Storytelling began in pre-historic times. For writers, communicators and business owners, storytelling helps you keep the audience or reader glued in and find an emotional connect. Many tend to believe that storytelling skills are an exotic mumbo-jumbo that cannot be taught. But, the reality is, authentic and inclusive storytelling makes your leadership future-proof. How can you do that? What storytelling skills are critical for your success? Read further to find out for yourself!
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10 Ultimate Storytelling Skills That Will Set Your Communication Apart
1. Brevity: If you can make your point in one sentence, please do it. For online content, it’s relatively easy to think through benchmarks. For creative writing, break the rules, but still ensure you’re honest to the piece. There are few writers who can do exceptional work without spending a lot of time editing their pieces. The process of editing often leads to clarity and thus better engagement.
- Ideal blogpost length: 1600 words
- Ideal Tweet length: 71-100 characters
- Ideal Facebook post length: 40 Characters
- Ideal YouTube video length: 3 minutes (shorts are probably 30 seconds or so)
- Ideal Podcast length: 22 minutes (similar to office driving distance in pre-covid times)
2. Observation: Learn to observe the world and the people around you. The best stories are those that draw from the world around you and make people relate to the characters. For your personal brands, use the OPPT (observe, practice, partner, take responsibility) method. Learn more about it in our Blue Sky DIVE program.
3. Humor: Nobody can resist humor. The easiest way to win people over is through some fun. But there are different types of humor ranging from self-deprecating to scatological. Use what suits your personality and do not try to be someone else. Humor can also be used inappropriately, so never make an attempt to isolate anyone by being offensive. The world needs compassion and kindness.
4. Suspense: A good story has suspense. It does not have to be a detective story. But every story can have a twist. You just need to keep people guessing. Isn’t that fun?
5. Evocation: It helps if you can write using evocative language. Our brains react wonderfully well to textures, sounds and language that helps us imagine better.
6. Empathy: This is one of those storytelling skills that will come in handy to you as a person, not just a writer or communicator. Ann Handley calls for “pathological empathy” in her book, Everybody writes. You want to be a person that everyone wants to work with and trust. Besides, empathy also allows you to stay authentic in your storytelling efforts.
7. Knowledge: It’s hard to be a thought leader in your industry or a good writer without enough research and work. Try to be a good reader to become a good storyteller. Our stories and content are enriched by details, knowledge snippets, examples and real-world knowledge.
8. Timing: There’s a right spot and time for everything. Figure out when to elaborate on something and when to hold back for good final impact in your writing.
9. Rigor: Being a writer or a brand storyteller is a lot of hard work. You may encounter failure at times. Be strong and persistent. You need to test and try. Be disciplined and write every day. Read about other great writers who had to struggle too. Use tools to test your storytelling. Invest in trainings to learn more from other experts and thought leaders. Try, more.
10. Market Intelligence: Understand your readers and their needs. This can help you achieve the success that you seek. In our writing courses, we often talk about reader research. There are no short cuts to good writing. It works when you work.
What are your tips for improved storytelling? Which storytelling skills do you consider particularly important? Do share them with us!
Don’t forget to sign up for our amazing storytelling workshops. Start here to learn the new storytelling techniques and skills that help you create amazing brands, projects, or books!
This post was originally written by Brandanew staff writer Enakshi Sharma in December 2015. It was edited and reproduced for Peerbagh in 2023.