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Class Introduction

Lesson 2 from: Storytelling: Using Story to Influence and Connect

Stefan Mumaw

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Lesson Info

2. Class Introduction

Next Lesson: The Impact of Story

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

Today we're gonna spend an awful lot of time talking about story. So hopefully you guys are in the world of story. I know that you are in the world of story, because you're A, sitting here in the studio audience and out here at home, but in most cases you are in some sort of professional creative industry, aren't you? Story is a really wide, broad topic, and there's no possible way for us to cover everything that story has to offer in the amount of time that we have. So we're going to focus a little bit on the professional creative industry and the marketing and advertising and design industries and how story can be used in those contexts to connect ourselves with audiences. If you think about it, almost all of the creative work that we do is intended to alter someone's behavior. It's to get them to see something in a different way, it's to get them to buy a product or participate in a service or to act in some way. And when you're asking someone to alter and change their behavior, sto...

ry plays a huge role in that because story provides context in a way that no other medium can. So let me give you an example. I'll tell you a story. I don't know what you guys had for breakfast. We had a wonderful breakfast here. I had a breakfast with a friend this morning. I had eggs, I had sausage, I had pancakes and toast with orange juice. Now that story doesn't mean much to you, does it? You're like, very few of you are taking out your phones to tweet that story, are you? There's not much to share there. So let me tell that story again. We went to a new place this morning. I'm not from here, so every place is a new place to me, but it was a new place to him as well, my friend who I was meeting with. It was just down the street, wasn't far from here, and it opened at seven a.m. I got there about five minutes early and I could see the people inside beginning to prepare to open. My friend showed up just before they opened the doors. When they opened the doors, we were the first person to walk in, and when they opened the door it was like this waft that often happens when somebody's preparing food in a closed room and they immediately opened that door and we walked in to this amazing smell and this incredible sound, and all I could hear was sizzling. At breakfast time, that's the time you want to hear something sizzle, don't you? And you could look out over the grill and you could see that they were making bacon and sausage and it was just coming up out of that grill and it was permeating through the entirety of the restaurant. I ordered, I placed my order, and it didn't matter what I was going to order, it was going to be that sausage, 'cause that sausage was just, it smelled so good. And we sat down and they brought our food to us and we had a really amazing meal, but I was very purposeful as we began to talk. He was gonna talk first, because they just sat that plate down in front of me and the sausage was still sizzling on the plate and I could hear it, and I was like, you know, I asked him a question. This was so strategic of me. I asked him kind of an open-ended question right off the bat as soon as they placed the food down that he had to answer while I cut into the sausage, into the eggs, and it was, it tasted exactly the way that you think fresh sausage that's being grilled would taste, especially from that smell, and it was a really amazing meal. As we got done, more and more people were showing up as the morning went on, and I could hear conversations that were happening around me, and it is San Francisco, and so it was a lot of younger folks who were talking about business and creative and digital world that they were working within. And there was a lot of energy, you could feel it, this was a meeting place where people came and they were pulling out their computers and they were showing each other and they were getting excited. I was watching a couple over in the corner and he was getting very animated about what he was talking about and you could see his hands moving. All the while I'm kind of smelling this amazing breakfast. As we finished and we left, there was a line forming outside. You could tell this place was fairly popular. And we said our goodbyes and I started walking down the street, and I stopped at the light, waiting for the light to turn. And I could smell that sausage. It's on my vest. And I held it up and I smelled, I could smell it again, the whole meal again, and all I could hear was sizzling. Every breath I took. Now, which story was more interesting to you? The second story, right? That's marketing. That's all marketing really is, is, it's the degrees by which we take to tell stories. If you have a client that says, "Hey, we're opening a new bakery." You could tell somebody, "Hey, they're opening a new bakery." Will anybody care? But if you tell them the types of things that they make, the care that they take, and the experience that they may have, and you form it in the context of story, people take notice. That's what we're talking about today. We're gonna talk about the nature of story and how