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Effective Storytelling Step by Step - Book Review

1 August 2018
Dr. Moria Levy
man sitting around flying pages

Begin the Tale! The notion of utilizing storytelling as a strategic tool to advance agendas, goals, and objectives found its expression through the literary work of Osnat Goaz in 2017. Specializing in business storytelling, Goaz authored this book as a narrative, employing a unique writing style that fully engrosses readers in the essence of "storytelling."


Goaz systematically presents a coherent framework, drawing from various theorists and delineating the blueprint for constructing a narrative. This structured doctrine is intricately layered and interwoven with numerous anecdotes and references, including insightful YouTube video demonstrations. These videos primarily feature advertisements—an archetypal medium for purposeful storytelling.


The book traverses the following domains:

-   Introduction

-   Story Schemas

-   Essential Components

-   Qualities of a Compelling Story

-   Establishment of Trust

-   Persuasive Techniques

-   Functional Purpose


It's noteworthy that while this summary encapsulates most of the book's themes, the actual text offers additional dimensions and a range of examples from diverse sources. The encapsulation might not precisely mirror Goaz's chosen terminology for titling the various elements of the narrative framework; adjustments have been made to present straightforward concepts that are easy to understand and recall.


For those searching for an exhaustive exploration of all the intricate details and illustrations, the complete reading experience is available for acquisition. As a minor aside, the presentation sequence of the pyramid follows a bottom-up progression, with each tier building upon the previous, all centered around the pursuit of meaning.



A story encapsulates a meticulously crafted portrayal of reality shaped by the storyteller and the audience. From the same set of facts, diverse interpretations can emerge, each tailored to distinct objectives. These variations arise from intentional choices of inclusion and omission, combined with how the narrative is presented. In the professional sphere, a story acts as a cohesive narrative that adheres to the framework of reality. It's crucial to remember that the commanding influence of a tale predominantly emanates from its narrative essence rather than solely mirroring the bare reality it represents.


Revealing the Purpose of Storytelling

Why partake in storytelling? Let's approach this from its culmination: a story is a potent means to persuade, convey messages, and incite action. This capability rests on several foundational components:

1. Enduring Impact: Stories linger in memory, unlike facts that tend to fade away.


2. Engaging Accessibility: Stories naturally captivate the listener's attention.


3. Significant Insight: Stories confer meaning upon the fabric of reality.


4. Cognitive Ease: Our minds effortlessly process stories, conjuring vivid mental imagery.


5. Nurturing Connection: Stories can evoke emotions and foster intimacy—an enduring significance.

 In essence, storytelling is a skillful instrument that exerts lasting influence by encapsulating and conveying the meaning of the human experience.



Story Schemas

Varieties of Narratives

 Breaking down stories into frameworks:

1. Disruptive Narratives: These stories defy familiar patterns, assuming unexpected forms often laced with humor. They play with expectations, leading to conclusions that contrast with projections.


2. "Current" Chronicles: These narratives intertwine with ongoing events. They relate to prevalent news subjects or imminent occasions (such as stories linked to upcoming holidays). Narratives tied to celebrities also fall into this category, appealing to voyeuristic interests.


3. Revealing Expeditions: Stories that unearth insights about human nature or social dynamics, supported by research, surveys, or personal experiences. These narratives validate or challenge established beliefs.


4. Triumph over Adversity: These tales echo the Cinderella archetype—triumphant feats against hardship, the underdog conquering the formidable.


5. Revelations and Secrets: Narratives that divulge hush-hush revelations, often venturing into the outrageous.


6. Mutual Bonds: Emotionally evocative tales designed to provoke cautionary narratives in response from either an entity or an individual.


7. Humorous Ventures: Stories that induce laughter through clever anecdotes or comedic stretches.


8. Timeless Odyssey: A classic storytelling approach depicting the protagonist's journey through the narrative's landscape.


In crafting a narrative, an appropriate framework molds the tale into something engaging to convey and compelling to listen to.


