Touseef Mirza
Touseef Mirza 29 January 2015

Story Is A Big Deal - Even In The Digital Age

We primarily connect through stories, this mode of communication needs to be harnessed in the digital medium.

Digital and content. I, like many of you, am in awe with all the amazing possibilities that the digital medium offers. A lot of the times though, the way digital information is communicated can be overwhelming, technical, and frankly pretty dry. So “digital” content in of itself typically falls short of being captivating. What does “captivating content” mean exactly? It means content that connects with your audience on an emotional level. One of the most effective ways to do so is by storytelling. Stories galore. 

Stories have been around for as long as human beings have been able to communicate—50,000 years to be exact. They can be found in all sorts of formats: in books, movies, conversations, songs, brands, etc.

What are stories though? I know, this seems obvious, but it’s good to make sure we are all on the same page. Stories communicate a string of events connected together in a meaningful way. So it’s not just bulleted facts that we typically see in boooooring powerpoint presentations.

In stories, the information conveyed generally takes us on a voyage by starting somewhere, ending somewhere else, and providing meaning along the way. Stories are not factual; they are meaningful. That is how we inherently connect to content. Story provides meaning.

I was recently listening to a podcast of author Harvey Sachs who was talking about his book Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; probably the most renowned symphony ever created. He explained that the symphony has four distinct phases that are characterized emotionally by the music. It starts off with despair, to protest, then to acceptance, and finally choosing joy. It’s really a well-thought out, eloquent story expressed in music form. I realize now that I didn’t fully appreciated that magnificent piece of music until Mr.Sachs broke it down in a way that provides emotional meaning to me. Now, I find this symphony more amazing than ever! That’s the power of story.

Digital storytelling—baby steps. Communicating through the digital medium, ie, through websites, social media, mobile apps, is a fairly new venture. It’s only been around for 15-20 years at the most (since the dawn of the Internet). So all things considered, we are still in the early stages of exploring and understanding how to communicate effectively in the digital medium.

One thing is sure, by tapping into the innate power of storytelling, one can readily connect with audiences in any medium, including digital.

Here is a great video from Free Range Studios that shows how stories have evolved over time up until the present day of the digital age. Enjoy! 

This article originally appeared on the blog on January, 1, 2015. I’ve republished it here with minor edits.

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