Language is one of the most important aspects of our culture. Early communication among humans was limited to characters and drawings. Gradually, we learned how to form more sophisticated versions of these symbols into words. And words were formed into sentences which lead to the ability to write stories.
Today, we’re still storytelling. Stories usually impact our communication most effectively. They’re more memorable than facts alone and they evoke some type of emotional response for the reader.
Our agency is filled with storytellers. You read many of them here, in our Mindscape blog. Our stories span many topics, but the intention is consistent. We’re trying to help our partners better understand their businesses, their clients or working with us. And in a way that informs, has meaning and provides inspiration.
I’m teaching an undergraduate advertising class right now. When talking about this concept of storytelling, I started to think about how our language has evolved in the last couple of decades and the impact this has on the stories we tell.
Who we are and the language we use is a result of a number of factors. Where/when we grew up, how we were raised, who we are, why we are communicating and what we do. Read my last sentence….I’m trained as a journalist and that’s classic journalism style: the 5 w’s and the h. It’s ingrained in me!
And that’s ok. Your words, your language and your emotion are all important to telling your story. Just like the language and style of how a brand tells stories or shares messages.
My co-workers on our digital marketing team focus on this when we work with clients (we call them partners). They research and research more on how and where people are online. And then they discover how they receive or take in information (we call this their persona). This then results in a brand which informs well, keeps their customers engaged and provides value.
You can do this too. Whether you’re trying to persuade a co-worker to help you out with a project; trying to inspire your child to perform better in school or trying to share affection with a close friend.
Know your audience
- Send them a message in a place they’re likely to be.
- Write or speak in language that will get their attention.
- Ask them to take action – be subtle when you need to be or overt when it’s important.
- Listen. Provide feedback.
Effective communication skills (and storytelling) is an asset. But it’s a skill that needs to be continuously practiced. And most of us get to do this daily, many times. Don’t try to be all to everyone, be yourself to the specific person you’re communicating with.