Essential Components

 The essential elements that every story will include are:

1. The Core Element


2. Orientation and Context: Addressing five crucial questions—What? Who? When? Why? Where?


3. The Complication or Challenge: This occurrence forms the foundation of a narrative worth retelling.


4. Resolution: The development of the narrative within the event.


5. Techniques of Persuasion: These will be elaborated in a separate chapter, also known as evaluation tools.


6. The Key Message: Referred to professionally as the "Coda," this encapsulates the essence of the story.


Qualities of a Compelling Story

Essential elements of content crucial for crafting a top-tier story:


•   Central Protagonist: A pivotal character who forms the narrative's core, someone relatable to the audience.


•   Universal Human Experience: An encounter that resonates universally, transcending contexts and embracing virtual reality.


•   Emotional Engagement: The capacity to evoke an emotional connection in the reader/listener, enabling them to identify with at least one character.


•   Transformational Arc: A transition from adversity to triumph, or vice versa.


•   Artful Assembly: The organization and interweaving of all components and attributes into the "glue" that binds them together into a coherent narrative.


•   Provocation through Absence: Deliberately excluding certain elements to prompt reflection in the reader/listener.




When delving into any subject, a crucial strategic question is pursuing success. What are the pivotal factors that elevate us from being merely "good" to achieving resounding success? Guez outlines two facets:



Establishment of Trust

Before embarking on persuasion, an indispensable prerequisite is cultivating trust within your audience.

The establishment of trust encompasses multiple factors that require careful consideration and construction, all intricately linked to how the narrative unfolds. These components collectively shape the emotional resonance we experience as we listen or read:

•   Authenticity: It conveys the feeling that the narrator genuinely shares their personal experiences with us, nurturing an emotional connection.


•   Credibility: This provides a foundation to believe that the narrator speaks the truth and possesses authoritative knowledge (rooted in experience).


•   Integrity: The narrative aligns with our value system, enabling us to perceive the story with harmony.


•   Vulnerability: It unveils the narrator's inner world, potentially revealing weaknesses, thus forging a connection with the listener.


Important to remember: Even if a story incorporates all the necessary content elements and employs potent persuasion techniques, the failure to establish trust, or worse, the erosion of trust once established, leads to complete loss. A word of caution...


Persuasive Techniques

Distinct types of rhetorical tools can be seamlessly integrated into a story to achieve the desired impact:

1. Cognitive Approach - Facts and Data: This involves persuasion through reason, utilizing concrete information and data.


2. Emotional Approach: Persuasion is achieved by eliciting emotional responses.


3. Stylistic Structural Approach: This form of persuasion relies on genre selection, musical accompaniments, and the intentional arrangement of facts within the narrative's structure.


4. Illustrative Approach: These means can encompass any of the types above. For instance, a potent and resonant core can be an illustrative approach. Similarly, a fact could be employed in an exemplary manner. Even elements such as dramatic narrative structures can function as illustrative means, tapping into emotional appeal.


Primarily, these four components are often combined. The art of crafting a compelling story lies in skillfully utilizing their collective strengths.


Functional Purpose

Unveiling Importance


A well-crafted story comprises two essential aspects: the narrator and the listener. The narrative woven by the narrator should hold purpose, driven by an agenda intended to persuade the individual before them. It might also evoke emotion or prompt action. For instance, advertisements are designed to sell; a parent's bedtime story seeks to comfort and deepen the bond, while a father's tale to his teenage son might carry educational intentions.


Conversely, on the receiving end—whether through listening or reading—the audience should extract value from the story. This value could mirror the narrator's intended message or even encompass additional insights and meanings gained during the interaction.


When constructing a compelling narrative, the crux lies in questioning: Who comprises the audience? What goals do you strive to attain with them? What value will they derive? How can you effectively guide them toward these outcomes? Fundamentally, this involves selecting the reality to be recounted and shaping it into a captivating narrative.


Is storytelling an art? As Goaz asserts, it's a nurtured skill. One can elevate storytelling to the realm of artistry through mastering the craft. The significance of this pursuit is beyond doubt.



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