In this blog post we examine what makes a great storyteller and reveal the backstory of Manual Productions.

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A great story gives the facts a meaning

A great story gives the facts a meaning. You can not touch a person´s head without first touching their heart. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to share emotionless facts and hope to influence potential customers. We don´t remember figures, we remember how a certain thing made us feel. 

A great storyteller is someone who has the ability to link an emotional response to the idea, product or service she or he is talking about. In another words a great storyteller will make their audience feel. In todays data driven world it is easy to forget that people don´ t make decisions based on data or facts. In order to influence we need to create a personal connection between our audience and the facts we are presenting. In order to become an exceptional storyteller we need to tell stories which go straight to the amygdala. Fortunately many leaders have come to realize the importance of storytelling and have appointed CSO:s (Chief Storytelling Officers) to give their message a human touch. 

Emotion trumps logic. So does this mean that data is irrelevant? Absolutely not. In order to be an effective storyteller your story has to include a compelling narrative and facts to back your arguments. According to Carmine Gallo: “the worlds most inspiring educators devote 65% of their content to stories... ones they have connected they can educate.” 

Storytelling is in our DNA

A great storyteller knows how to set up a story. She or he knows how to structure a narrative. In our previous post In the Core of a Story we explored the structure of a narrative. Great storytelling however is more then just a narrative. It is very likely that you are already familiar with some of the stories of your favorite storytellers. Often the story starts with a challenge they faced. This leads them to question what to do next and takes them further into their struggle. In the end they come to a resolution. 

“The art of storytelling is the most powerful weapon in the war of ideas” Carmine Gallo

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My company Manual Productions is 8 months old, but the story of my company began two years ago. The story begins in Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland. It was the darkest time of the year and it was the darkest time of my life. My marriage had quite suddenly ended and after living ten years abroad I found myself back in Finland. There I was with two backpacks in my hands, very little money and absolutely no idea what to do next. I was completely lost. I had moved on my own at the age of fifteen but was now moving back to my parents house.

The dark winter months I spent in the village where my parents lived gave me valuable time to think. I realized I had to find a new, compelling future for myself. I started to ask myself questions of what would make me happy? My old life had ended, how was my new life going to look like? I knew that in order for me to feel fulfilled I had to create something of my own. Slowly the idea of starting my own company started to take shape. Ten years ago I had moved to England to study visual communication. I had always been a creative thinker and loved to solve problems and visualize ideas. 

With a small loan from my parents I moved to Helsinki. I applied for government funding for startups and got it. The loan from my parents was enough for me to buy some furniture to my new flat and a new computer and a camera. The grant from the government enabled me to pay my rent and living expenses. 

Even though I had a business plan, I had no idea of how to actually run a company. I had never studied business and knew nothing about how to approach clients. The upside was I had very little to loose. As long as I could pay my rent and could afford to buy food I was ok. I decided to put all my heart and passion into my business and focus completely on making it successful. Holidays, free time and other luxuries could wait. I was confident that I could make it work if I just gave it my all and was patient. 

To my delight I did get some clients. My first clients where friends of friends who needed photographs or some small design work. I realized I had a working business plan and more importantly I could offer a valuable service. With positive reinforcement my confidence grew which led me to be more daring with my ideas. This in return led people to give me more responsibility. I had started something and I was on track of fulfilling it. 

The next time you are about to take the stage, or give an important presentation remember that your audience consists of emotional human beings. We are wired to feel. Be brave enough to share your backstory which gives your vision a meaning and you will be more likely to touch your audience.