding action, climax, falling action, and a final outcome. Why does this work though? And why is it so powerful? It’s because life really only happens in the tales we tell one another.

In a continuously changing world, traditional media channels are forever evolving but storytelling remains firm and crosses the lines of the old and new. It can also move with the times – the new buzz phraseology of ‘connected storytelling’ has just been capitalized by Nissan – launching its new ‘brand story’ across multi channels.

A story can go where quantitative analysis can’t: straight to our hearts. Data can persuade people; but it doesn’t inspire, fire or motivate them to do something. To do that, we believe you need to envelop your vision in a story that ignites the imagination and arouses the soul – and that’s how you make an impact. It’s not difficult to see that events and storytelling go hand in hand. Collide the senses with the powerful emotions stories can evoke and you’ve got an unforgettable experience right there.

At Jackanory our events and experiences are steeped in storytelling; it’s in the name, in the ethos and we truly believe in the power of it.  Stories fashion “stickiness.” There’s so much competing information and media channels today that companies and brands are continuously challenged to find ways to connect and be more memorable with their audiences. Stories do just that – add stories to a unique experience and you’ll have a best seller.

This all sounds great but how do you actually go about constructing a story for an event? Here’s our method based on the previously mentioned Freytag’s pyramid:

Set the exposition:

Establish the characters, the brand story – is it a new or an old pre-loved one that just needs a new edition? Punchdrunk are fore founders in event storytelling. They’ve pioneered a game changing form of event in which roaming audiences experience epic storytelling inside sensory worlds. They build character, dialogue and the story and sweep their audiences along through a dazzling and truly unforgettable event.

The compounding action:

Who are you telling the story to and what’s the initial hook? What single event will get them interested? What action do we want people to rise to? We recently held a conference based on a ‘quirky’ Alice in Wonderland theme. Building the drama for delegates we started them in a room that got smaller and smaller and then took them down the rabbit hole, landing at the Mad Hatters Tea Party! Creating curiosity, intrigue and mystery at every turn, we played on the storytelling and heightened emotion to tell the brand’s story.

The climax:

How do we make sure that this story forms a new narrative? What’s going to make people go ‘wow’? Think of the ultimate event in 2012; the London Olympics. Everyone expected a powerful opening ceremony, a full event that showcased the best the country has to offer. Nobody expected a sky diving Queen – that was how they ensured this story had a new narrative and had millions gasping at their screens. Take the unusual, be brave and make your event the one that people talk about.

The falling action and final outcome:

Creating a story that will be told and told again – what will people want to do once they’ve been on this journey? What’s the ‘dénouement’? Taking people on an exceptional and sensory emotional journey will leave them feeling exhilarated and they will take that brand/idea straight to their hearts. Building on a nostalgia theme, Jackanory brought baking back to the heart of the home through our two-week unique ‘better baking’ boutique. Hooking in consumers through interesting workshops, engaging them emotionally through nostalgia, the joys of baking and culminating in sharing their very own baking hints and tips on social platforms to spread the Dr. Oetker magic. Cementing them as the go to brand for novice bakers.

See? Quite simple really…Too often brands only engage with people on a rational level but this isn’t enough to actually change behaviour. People probably understand what you want them to do but if they aren’t emotionally engaged they just won’t do it!

Storytelling does just that and particularly when married with events, it can give brands and businesses a way of motivating people, a way of changing perceptions and actions. People expect much more now – they want a ‘wow’, something memorable, and something they can talk about. Give them that and you’ll be on your way to having a success story of your own….

Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Want to make a point or raise an issue? Tell a story. — Janet Litherland

The End.