#StartYourStory: Thinking in Stories

#StartYourStory is an ongoing series that explores storytelling lessons from popular media and how we can apply them to branding our organizations and businesses.

By Sedora Tantraphol

It’s funny—some people label themselves as Storytellers and some people label themselves as Definitely Not Storytellers. Our job as communications consultants and storytellers is to help clients understand that they are in fact storytellers—we just need to find the right way to tell their story.

Some clients tell their stories quickly, glossing over details that we need to coax out to give texture and substance to their tale. Others can give the 20-hour, 8-movie Harry Potter series a run for its money, and we have to distill the story down until it is short and easy to understand. Some clients think in visuals while others think in numbers and data, and we have to translate this into a narrative.

Bottom line, #TeamMoonsail sees stories everywhere, and everyone as a storyteller.

I recently read an article about babies’ brains being wired to understand and learn any language during infancy, but this ability to discern different sounds goes away if they are only exposed to one language. That got me thinking about whether that was the same for the skill of storytelling. We’re constantly surrounded by stories — on the news, radio, internet, and from friends and family. But sometimes we don’t recognize them as stories, and we tell ourselves that cranking out formulaic reports and spreadsheets means we’re not storytellers. Just as language shapes the way we think — from perceiving colors to feeling emotions to describing time and space and experiences in relation to ourselves — whether we see ourselves as storytellers and how often we practice storytelling impacts the quality of the stories we tell.

Humans are wired to tell stories — from cave drawings to campfire stories, tribal oral histories passed down reverently to casual updates over coffee with friends — storytelling is what we do. We just need to practice thinking in story. What’s the lede? What details should be edited out or enhanced? We need to practice looking for opportunities to infuse storytelling in our lives: from out of office messages to reports, any place could be a chance for you to practice your storytelling, especially if you’re in an industry or job where creativity isn’t explicitly in your job description.

So, to all the storytellers out there, whether you consider yourself one or not, start thinking in story and #StartYourStory.

After all, we are the stories we tell ourselves.