- The philosopher Plato once said that those who tell the stories rule society. They do that because they motivate people. They motivate people to listen. They motivate people to make changes. You've seen how to build a story through different techniques that help engage your audience. Now it's time to bring it all together and get your audience to act. You want that level of engagement to turn into something that motivates your audience to make changes. There are seven steps that lead your audience into taking action.
Each one builds on the other and ends with a new action item. You'll want your story to motivate your audience to try something new. The first step is knowing your audience. You need to first figure out what motivates them. If you can pinpoint their needs, then you can tailor the story to appeal to what they want. The second step is to create an emotional connection. Use personal anecdotes and short vignettes to appeal to them on an emotional level.
The third step is to provide some context. You can't talk about where you want to go, without talking about where you've already been. Have them understand why there's a need to try something new. The fourth step is to make your audience care about your characters and plot. If the audience doesn't care about the story, then it's unlikely they'll be motivated to act. The fifth step is to use metaphors to make the change seem familiar. You don't want your audience afraid to take action.
A good metaphor will ease your audience into accepting something new. The sixth step is to use a very clear contrast. Create a contrast that shows where they are, and where they need to go. This could be a new product or service. It might even be a data story that shows that the organization should stop doing something. Finally, the seventh step is a clear call to action. If you've done a good job with the previous steps, then the audience will be ready to take some new action.
You'll need to state clearly what you want them to do differently. Let's think about how we can use this seven-step process to tell a story about our running shoe website. Imagine that your team has evidence that customers are hesitant to buy shoes online. The data suggest that some customers are making frequent returns and then buying shoes somewhere else. The team asks some interesting questions and now the research lead wants to tell a story. She starts out by creating a fictional customer who represents what they're seeing in the data.
The customer buys everything online, but even with the company's generous return policy, this customer still finds it frustrating to not be able to try the shoe on. She tells a story about how the company can expect an uptick in sales if they create some new storefronts in some larger cities. The team uses their critical thinking skills to argue that many organizations are experimenting with traditional storefronts. She also creates the context that the website is losing potential customers, then uses the metaphor, brick-and-mortar stores, and a virtual store in the cloud.
In her story, she says that she wants to get the best of both of these stores. Then she creates a plot of building these storefronts, and connecting the customer to these two experiences. She follows the structure of a typical quest plot. She tells the story about the organization going somewhere new. Then she lays out a very clear contrast between the current website and a beautiful, new storefront. Finally, she ends the story with a call to action. She wants the audience to create a budget for this new venture.
Then she mixes in all of these elements, to motivate the audience to make changes. Make sure that you don't skip this step. You want to motivate your audience to take on a very clear and immediate call to action.
- List the five threads your team should focus on when spinning a yarn.
- Explain the benefits of using scenarios as story helpers.
- Explore how using conflict in a story can captivate your audience.
- Determine how details will enhance a story and make it memorable.
- Recall the downfalls of using too many visualizations.
- Define vision in the context of data-science storytelling.
- Recognize the features of good storytelling.