The Storyteller

Avatar Jim Macdonald
October 07, 2014
I had a friend named Hank back in my old life as a cubical dweller in the corporate world.  Hank was the best storyteller I ever met.  He also had a loud, booming voice and usually his stories were filled with emotion, so everyone in the office knew when it was ‘story time’.  The amazing thing was that nobody was annoyed or put off by this, instead they were intrigued.  People would hear a story start and literally gather around his cubical to see how it would end.

Usually the story itself wasn’t anything out of the ordinary (speeding past the police on an interstate or buying a new car), but the way he told it was the draw.  What was it about his storytelling that made people want to listen?  I broke it down to its root, which was emotional engagement.  Sometimes his stories were funny, sometimes they were sad.  They were exciting, a little suggestive, and sometimes even scary.  But they were always, always engaging.

That’s why people traveled from far and wide in our little cubical town to hear Hank tell a story.  They wanted to be engaged.  His descriptions were so clear, you could picture the story unfolding in your mind.  Even if you were present at the event he was recounting, you couldn’t tell the story with the same emotion and attention to detail.  It was a gift.

So that was about twenty years ago, and a lot has changed.  He’s retired and I left corporate life back in the ‘90’s.  But the stories remain, and I still smile to myself when I think about them.  The lesson is simple.  Good stories engage the audience at an emotional level.  So when your company or brand gets an opportunity to capture an audience, take it.  Tell a story.  Be engaging.  Elicit emotion with your audience.  I still remember some of Hank’s stories from twenty years ago, and that’s the power of great storytelling.
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