Have you ever watched a video on YouTube double-time or even 1.5 times? Have you ever been a part of a presentation where you started nodding off? If not, congratulations! If so, you are not alone. Telling an engaging story is difficult, telling it quickly and still getting the message across takes discipline, art, and a little science.
If your audience is like most people, you have to have them at hello! But how can you catch them that quickly, that is where the discipline, art, and science converge. That perfect Fluffernutter sandwich, a favorite since 1917.
The ten steps below will help you to tell your story in 30 seconds.
- Target Market: Before you can create a story or make a sandwich, you have to think about what ingredients you are going to use. Gathering data about your target market is the perfect start. It’s the list-building of what items you need to make your sandwich. The type of bread (whole wheat, white, sourdough), the type of peanut butter (crunchy vs creamy), the type of jelly, in this example its fluff.
- Tone: Now that you have defined who your audience is, how are you going to wow! Them? Having insights about your target market is the perfect start. But the data is only as good as how it is applied. To be effective, you need to evoke emotions and elicit a response in order to communicate your message. What emotions you trying to connect with will influence the tone of your story. The tone is conveyed through the words that you use. Tone can be formal, informal, serious, comic, sarcastic, sad, or cheerful, or it may be any other existing attitude. Tone gives a voice to your story and guides readers on how they should feel when hearing or reading the story. It’s like the peanut butter foundation. Are you looking for a creamy, smooth story or one that has a bit more crunch? Think a little about your tone before you add the fluff.
- Add The Fluff. Start with just writing your story by asking yourself what you want to say. Where does your story take place and what do you want your audience to get out of the story? What do you want them to do after hearing your story? If you have a hard time writing, try talking into your phone and recording yourself. That gives you a place to start, now you can edit. Try to keep your story to 30 seconds, no more than a minute – you may have to have a few takes.
- Spread The Fluff: Once you have recorded yourself. Try using a translator software to convert your audio file into text, there are a lot of free options.
- Cut The Crust. Based on the length of your story, it is likely time to make some edits. Cut off the crusts so to speak. Think back to English class and review your story for edits:
- Cut unnecessary adverbs. These are usually the –ly words. Replace them with strong verbs.
- Cut most adjectives. Sometimes we describe something to create a visual. Make sure that the description is necessary. Remember, you can include visuals to support your story.
- Use contractions, i.e. it’s, your’s, our’s, aren’t but not ain’t. This is a simple cheat that can cut a word or two if you need to be exact.
- Remember, “conjunction junction, what’s your function?” For short stories, it’s best to remove conjunctions (and, then, but, however, or, even). Make your sentences a mixture of long and short.
- Cut unnecessary words. If you delete a word, will it change the meaning of the sentence? If the answer is no, delete it. Be pleasantly direct and minimize words like “that, the, like, pretty, and very”
- Choose The Right Place. You’ve put a lot of effort into making that sandwich, but you wouldn’t put it in a cup or a bowl to eat it..you’d likely choose a plate right? The same goes for your story. You have to choose the right channels. Is your audience on LinkedIn, YouTube, visiting your website, reading your email, or meeting you in person? This might change how you make your sandwich..and absolutely impacts how you write your story.
- Visuals: You’re short on time, need to be simple, original and succinct; the best way to do that is through visuals. Visuals are the photo-op for your sandwich. Visuals connect the science and design of storytelling. People absorb visual information the fastest and can help catch the eye of the viewer. That is where the design and art come to play. You want to make sure your visuals reflect your story and incorporate at least the basic design principles. You also want to make sure you name them properly when you save them and size them appropriately so that they are recognized by and optimized for search engines, that is the science side.
Great stories include a character, a problem or challenge, and a solution or justification. Just as great sandwiches, they need someone who is interested in eating them – so it all circles back to your target audience. Using the sandwich effect, start with the data, fill with the design that connects and evokes emotion and end with the data to measure and reflect for future stories. Congrats! In seven short steps, you’ve created a beautiful sandwich. Enjoy!
Interested in any other metaphorical marketing topics on the art and science of marketing? Say hello and let me know what topic you’re interested in or a metaphor challenge you’d like to see tackled. Until next time, enjoy that heavenly sweet and savory taste of your version of the fluffernutter.