I recently read the short and engaging book, Do Story: How to Tell Your Story So the World Listens, by Bobette Buster. I had put it on my reading list thinking it might help me to find my voice as a storyteller in my films but actually think the beauty of the book is that it could help me to provide advice to my film’s central characters on how they can tell a compelling story.
Bobette describes working with charities and academically minded people who want to engage their audience but who want to tell all the facts. She states: “There are two approaches you can take when it comes to trying to get someone to take action. Present the cold hard facts. Or make an emotional connection. One tends to work, the other less so.”
Bobette describes how initially in discussion with one academic their story contained good facts but was “verging on being boring”. She was able to coach them to tell an engaging story. Getting academics out of the mindset of telling cold, hard facts, I think is one of the things that the success of my films will depend on.
I am thinking that I will need to interview the academics in a different way to help them tell that more personal story that will have emotional resonance and the audience will connect to. Specifics and examples are important in storytelling and connect on a personal level that numerical facts or generalized information can’t. In discussing their research with the academics, their story could be about their motives or the journey of a patient that in so way touched them.
Perhaps asking them why they do what they do, if they can provide the aha moment or catalyst that started them working in this area, how they think a change can come, any examples of patients with the condition that they are studying that have stuck with them, will all help to make that personal connection.
I could also encourage them to be storyteller, to be concise but descriptive, to pick up on small facts in the story like what they saw, smelt, heard, touched during an encounter will help draw the audience in. Maybe I could even provide the 10 principles of storytelling.
Ultimately my aim would be to get the people I am collaborator with to be of the mindset of Bill Simon who stated that “When you tell a purposeful story demonstrating your attitudes and passion, suddenly the data, facts, and figures of your CV become memorable. The story you tell will hit your listeners’ hearts and stay top of mind long after you have left”