powerful story is, and more importantly, how we can learn to build better stories. Every single one of you are innate storytellers. You're actually born with it. It's very human. But not many of us understand the nature of how stories, great stories, are built. And that's what I want to try and lay out for you today. How are great stories built? How can we build better stories in the context of the work that we do? What I just told you was a linear narrative, and very few times do we get the time to tell that type of linear narrative. So how do we take what we know about our audiences, the innate nature of story, what they already know, and embed it into our work so that when they see it it pulls it from them? That's one of the advantages of story, is it gives us implication. It's a characteristic that no other medium gives us, our audience knows something already. And we can use that in the context of what we build. So we're gonna explore that as we move today. We're gonna look at the structure of story, and we're going to look at examples in the marketing and advertising and design world so that gives us context as to how we can build better stories. But to do that, again, I'm going to show you an example of a story. So, how do you feel? How do you feel? Sad. You feel sad? Yeah. Why do you feel sad? Because he wanted to experience his freedom, and couldn't quite reach it. Hmm. I think it's an interesting example of how, by the way, it's an animation of a toy. How do we feel anything about the animation of a toy? Thanks a lot, Pixar. How do you feel, any animation, right? I mean, there's something innate to it, isn't it? This was a story about freedom, at the beginning of all this, right? It was just a story about freedom and it was about a toy who wanted to be free, wanted to be alive, and once we saw that there's a certain joy that he had, and we shared that joy 'cause we understand that joy. But then the story turned, didn't it? It was no longer a story about freedom, it was a story about companionship. He didn't want to be free, he wanted to be with a bird. Now it was about relationship, and that's where we get much more invested, don't we? Freedom is something that we certainly understand but relationship, that's something that we've all experienced, now on a regular basis, and we see someone who inherently is lonely. The scene tells us he's lonely. He's by himself on that table and he sees something that he wants to be with or someone that he wants to be with, and we want him to be with them. It's just a toy. It's not even a toy, it's an animation of a toy. But yet we want that for him, and when he doesn't get it, we get sad. Isn't that odd, how we can be moved by that? If you saw this in your social feeds, would you share it? Probably, right. I mean, if it moved you, you'd go, "Yeah, yeah I would share that." How come we would share that and we wouldn't share the commercial for the used car dealer down the street who's got a really great deal on a Chevy Cruze? How come we don't share that? That has much more value to the people that we're offering to in our feeds, doesn't it? But yet we don't share it 'cause it didn't move us. Now think about the context of advertising and marketing, the nature of what marketing is supposed to do. The idea of what mass marketing is supposed to be. You know, for hundreds of years we have marketed in a disruptive way. Let's find the things that people like and then let's shove our ad in between them so that they can see them. It was about eyeballs, it was about captured attention. But in today's social environment, in this collaborative economy, we are no longer tied to those rules, that if we create content that people are moved by that touches us in some way, whether it's, we're happy, if we're sad, whatever it is, that we can create content that people will share for us, and reach a far greater audience with the attachment of someone's recommendation to it which is an incredibly powerful proposal, isn't it? That right there is marketing. There's no reason why that couldn't have been for something or for someone, for a brand that makes something, for someone that has a characteristic with which they relate to that. That can be marketing. We don't care, as consumers, we just want to be moved. We don't care who creates it. We don't want to be manipulated, we want to be moved, and there's a difference between the two.

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Ratings and Reviews

Mary Rainwater

Outstanding class. Stephan Mumaw is a wonderful presenter with a wealth of knowledge. He delivers a ton of information in an organized and fun way! As a fiction writer,I was unsure if this course would be all that helpful. However, once I realized that the "product" I was selling was the "theme" (the unspoken moral throughline) of my story everything clicked into place! I highly recommend this course to all writers who wish to better "sell" their own "product".


GREAT CLASS!! Loved the content. Engaging speaker and wonderful examples shared. Took a lot from this class that I will bring back to my daily creative work!


Stefan was an amazing speaker... He provided great detail in explaining the structure of a story, and his example/videos really drove home the points he was making... He had wonderful real-world professional experiences to share.

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