Using the storytelling technique in business communication appears to be the new cool kid on the block. But, there’s a secret about this storytelling business. It’s not a big secret, but people seem to want to discount it because it seems too simple. The truth is, there is one basic story pattern that humans around the world accept as a story (versus an anecdote, message or just a series of events). It is called the Hero’s Journey.
I did not make up the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell, the great philosopher and writer from the 1930s and 1940s is widely credited for examining it thoroughly and explaining why we are so drawn to this pattern. His book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, explores this monomyth, as he called it.
For business, the good news is you don’t have to follow all 17 – yes, 17! – steps of the Hero’s Journey to have effective business storytelling. The difference between classic storytelling and applying storytelling techniques to business communications often comes down to this: Storytelling in business does not require a full saga. You don’t have to take people through a narrative epic. There isn’t time for that anyway. Just one wrinkle can be enough to elevate an anecdote to story. But, it does have to be follow some basics.
First, know your purpose. You want to tell a story that is going to drive people to a place. What is the message you are trying to get across? What is the meaning of your story? Once you know that you are ready for your Hero’s Journey tale.
Over the next few days, I will explore the four necessary parts of the Hero’s Journey that a business or organization should use when using storytelling. (I will now apologize in advance that I am about to ruin your ability to watch a movie without running the steps in your head to see if the director knew what he was doing.)
The basic pattern goes like this: A hero is called to leave his common everyday life to explore the wonders of the world. Mystical forces are there encountered and a conclusive victory over an adversary is won. The hero returns from this mysterious adventure – forever changed and more powerful – and with this new power, understanding and wisdom, can (and does) bestow benefits and gifts upon his fellow man and the Universe is now a safer place. The End.
Sound familiar? What does this have to do with business and how on earth do you break that down into a communication that makes a positive change in your organization or business?
Tune in tomorrow and we’ll begin to break down the four main parts. And, you’ll see there are heroes all around us.