Don’t we all pride ourselves as storytellers! Truth is that most of us are not, the reason being that when we tend to tell a story that ends up being an unfocused ramble instead of the awesome attention grabbing story that we had in our minds. I was always intrigued by this, a story sounds awesome in one’s mind but most of the time it falls flat when delivered to an audience.
So is storytelling an art or science, and can it be learnt? It is definitely not science but for sure an art, I strongly believe it is an innate ability like painting, drawing or singing which can be polished and perfected but not learnt from scratch. If not a natural storyteller it becomes contrived and painful to both the teller and listener.
Good storytellers understand the target audience, and tell the story so effectively that it just not captures attention but appeals to their sensibilities, kindles their emotions and challenges their imagination. It is never an easily discernible task to understand the audience’s mood, doesn’t matter if it is just one person or a large group, unless storyteller is a natural.
Example of great storytellers past and present:
There is no question about Steve Jobs being a great story teller but read an article that Edwin Land was his storytelling model. Is it possible for Steve Jobs to imitate or copy someone without himself being a natural? If we read his biographies both official and unofficial, we can clearly see a great storyteller who can easily appeal to people’s emotions, agreed we can also see that he can easily turn off people due to his obsessions but for the most part we’ve to agree he is one of the best storytellers of our time.
It was fascinating to read Benjamin Franklin’s biography [by Walter Isaacson, who also happens to be the official biographer for Steve Jobs], where he comes across as an enterprising entrepreneurial storyteller. I’m still reading, but was able to see his innate abilities where he was able to create consensus and achieve great heights both personal and professional.
I’ll continue to explore this intriguing topic…