What makes them so effective in moving audiences to commit to action? Why is there currently an explosion of story courses, story gurus, business storytellers?

If you are reading this via email, you can watch the video on the blog: Why do Stories work in Persuasion?

What is a Story?

We think of stories as a creative art form but within that creativity there is a lot of structure. The building blocks of great Stories are predictable.

I have written extensively on how to tell great stories, the shapes of stories, what is a story, 7 steps to a great story.

If you haven’t already, check out my TED talk…

My TED talk is coming up to 400k views: “The Discipline of Finishing: Conor Neill at TEDxUniversidaddeNavarra”

I uploaded my first educational tips video to youtube in January 2011.  I wanted to reach out to a wider audience than can come and attend IESE Business School in Barcelona or in Madrid, or those who read my blog.

Today, there are 77 short educational videos on the channel, and with 1.3 Million views, the channel has been a success far beyond what I ever would have expected.

The Future Evolution of my YouTube Educational Channel

My “Rhetorical Journey” youtube channel has now got over 16,700 youtube subscribers and over 1,3 Million views of the educational videos.  The top videos are:

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I plan to continue to share short form video content via this channel.  I will produce 24 new videos over then next 12 months.

Launching Premium Long-Form Educational Content

Up to now I have only shared short tips or 5 minute segments of speeches.  I have received many requests for more, and deeper, material.

I have decided to create a new channel that shares full speeches and full classroom sessions.

Many of you are happy with the short tips that I will continue to provide via the free channel.

This channel is not for everyone.  This channel is only for those of you who want to go deeper into the material that I teach.  I will be sharing at least one new long-form video each month.

[Currently Free] Opening Video: What is Success?

There will be a number of free to view full speeches such as this one from The Leadership Concert in Romania.  This set of speeches was delivered with a full orchestra and concert pianist.

The Videos in the Series

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The full leadership speeches and more available on YouTube Conor Neill Premium Content

Stories are Predictable

“We think of stories as a wildly creative art form but within that creativity and that diversity there is a lot of conformity. Stories are very predictable. No matter where you go in the world, no matter how different people seem, no matter how hard their lives are, people tell stories, universally, and universally the stories are more or less like ours: the same basic human obsessions, and the same basic structure. The structure comes down to: stories have a character, the character has a predicament or a problem—they’re always problem-focused—and the character tries to solve the problem. In its most basic terms, that’s what a story is—a problem solution narrative.” Jonathan Gottschall

The 7 Steps to the Perfect Story

From structure and plot to heroes and characters, your story must have 7 elements in order to engage the audience. Here’s an infographic from the Content Marketing Association that visually defines the process of storytelling:

Click the image below to view a larger version.

Source: Visual Portrait of a Story, adapted by Ohler, J. (2001) from Dillingham, B. (2001)

Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut, photo from nndb

Kurt Vonnegut is an American writer (1922-2007) famous for his satire and humour in the face of desperate circumstances.  He has a wonderful theory on “the shapes of stories” – which he presents in the 4 minute video available below.

Vonnegut’s 8 Rules for Telling a Story

In his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

The Shape of Story

Thanks to Alex Rister on her blog Creating Communication for originally sharing this video.  If you click through to her blog, she also shares an infographic with a summary of Vonnegut’s shapes of story.

7 Rules for Writing with Style

As a further glimpse into the mind of Kurt Vonnegut and his views on writing, here are 7 rules for “writing with style”:

  1. Find a subject you care about
  2. Do not ramble, though
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Have guts to cut
  5. Sound like yourself
  6. Say what you mean
  7. Pity the readers