By Tony Dent

January 2017

“I wanna tell you a story…” was frequently the start of a short homily from the late Max Bygraves in his British TV show of the 1960’s.  Unfortunately Max’s tales don’t strike me as examples of what is meant by today’s demand for the type of story designed to illuminate research results.

So what is meant by those marketers who request storytelling?  

The object is clear and well expressed in the blog on: http://www.thestorytellers.com/the-power-of-storytelling – where they say “Stories are a great way of learning from others, and can help shape cultures within business.

But beware – in the same blog it says “A story has a core message, but can be interpreted in different ways, depending on the lens through which it’s being heard.”

Now I am sure that those who were emphasising the value of storytelling at the Insights Association’s CEO conference in Miami last week were not contemplating the possibility of different interpretations of the story.

So what was it they really expect?  To be honest, for me, the means by which the objective of storytelling is achieved, remains somewhat obscure but here are a few guidelines as I see it and I hope others will add to these do’s and don’ts to provide a genuine guide as to the best way to achieve the desired result.

  1. a)      The Insight story must contain facts – it is not a place for fantasy or fiction
  2. b)      It should be supported by external evidence whenever possible
  3. c)       Where possible, the story should be illustrated with clear examples.  If the story talks about behaviour then use video
  4. d)      Structurally, if possible, argue your result through thesis, antithesis and synthesis
  5. e)      They say that the Bible is the greatest story ever told but my final advice is ‘be brief’

I hope that’s enough to put you all to sleep!