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How To Tell Stories That Matter

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Storytelling is either a form of art and a virtue, or a misunderstood gift.

Some of us are better at telling a story while others are better at using stories to sell. We all aim to be better at both.

Here are some of the best practices I collected from, well, the best at telling stories, all from a perspective I understand: Filmmaking.

Create a Connection

The power of storytelling goes beyond fabricating fables or headlines. A well-crafted story can move people to feel, to empathize, to care, and ultimately act. Those of us that believe in the power of story also believe we can create a connection with others, before selling products or services.

Find out how to tell your story online

Ashley Gutierrez, creative director and founder of Cliff Co., knows exactly how to tap into human emotions and make an impact.

Remember Kony 2012? If you do, you are perhaps one of the hundreds of millions of people who watched the film Ashley worked on for Invisible Children — arguably one of the most viral videos of all time. Beyond that, perhaps you are one of the many that actively promoted this cause, bought memorabilia, protested at rallies… all because the film that made you feel something.

"The Kony film was a testament to the power of storytelling and the relevance of online films." — MUSICBED BLOG 7.25.17

Stories are told many ways: through words, images, movements, and, above all, with purpose. All of us look for a place, a person, or a culture to be part of. We tell stories to connect to one another, and to help us identify that place, person, or culture to which we belong.

The goal is to find a connection. At any cost, and in any way possible.

Trust the Process

If you do not recognize the name Jennifer Lilly, you might recognize her work on Emmy-winning series Master of None (a personal favorite). Jennifer, Jen, or JenLil (I like to pretend we’re friends), edited the Netflix series and a handful of other successful films.

She believes that in order for you to tell better stories, you have to trust yourself, your instincts, and honor your personal process. In a recent interview for Filmsupply, Jen said:

“Be patient, trust your instincts, and honor the process. You have to take a deep breath and go through an edit step by step, and continually focus on what the story is about. What is it trying to say? And when you experience those moments where it’s all working — man, it’s like nothing else. It’s truly and genuinely exciting.”

So, trust yourself. And believe in your process.

Fail. And Repeat.

It may sound obvious, but you are not perfect, and you will fail sometimes. The important part is the knowledge you acquire during that process.

Another successful storyteller, J. K. Rowling, was rejected by 12 publishers before she gave us the most famous wizard of all times, Harry Potter. Nevertheless, she persisted (pun intended, if you can appreciate it).

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Telling stories that matter is not a process that is successful 100 percent of the time. It is a process that is constantly reinvented, purposefully, that should excited you, and that should teach something new. Because if you can be excited and believe in what you are producing, others will too.

Thank you for reading!

Aaron Burden

Illustration | GIF  by Petunia, @petuniadoodles on Instagram

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