I was once given an assignment by a client to communicate the virtues aluminum to their primary customers, architects. This may not sound like a storytelling assignment, but it most definitely was.
The academic writing approach I could have taken -- and honestly, a few years ago I would have -- would be to stick to features and data. I would have started with something like, “Aluminum is a very versatile material that has many benefits to today’s architects.”
To give myself a little credit, I might have been a bit more creative than that, but not much. It would have read like a college sophomore’s 19th Century Literature term paper, and readers wouldn’t have made it past the second paragraph before deciding their time was better spent on watching “Jeopardy” reruns.
But as I began my research for the project, I quickly determined the project was indeed a storytelling exercise. Aluminum, it turns out, has a pretty interesting story.
It’s a metal that has a short history, dating back less than 200 years. Yet it has a long future, since it lasts basically forever and can be recycled indefinitely. Architects dig that kind of stuff, especially since they care about how their creations can endure the centuries.
My point in sharing this is not to beat my chest about having written this piece, though that is a nice benefit. It’s to point out that good stories can be found anywhere. You just have to see them how your audience might.
You might think stories about your company, industry, or process is boring or uninteresting. But there’s real beauty and significance in those details, and people might just be compelled by them.
Stories are everywhere. They permeate through your entire organization. All you have to do is find them, then tell them.