Before I read STORIES THAT STICK (subtitled How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business)on a flight to Scotland for an 8-day tour, I thought I knew pretty much everything I needed to about storytelling. I mean, I’ve studied and taught narrative writing for years. I’ve written dozens of stories and told hundreds. I know storytelling is important.
I didn’t know how important.
Kindra Hall clarifies the value of storytelling in ways I have never seen before. Though largely pitched to her corporate clientele, her book could also be read as a guide on how to become a more interesting person.
On my trip, I was lucky enough to see her engaging and practical ideas in action.
From the moment I met our tour guide, Jodie A. Stalker (Yes, that is her real name, and no, I’m not changing it because she is hilarious and brilliant and deserves all of the recognition she can get), it was clear to me that even if she hadn’t read this book yet, she already understood its lessons on how storytelling can captivate and motivate an audience. For example, I’ve never been curious about Mary, Queen of Scots before, but (or as Jodie would say, as a complete sentence, “But!”) once Jodie began narrating the story of Mary’s life, I could not shut my eyes, no matter how drowsy I felt on the tour bus after a hearty lunch that involved a giant scone topped with whipped cream and jam. Jodie’s rendition of Shakespeare’s Macbeth (which included Lady Macbeth “going slappity-slap-slap” to persuade Macbeth to murder Duncan) was priceless, and the contrast with Macbeth’s and Duncan’s true stories (also told with wit and aplomb) became stickier as a result.
At one point, Jodie handed us off to another guide, a woman apparently trained in guiding that was more descriptive than narrative. She was lovely and earnest. But! I found myself looking around, wondering where the stories were.
Anyway, back to the book: I love how Ms. Hall frames stories. They’re not “Beginning, Middle, End,” but “Normal, Explosion, New Normal”— a great solution for writers who’ve wrestled with the question: “What happens in the middle?”
My New Normal will involve stories. Lots and lots of stories.
PS—Many thanks to Sandy Gingras for this recommendation. And to Jodie A. Stalker for modeling the behavior, as we say in the field of education.