Use Story-Based Blogging to Engage Your Audience
“Don’t bother me for a while, okay?” She needn’t explain. I know when my wife is immersed in that enticing juncture of a great novel. It’s not that she doesn’t want me around; she just doesn’t want to be distracted from what’s coming next. She’s totally into it. I’ll bet you’ve been there too.
What is it about certain books, movies, songs, plays and presentations that have overwhelming power to resonate deeply with us and in so doing engage our emotions and transform our behavior? The answer, I believe, is in the art of effective storytelling.
I’m on this story-based blogging journey myself. It started with a blog by Jeffrey L. Cohen that led to watching a Nancy Duarte TEDx video that in turn led to becoming totally (don’t bother me now) immersed in her new book: Resonate – Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences. While her work on this topic is about making persuasive speaking presentations, the concepts and principles are transferrable to blogging or any other form of persuasive communications.
Here are a few concepts of blog storytelling that can help your audience get better engaged with your ideas:
Understand and apply the basic structure of an effective story
In its simplest form all stories have a beginning, middle and end. In the beginning we’re presented with the protagonist’s (hero’s) desire to reach a certain goal. But along the way there’s conflict and tension, opposing forces that threaten to derail the dream. There are twists and turns, ups and downs until finally, after some dramatic turning point, our hero breaks through and learns her lesson, reaches her new state of being. The post by Achim Thiemermann, What Drama Musicals Can Teach Us About Great Blog Writing is a terrific resource on this.
Mentor your audience through a journey of what is vs. what could be
In Resonate, Ms. Duarte exhorts storytellers not to view themselves as the hero of the story, but one who is helping guide, give confidence, insight, advice or training along the way. “The audience,” she says, “is the hero.” The blogger’s job is not to show how brilliant he/she is, but taking a position of humility help move the reader from a state of current reality to, what Nancy terms, the “new bliss.” Stories of your journey in that regard, or of someone else they can identify with, is a powerful vehicle to convey how change in others with similar challenges can, and do become reality.
Use the element of contrast to gain rapt attention
We’re wired for contrast. A common thread in all engaging stories is the comparison of one idea to another, one way of doing it to the, new idea way. Using this element of contrast in story-based blogging structure will enable your readers to engage, at an emotional level with the idea you want to see adopted and spread.
What does compelling, remarkable content look like? Remarkable content stands out because it’s different, it clashes. “Don’t blend in,” writes Duarte, “clash with your environment (and be vulnerable). Stand out. Be uniquely different.” Let this principle of comparing and contrasting through storytelling help an audience visualize what’s possible for them to attain – because they’ve seen how it’s worked out for others.
Here’s the main thing. You have the power to start a groundswell of support for your idea. Your ability to engage your audience with story-based blogging is literally at your fingertips, it flows from your unique experiences.
On my birthday this past summer, I found myself wandering the streets of my home town, Minneapolis. A guy who looked to be 5-8 years my senior walked up to me on a secluded street corner. Holding a shinny object he thrust his hand toward me. Before I could react he boldly asked, “What kind of music do you like?”
I was caught so off-guard, but in a euphoric state of mind, believing nothing evil would befall me today replied, “I like all kinds of music, why?” “Well said the man, because I’d like you to buy this CD, it’s my last one (‘ya sure, you betcha’ the Minnesotan in me thought) and it will help my Son and it will help me - it’s only $10.” “Ah, well I like classic rock,” I retorted, thinking this would be the end of it and I’d be moving on down the road. “Perfect,” said the man, “this music is classic rock, it’s your kind of music!”
“You see,” he continued, “my Son is trying to make it in this band and I’m trying to keep out of trouble. He has this idea of making and sharing his brand of classic rock and he’s giving me 20% of what I sell.”
No longer in fear for my life, instead I saw hope in the eyes of a man who had known trouble and way too much hardship. “I like your idea,” I said. We talked a while longer. I shared it was my 60th birthday and in surprise, Emanuel said, “I can’t believe it, you look younger than me, I’m 53!” “Well,” I replied, “it was great meeting you, best of luck to your Son, and keep out of trouble.” “Oh, I will,” he said, “and you’re going to love the music.” And I surely did. (Even though it wasn’t exactly my style of classic rock, surprise-surprise!)
So what’s your idea, your story? Do you have the courage to tell it, to be vulnerable? You have the power to create your future – to win us over to your idea. And there’s nothing better or more rewarding than that.
Need to get some blog articles written? Check out B2B Inbound’s blog article writing plans most of which include story-based blogs.