“Digital storytelling" describes the practice of using digital tools to tell a story, hence, you can look at it as a kind of modern extension of the ancient art of storytelling, now interwoven with digitized still and moving images as well as sound that make story telling even more impressive with interactive elements.
In general, the term can cover a range of digital narratives, such as web-based stories, interactive stories, hypertexts, or narrative computer games, and is sometimes even used to refer to film-making or describes advertising and promotion efforts. In short, digital storytelling is the process by which diverse people share their life story and creative imagination with others and this newer form of storytelling emerged with the advent of accessible media production techniques, new hardware and software that allow individuals to share their stories easily over the Internet on YouTube, Vimeo, podcasts or other electronic distribution systems. Simply put, digital stories are multimedia movies that combine photographs, video, animation, sound, music, text, and often a narrative voice.
Why stories work better
Stories go directly into the subconscious of the brain, they stick, are timeless, cost effective, easy to produce, and are literally ‘infectious’. The gatekeeper of the brain (the amygdala) does not like dry facts or PowerPoint and allows only stories to go through. We need stories in order to be heard and understood, to be unique and not easily replaceable. We need stories to let the listener partake, and intrinsically motivate him to be part of the story, so that we can better share presentations. That way, we elevate ourselves above the competition – by filling abstract objects with life, hence competing better with other storytellers (media, politics, bloggers, or rumors through the grapevine), generating a bigger impact.
How you get people to listen
Tell a personal story, because the customer first buys you and only then the product that you want to sell: “You don’t believe the message if you don’t believe the messenger!”
- Your personal story has to be riveting and have turning points. It cannot be smooth, predictable and boring – situation, complication, solution.
- A colorful and descriptive language is needed. This automatically implies short, and simple to understand sentences, often narrated in the present tense.
- Objects need to be concrete, not abstract, so that they generate more attention than figures or facts. A good example gave us Steve Jobs, when he pulled a MacBook out of an envelope.
- Or think about the elevator pitch, which is supposed to summarize the value proposition of the company, project or product, as this is the first thing that the customer has to buy. The potential structure of the elevator pitch: Who are we? How do we achieve our goals? The goal is then to summarize this statement in one sentence. Often the claim is even the first sentence of the elevator pitch or the mission statements. Famous corporate claims are: “It’s the real thing’ (Coca-Cola), ‘The world on time’ (Federal Express), ‘Building global leaders’ (McKinsey), ‘Connecting people’ (Nokia), or ‘The world’s local bank’ (HSBC).
- Keep up the suspense. Do not tell all the details at the beginning. If you read a thriller, you also would not mention who the killer is on the first page. Offer personal information and don’t tell it all at once.
As you can see, a lot can be achieved by storytelling that normal advertising can never accomplish. It is therefore a good idea to think about how you can wrap your corporate message into a riveting story line. It really works!