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Manifesto for Storytelling

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

Stories are the oxygen for communication. Storytelling is a language that unites the world. It brings us together, helps us understand our past, and reach toward the future. A well-told story engages the mind, heart, and soul.

As Maya Angelou poignantly drove home, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel." There is also an ancient proverb saying, "Tell me a fact, and I'll learn. Tell me the truth, and I'll believe, but tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever."

Every culture has its own unique story and narratives to educate, entertain, preserve, and guide moral values; they communicate joy, passions, fears, sadness, and hardships. Like music, stories are universal. They convey purpose and meaning and help us understand ourselves and find common ground with others.

Storytelling makes meaningful connections across history and time, uniting people by helping them make sense of themselves and the world. Insights spread knowledge from one generation to another, linking traditions, legends, myths, archetypes, culture, history, and values, which unite communities and societies.

Purposeful storytelling means being clear about your audience. What do they care about? What stories will resonate best with them? Why should they care? What is your goal? Is it to entertain? Is it to inspire? Is it to excite? Is it to influence? What's the call to action that you want your audience to take away? Most importantly, how do you want to make them feel? A well-told story engages the mind, heart, and soul. A powerful narrative is built from simple principles.

1. Truth

Truth is how we connect emotionally with a story and relate it to ourselves. We can tell inspiring stories by bringing genuine moments to life and celebrating relationships between people rather than just facts about things. We look for meaning in stories because we tell stories; they don't reveal themselves.

2. Voice and Style

Our chosen voice and style have the potential to reveal meaning with ease or bury it in confusion. The right style and voice clarify the stories we tell, and what we say will be remembered.

3. Change

We exist in time. Our lives have beginnings, middles, and endings, filled with ups and downs, sudden reversals, and unexpected successes. Conflict is the engine of narrative; it's what keeps us listening. Details of the hope, frustration, and joy inherent in any journey deepen our narrative's impact.

4. Humanity

We tell stories to share and understand human experiences - building connections and passing on wisdom. From the Mesopotamia to the Incas civilizations, the clans of the Hebrides to the Galápagos Islands, around campfires, in poetry, song, and throughout venues, stories celebrate our shared humanity.

Learn more about how to create without frontiers by unleashing the creative power within us.

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Roy Sharples

Founder and CEO of Unknown Origins, a creative studio on a mission to save the world from unoriginality by unleashing the power of creativity. Author of "Creativity Without Frontiers: How to make the invisible visible by lighting the way into the future."

Photo credit: Brian Smale

Attitude. Imagination. Execution.

Unknown Origins. All rights reserved © copyright 2021

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