1-Sentence-Summary: Storyworthy shows you how to tell a narrative that will impact others by outlining how to engage your audience throughout the start, end, and everything in between.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Whether it’s around campfires and movie screens or in the boardroom, we all love compelling stories. When people share them the right way, they stay in our minds and affect our actions and desires. But not everyone can be a great storyteller, can they?
The truth is that even if you think you’re bad at it, you can learn this valuable skill that will make you more likable. You’ve only struggled with it before because you didn’t have the right people teaching you.
That’s where Matthew Dicks, a bestselling novelist, comes in to save the day with his book Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling. In it, you’ll discover all sorts of useful tools and tips to help you craft a perfectly compelling tale that will inspire others.
Here are the 3 biggest lessons I’ve learned from this book:
- Include a transformation and make sure that you are the protagonist of the story.
- Don’t go crazy with your performance when telling a tale.
- The center of every great experience is only a five-second moment in your life.
Doth mother know thou art wearing her drapes? Just kidding! Let’s see how to actually tell compelling stories!
Lesson 1: Share stories where the person telling it is the protagonist and make sure you include a transformation.
The author is good at helping all kinds of people share their experiences. It doesn’t matter if they are a CEO or grandparent, everybody wants to improve their communication skills and engage with their people and he can help them do it.
If you want to tell good tales, however, you need to strictly follow at least a couple of rules.
For one, don’t just share events. You need to include, at least in some way, a change that something or someone experiences. It doesn’t have to be about self-improvement or big though, just so long as it’s there.
Consider the very worst movies you’ve seen and you can probably recognize that even those have this element in them.
I used to tell stories to coworkers that would fall flat and make me feel awkward. Now I can see that without a transformation, they were just anecdotes. Nobody cared because, without this critical element, they didn’t leave an impression on anyone.
You also need to make sure that you are the protagonist in every story you tell. People would rather hear about your experiences than those of a friend.
This is because there is an inherent grittiness and vulnerability of sharing something personal. You have to have courage to tell your story but don’t if you’re sharing someone else’s. This is highly valuable to and makes a mark on your audience.
Lesson 2: You don’t need to be theatrical when storytelling.
When sharing a story, one important way to determine its shareability is the dinner test. Simply ask yourself “Would I recount this to a friend at dinner?” If not, then don’t share it!
Remember to perform your story as you would share it with a friend, regardless of whether you’re sharing it at work or church or anywhere else.
Some storytellers go to great lengths to act the drama out themselves. Some share hand gestures to emphasize how ideas came to them, for example. Remember, this isn’t theater class.
This is awkward and only takes away from the power of their message. Consider, for instance, how you would feel if your friend did this while at the dinner table. Chances are you’d probably not invite them to eat with you ever again!
Others will add needless poetic ornamentations to their tales, whether on stage or in writing. Again, use the dinner test to determine how this affects your audience. How awkward would it be if your dinner companion used flowery language?
You’re not reading poetry, you’re sharing a story!
The vital mistake that most who use these awkward elements in their stories make is that they assume their audience wants a performance. What they’d really like to see is that you’re sharing from your heart so they can connect with you.
It’s good that they feel that you’re speaking naturally, as if it’s not practiced. When you add embellishments like these, you lose that valuable aspect of how they see you.
Lesson 3: Just five-seconds of the experience is the center of every great story.
One of the author’s greatest secrets is to focus on the climax of the story. In his experience, this usually involves a simple, five-second moment in which a person’s life changes forever.
Think about the experiences you’ve heard of others that really stuck with you. What were they about? Critical life changes like finding their true love, discovering their passions, or realizing they’d chosen the wrong career.
The power of these nuggets is that they are instantaneous, tiny, and highly transformative. Most of all, however, they are relatable. Everyone knows what love, loss, despair, hope, and other emotions feel like.
When you can evoke those feelings in others by sharing your own most poignant five-second experiences with them, you’ll make the biggest impact.
The author has a story that he shares to make this point. During a car crash in his teenage years, he was badly injured. His legs got smashed by the dashboard as his upper body flew through the windshield. But this isn’t his five-second moment.
It came later actually, while he was in the hospital. Disturbingly, his parents cared more about the state of the car than their son’s condition. That meant he was all alone when it was time to go into surgery.
He began to drown in despair and loneliness until his friends showed up to encourage him right before he went into surgery. This was his transformative moment because it epitomizes a crucial realization and mindset shift for the author.
And it’s what other people remember most every time he shares it.
I really enjoyed this book. After reading a lot of books about the power of storytelling, I’m pretty used to the typical advice, but Storyworthy gives a ton of great new ideas. Anyone can benefit from them too because no matter your career or lifestyle this is an important aspect of life!
Who would I recommend the Storyworthy summary to?
The 32-year-old blogger who has a difficult time hooking their readers at the beginning of their posts, the 58-year-old keynote speaker, and anyone that wants to improve their persuasion skills.