Have you ever thought about the journey of a plastic bag? Has anyone ever told you about the giant pile of garbage in the ocean? Both are interesting, both have meaning to anyone who cares even the slightest bit about taking care of the world we live in. Both, can be incredibly boring. So what is one to do when they have a boring subject but wants to get their message out?
This is not a foreign dilemma to businesses. “Boring” products or “boring” business stories are a tough thing to overcome sometimes. Even interesting stories fall prey to being told in boring ways. Tony Hsieh could have written a very boring book about his company, but instead he wrote a very interesting and compelling story (aff) about the struggle to start (and then save) Zappos. He turned a potentially boring story into a compelling story of human triumph and accomplishment.
Filmmakers Ramin Bahrani and Werner Herzog collaborated to tell the incredibly boring story of how a plastic bag can go from your local grocery store to a landfill and then end up in the Pacific Trash Vortex. But instead of a 30 second film stating the bullet points of the journey (or even worse a 60 minute expose) they went down the same path of interesting and compelling storytelling.
So how did they do it? They start with a bit of anthropomorphism and give the bag a narrative. Add a dash of beautiful cinematography and visual storytelling to the mix, and blend. Once combined, these elements create a very compelling story with a real message. Whether you’re concerned about the planet or not, this is fantastic story telling and worth your time to watch.
Want another example of killer storytelling? Check out this video describing how Johnnie Walker made his own game. Both of these videos are amazing examples of how to tell a story.
From watching these two great examples it seems there are several rules for telling a boring story in an interesting way are clear.
- Use the right amount of time to tell your story
- Don’t just state facts, display them in ways that relate to your watchers / readers / listeners (info graphics are great at this)
- Make the story easy and enjoyable to digest
- Humor never hurts
Do you have any other examples of exemplary storytelling or “rules” you’d like to share? I’d love to see / read them so please link to them in the comments.
Thanks for reading,
Josh S Peters