In thinking about great stories that last, the question arises how to spread an idea into the next generation. Let’s explore several methods to tell YOUR story, ensuring it will stand the test of time.
Think about stories you’ve read or heard in books, movies and TV shows. In your mind, which stories survived more than one generation without losing crowd appeal. Chances are, these pivotal stories have a few things in common. Using these clues, you can tell your story in a manner that will last generations.
- Stories of Courage. Intrinsically, we find ourselves rooting for the underdog, hoping to see them triumph in the face of danger, opposition and resistance. We love a storyline that we can relate to; one that tells us that anything is possible for the one who simply tries!PONDER: What obstacles have you faced in your journey that you have overcome and how have they shaped you?
- Stories that Shape a New Identity. Often, we will find a storyline that chronicles the main character’s journey out of their home and/or comfort zone to discover who they truly are. They will likely venture back with their new revelation and identity, sharing with their family and friends as their journey brings new life to entire communities!PONDER: What has your journey looked like, and how did your story impact those around you?
- Stories of Incredible Transformation. We love a story with a “metamorphosis” moment, where suddenly the struggles give way to something beautiful and redemptive. We see the tension birthed something that wouldn’t have come about without the trials.PONDER: What have the trials you’ve faced produced in your life, and how have they transformed you?
So, we have an understanding of what makes a story worth telling. Now what? Well, let’s explore 3 of the most popular methods for telling a story that will last beyond the next generation.
Books are a tried and true method of communicating ideas, as they have a degree of permanence. People worldwide like to spend time with books, and constantly look to books for sources of inspiration and knowledge. Books are also translatable, thereby making it easy to spread ideas to the far corners of the globe. There are a few primary methods of communicating ideas through books. Let’s explore a few writing styles for non-fiction books to effectively communicate your legacy:
- Research & Conclusion: This style will present research findings followed by a conclusion. A few popular books using this style of writing includes, Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, and Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.
- Parable: Make your points by crafting a fictional story, told in the form of a parable (“A simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson”). Some best-selling examples of this style are, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, and The Angel Inside by Chris Widener.
- Life Story: Making a point through the re-telling of an extraordinary life story is very popular. A stunning example of this is: Beyond Survival: Building on the Hard Times – a POW’s Inspiring Story by Gerald Coffee, Captain US Navy (Ret)
Many people lead busy lives, and they often turn to various forms of media to listen, watch or read a story. These idea-spreading vehicles each come with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages, as well as very different audiences. Not to mention the size of the reach you can accomplish in spreading your ideas. Picking a Media outlet depends on your target audience, followed by how many people you would like to reach.
- Radio: This is a fabulous way to “get your feet wet” in the speaking arena, as you have a specific window of opportunity to reach people. Most people will not look at a radio schedule, but rather tune in when it is convenient for them (in the car, on their lunch break, or on a casual weekend morning).
- TV: Similar to Radio, TV offers you a chance to reach viewers at specific times, with the added benefit of engaging their sense of sight. Often, television audiences can be quite large.
- Magazines / Blogs / Newspapers: Blogging is a fairly simple method to tell your story. It is relatively simple to set up, easy to use and can be used for various marketing purposes. The greatest benefit of the Blog medium is that there is no “expiration date” or specific time your audience must tune in. Getting your writing into Magazines or Newspapers has a definite appeal and credibility factor. Many authors and speakers have seen exponential reputation gains by simply publishing their articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Inc. Magazine, Forbes or Business Week.
- Podcast: If the rapid growth and popularity of TED Talks over the past few years tells us anything, it’s that podcasts are on the rise, and fast. You have the ability to reach a gigantic audience, at any time of day.
Speaking is the single most effective form of spreading ideas, but is limited to the number of people in attendance. It is important to note, however, that with media (Radio or TV), your audience expands to hundreds of thousands or even millions.
Whatever medium you choose, especially those that involve public speaking on the spot, you must remember that it takes time to rehearse and feel comfortable. Rehearse like a solo violist or an Olympian. Getting TED worthy should be your goal. It looks “natural”, but it’s the byproduct of hours of rehearsal coupled with the knowledge of communication styles.
Remember, creating a legacy won’t happen overnight. Put in the time and set a 5-year course. Be faithful with what you’ve been given, and do everything 100%. One day, your children’s children will reap the benefit, and you’ll be remembered for your patience, humility, honesty and eagerness to learn.
Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing and the host of the Book Publishing Success podcast show. Bryan works with best-selling business authors, including NYT best-selling authors Chris Widener and Tom Hopkins, plus up-and-coming authors including Johnny Covey. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book on converting website visitors into buyers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.