One of the most common questions I get when I give a talk on storytelling for start-ups is how to expand the story all the way to the financial slides or business model slides. It seems unavoidable to be boring and dull while walking over those concepts. It is indeed, hard, to stretch the story, but the trick is to use the story as glue to connect all the different concepts. It’s like the flow of a river. Some parts of the river flow above ground, but at some points the water goes under and flows underneath the surface, just to reappear several kilometers later. The same happens with the use of a story during a pitch presentation. The story will be explicitly patent on some slides and will be use to illustrate the problem-solution duality for example, but will disappear, just to reemerge several slides later and keep the story moving at the same time as we deliver the content.
This TED talk from Karen Thompson Walker is an extraordinary example of how to do this. She starts with a story, injects content and thoughts, reattaches to the story during the middle of the talk, delivers more content, finishes her story and closes the talk with some final remarks.
Apart from being a fantastic example of the use of storytelling, she also gives a brief glimpse into the massive work storytellers do before putting a story to work:
“I spent months trying to figure out what would happen if the rotation of the Earth suddenly began to slow down. What would happen to our days? What would happen to our crops? What would happen to our minds?”
All this work and designing of the story’s universe wont appear in the book. Only small glimpses will be shown, but the work to build the universe on the storyteller’s mind is there and it’s not easy nor fast.
I recently read a fantastic post in the Atlantic on the lost of evidence. You can actually see how much editing a writer like Proust did to his books. Sadly, as the article says, the digital era is hiding this editing process and it seems the good things just happen in a matter of seconds when, in reality, they take a long time to craft.
Thanks to Roberto for sending this video my way!