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The Impact of Story

Lesson 3 from: Storytelling: Using Story to Influence and Connect

Stefan Mumaw

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Lesson Info

3. The Impact of Story

Next Lesson: Story is Marketing

Lesson Info

The Impact of Story

That's really what the impact of story is. That's it's greatest value, is the ability for us to connect structure with emotion. We're gonna see that formula play out a lot today. It is the most powerful communication vehicle known to man. We've been using it since the dawn of time. It's what we use to inform each other, to warn each other, to educate. It's what we use to connect to each other and give context and meaning to things. Have you ever been confused by something? What's the first thing you ask for? Give me an example. Tell me a story. Give me some context with which I can take in that concept. And I can use it and use the things that are around it that I understand to comprehend what it is that you have for me. That's the power that story has. Look at this great quote by Janet Litherland. Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, and challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Want to make a point or raise...

an issue? Tell a story. If you think about it, isn't that the very things that we would want people to describe our work? Wouldn't we want our work to delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, and challenge? Isn't that what we want for ourselves? Aren't those the characteristics that if somebody looked at us they would use those to describe us? Don't we want people to think that we delight and enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, and challenge? That we help them understand? That's the power that story has. What's unusual though in the context of the world that we typically live in is we use story very rarely. Why do we use it so rarely? 'Cause it's hard. Story's really hard. And it requires a certain investment in us that we as the makers are creators of that story have to understand how a story is taken in. That's not usually a step we're willing to take. We've got too much work to do. I gotta keep banging out these things. I can't take the time to understand that audience in such a way where I could figure out what it is that moves them. But that's exactly what we're asked to do. That's what the effective marketing that we've experienced, the things in our life that have moved us, they took the time to understand why it would move us. It's the exact work we want to do. For many of you it's why you got in this business to begin with and I know it's why I got in this business. I'm a designer by trade. I would see the work of some of the people that inspired me most and you're like, they took the time to get me, to understand exactly who I am and then produce this one piece of work, and they knew that I understand the periphery of it. That they didn't have to tell me everything. That they could just tell me this one thing and it would trigger it all. You're gonna see a lot of examples of triggers today where the people who developed these stories understood what you know already. Some of these things will move you more than other things will. And they know that because you're exactly who they're speaking to. There's one in particular that's gonna hit me, because it talks about a father. And I'm a father. And they knew it. And they produced it specifically for me. And it worked. I enacted a behavior with which made them money. That was the goal and I was perfectly happy to do it, because they understood who I was. And they gave me a story that mattered to me. We're gonna see examples of that as we move through it. I'm a huge advocate of story. I love story in every form. You love story in every form. But I specifically love it in the context of movies. I love the movies. I see about 125 movies a year in theater. I love the whole experience. It has to be in theater for me. It has to be with other people. It has to be with the $10 popcorn and the $12 Coke, and it's gotta be sitting there with other people. There is something that's unique about the corporate engagement of story, isn't there? Why do we have to watch stories with other people? Why are we like, "No, no, no, record it and me and you "will watch it tomorrow night, "even though I've got all the time to watch it right now." You have to watch it with somebody else don't you? It's this new experience you're having together that you're both being moved together. That's the corporate experience of story. It is a corporate experience. We are made to experience story together because each of us are gonna react in a slightly different way. That's why the movies are so wonderful. There's 150 seats all facing a story. And they all go through the same things and it's just so interesting to me to see somebody laugh at something that no one else laughed at, that they found something humorous in. They saw a piece of that story that resonated with them. Their experience mattered. I've been hearing that the appeal of story has been declining since we can now access story in so many new and different ways, specifically in the movies. That the movie industry in decline, that the amount of home options for us have increased to the point where we stopped going to the movies. But the numbers don't exactly play out. Let's look at last year for instance, 2016. Global box office revenue last year was $38.6 billion, the highest it's ever been. Netflix's annual revenue was $8.8 billion. Remember, that's subscription service. They're not paying for product. That's the monthly roll over. $8.8 billion last year. TV broadcasting revenue in the U.S. is $31.1 billion, highest it's ever been. On average, Disney makes $124.7 million per film in the U.S. by itself, and the U.S. isn't the largest market. So you wonder why movies, those sequels that aren't that great get produced. 'Cause they can count on $124.7 million each time. Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all time. $2.78 billion. What's number two? Anybody know? Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 2.4. Number of movie tickets sold in the U.S. by itself, 1.3 billion. More tickets than have ever been sold in history. The movie industry is not in decline. Our desire for story has never been at a higher point. We love story. You guys are innate story-tellers. You can tell story without even thinking about it. When someone asks you how was your day, what do you say? You usually will go through something chronologically won't you? You'll go into a linear narrative. It usually starts in the morning, 'cause you want to tell somebody how your day was, and you know your day was attached to time. So just innately you follow a structure that exists within there. And because you don't want to tell a boring story you start inserting the parts that are the most interesting and leave off the parts where you were sitting at your desk for an hour doing nothing. We leave those things alone, and we tell just the highlights, because we want to tell an interesting story. It's innate to you. Every time somebody asks you give me an example and you are able to tell them an example of something that's complex, you're giving them a story. It's innate to you. But how do we tell those stories better? How do we push them to be stories that people are interested in? That we can craft stories even in the context of single images or small bits of copy, that people will read or look at or watch and say "That's fantastic." And they will share because they felt the story that you've told. We're gonna look at some of those examples, and we're gonna get into a little bit of what story means from a marketing standpoint, and give you some context with which to use.

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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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