Think about some of the most iconic moments in history. The moon landing. The fall of the Berlin Wall. 9/11. These events are seared into our collective memory not just because they were momentous occasions, but because they had good stories attached to them.
As a freelancer, you might not be changing the world (yet), but you can still use stories to your advantage. Think about the problems you solve for your clients, or the unique insights you offer into their businesses. Whether you’re writing a blog post, making a presentation, or crafting sales copy, crafting good stories is the key to getting people’s attention and inspiring them to care about what you have to say.
In today’s post, I’m going to share some tips for using stories effectively in your work as a freelancer. Let’s dive in!
Why Good Stories Matter: How to Use Them to Make Your Audience Care
The Power of Storytelling
Humans have been telling stories since the dawn of time. It’s a deeply ingrained part of who we are as a species. Storytelling is how we make sense of the world and connect with others on a deeper level. When you tell a story, you’re not just communicating facts—you’re creating an emotional connection with your audience. And that emotional connection is what gets people to care about what you’re saying.
The best way to understand the power of storytelling is to look at some examples. Let’s say you’re trying to raise money for a new NGO that provides education for girls in Afghanistan. You could give your donors a long list of statistics about gender inequality in the country, or you could tell them the story of Malala Yousafzai, a young girl who was shot by the Taliban for going to school. Which one do you think would be more effective?
Chances are, it would be the latter. When you tell a story, people can visualize what’s happening and put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They can understand the problem on a personal level and feel motivated to take action.
How to Use Stories in Your Writing
Now that we’ve talked about why stories are so powerful, let’s talk about how you can use them in your own writing. Not all the time, of course—stories are best when used sparingly, but when you do use them, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Understand what makes a good story
At its core, a good story has three key elements: a protagonist, an obstacle or challenge that the protagonist must overcome, and a satisfying resolution at the end. This formula works in all kinds of writing, from marketing copy to blog posts.
Identify your audience
What are the struggles and challenges they face on a daily basis? How can you relate those struggles to your own experiences or those of others? Remember that it’s not always about you—your story should be relevant, relatable, and useful for your readers.
Pay attention to structure
Stories have a specific narrative flow that can be broken down into different parts. Think of it as an inverted pyramid, with the most important information (the resolution) at the top and the least important information (the details) at the bottom. If you’re using your story to make a point or persuade someone, keep this structure in mind when you write.
Start with a captivating beginning
You want your readers to be hooked right from the beginning, so make sure that your first few sentences draw them in and get them interested in what you have to say. This is where vivid imagery and strong language come in handy—use them to paint a picture of your story in their minds.
Use descriptive language
When people are reading a story, they want to feel like they’re transported into another world. You can create this feeling by using descriptive language that engages all five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) to help your audience visualize the setting, characters, and emotions of your story.
Use emotion to engage your audience
Remember, the whole point of telling a story is to connect with people on an emotional level. So don’t be afraid to use words that elicit feeling—whether it’s happiness, sadness, anger, or excitement. People can easily relate to these emotions, and they’re what drive us to take action.
At the end of the day, a good story will always make an impact on your readers, whether it’s a campaign fundraising email or a blog post about how medical research is changing lives. And emotion is the key to getting people invested in what you have to say.
Make it relatable
The more relatable your story is, the easier it will be for people to connect with it on an emotional level. Imagine telling a story about the challenges facing young people in your community—could you relate it to something that’s happening in your own life or someone else’s?
Remember, everyone has struggles and challenges, even if they’re different from yours. By finding common ground between yourself and your readers, you can help them understand how your story applies to their lives. Authenticity and vulnerability will go a long way in creating an engaging story.
Keep it concise
No one wants to read a 10-page essay on why education is important (at least not unless they’re already interested in the topic). Try to keep your stories focused and free from unnecessary details so that people can easily follow along and understand what’s happening.
Once you have these elements in place, you can start weaving them into your professional communications. Whether it’s a blog post on your website, an email to potential clients, or a pitch deck for a new business proposal, using good stories will help you connect with your audience on an emotional level. And that’s what great writing is all about.
Stories have been used since ancient times as a way to connect with others and make sense of the world around us—and there’s a reason why they’ve stuck around for so long! In today’s noisy world, it can be hard to break through the clutter and get people invested in what you’re saying—but stories have the power to do just that by creating an emotional connection between you and your audience.
Next time you look to write a piece of content or craft an email campaign, think about how you can use stories to engage your readers and help them understand why what you’re saying is important. With the right approach, telling good stories can be one of the most effective ways to connect with others and make an impact on those that matter.