How do you improve your storytelling? These simple scripts will help you — in less than 15 minutes.

by JERRY SILFWER aka Doctor Spin
Expert in corporate communications and online persuasion

So this weekend, I’ve found that winning an imaginary lottery, Finding Nemo and Billy Idol all have something in common.

If you’re looking to improve your storytelling, then I have three perfect ways for you to challenge your brain and get some great results in the process.

And the best part: Neither of these techniques should take you more than 15 minutes to try.

Here goes:

The Pixar Pitch

Emma Coats, story-artist at Pixar, has broken down the key elements of great storytelling in a very elegant way.

The Pixar Pitch, made famous by Dan Pink in his book To Sell Is Human, is a great way for you to find a narrative, a storyline, in your business.

Here’s the script for you to try:

Once upon a time there was _________. Every day _________. One day _________. Because of that _________. Because of that _________. Until finally _________.

Jay Connor of Working Differently gives this example of a plot for Finding Nemo:

1. Once upon a time, there was a widowed fish, named Marlin, who was extremely protective of his only son, Nemo.
2. Every day Marlin warned Nemo of the ocean’s dangers and implored him not to swim far away.
3. One day in an act of defiance, Nemo ignores his father’s warnings and swims into the open water.
4. Because of that, he is captured by a diver and ends up in the fish tank of a dentist in Sydney.
5. Because of that Marlin sets off on a journey to recover Nemo, enlisting the help of other sea creatures along the way.
6. Until finally Marvin and Nemo find each other, reunite and learn that love depends on trust.

When I tried this for my agency, Spin Factory, here’s what I came up with:

Once upon a time, there were no computers and no internet.

Every day, the great companies of planet Earth had to rely on a few wealthy mass distributors of propaganda to reach their consumers.

One day, the advancements of information technology exploded, and all companies had to change their way of reaching out, but most had few ideas on how to do this.

Because of that, evil pundits posing as “social media experts” started making lots of money from great companies by convincing them to pollute the digital universe with even more clutter and complexity.

Because of that, Jerry Silver struggled long and hard with the idea that maybe great companies should do the opposite; instead of trying to communicate everything, everywhere and all the time, they should focus on making the world a little bit clearer instead?

Until finally, one day, Jerry decided to take a leap of faith together with a small group of brave companies, all tired of pushing one message after the other with no effect, and so the agency Spin Factory was founded.

The Rebel Yell Statement

Maybe you work to earn money, put food on the table and hopefully have some fun in the process. But is that all? Maybe there’s also something deeper, a core purpose, that drives us to go the extra mile?

In a guest post on Ryan Lee, Why Rebels get Rich, copywriter Kevin Rogers published this simple yet effective script, The Rebel Yell Statement, named after the legendary rock anthem by Billy Idol.

My name is _________, I love _________ but was fed up with _________. So I created _________ that _________.

This is of course quite similar to the Pixar Pitch above, but where the former helps you understand the basic story of your business, the Rebel Yell Statement helps you put the finger on your core reason for being in business.

Here’s an example by Kevin Rogers of a person you might recognize:

“My name is Steve, I love computers but was fed up with the snail’s pace of commercial technology. So I created a user-friendly computer that processes information faster than anything else out there today.”

Here’s the Rebel Yell Statement I wrote for this blog, Doktor Spinn:

My name is Jerry, I love public relations, but was fed up with “dinosaur agencies” giving clients bullshit advice on digital marketing. So I created a blog that shares knowledge based on academic research, hands-on experience, and passion.

The Lottery Question

Imagine your organization won the lottery, and money no longer is a primary motivator. You and your co-workers are now taken care of financially, and the brand has earned notoriety by having the winning ticket.

Taking money out of the equation might seem counterintuitive for a business. But if you try this thought model for your company, you’ll find that some critical values fall out.

So ask yourself this question:

With all that money in the bank, what would your company do next?

Here’s how I imagine this scenario for our agency Mad Science Digital:

The right people would hand in their resignations, and the good people would stay. And I would do nothing to influence anyone’s decision.

Great minds need time for reflection to grow stronger and happier, so we would have more vacation time than the usual industry standard.

We would set aside time each week to explore new academic research and interact with the scientific community on behavioral research, human psychology, and online marketing.

I wouldn’t go out on a frantic hiring spree with all that money, but instead, invest heavily in the people we already have.

We would say no to working with clients if we don’t feel passionate about their business objectives.

Our kickoffs, conferences and team building travels would be so epic that it would be ridiculous.

We would do pro bono work for important non-profits that can’t afford our expertise otherwise.

In spite of having all that money in our bank accounts, we would still work hard because we consider hard work to be a virtue and a way of life.

Now, the question is, what could we implement today — even without winning an actual lottery?

Improve your storytelling with the The Rebel Yell statement.

Rebels think differently.

What do you think of these techniques? Let me know in the comment section.


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Jerry Silfwer is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. Via his agency Spin Factory, Jerry is advising brands on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, news anchor and television host, and their three-year-old son, Jack.