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Halloween morning, 1938. Panic gripped America. The Martians had just invaded New Jersey.
The reason was a low budget radio program and a 23-year future Hollywood legend who gave his voice to a broadcast that shot into pop culture history. The War of the Worlds radio drama unintentionally proved the power of a good story. The story of panic is bit of a myth but it’s part of our modern folklore now. Just like that, a great story suspended our beliefs.
Storytelling is an ancient art. But it is still so much part our humanness. Today, storytelling is not just about using the digital medium. The power of storytelling can be used for persuasion, as a strategic business tool, for education and motivation, and as always for capturing attention.
So, is storytelling a present and future skill? You bet.
Good stories stick. Great storytelling shifts thoughts. Steve Jobs was a great storyteller. Today, Elon Musk is the bard who is selling us ludicrous dreams about Mars and the Hyperloop. In your own way, you too can be a good storyteller. You don’t have to launch a rocket. You just might have to use a PowerPoint slide or write an office memo.
There’s always room for a story. These five Udemy classes are here to help you start.
Discover: The basic structure of all great stories.
A door-to-door dictionary salesman made good as a writer and actor on a MTV show is a pretty good story in its own. But today Kevin Allison might be more well-known as the host of RISK, a popular podcast on iTunes. It is definitely one of the best storytelling podcasts you should try.
If you are wary of your own stories, don’t be. Most of the storytellers on the podcast are amateurs who bare their souls on the mic. Kevin has put together this course on Udemy that bares the framework for weaving a story.
The course breaks down the structure of stories and walks you through it step by step. Understand the 5 beats of classic story structure that make its key moments. Master them and you have the core in place. The lessons won’t overwhelm you and you can get into the sample stories at the end to see how the advice glues together.
Discover: How to use a story and inspire change.
An inspirational story can be a change maker. Mahatma Gandhi’s life story influenced everyone from Martin Luther King to Barack Obama. The cultural and scientific impact of a Star Trek is known today. Storytelling for influence is a critical skill that can help you create impact within your own organization.
Maybe you are an entrepreneur. Try a story next time instead of a pitch deck. But do note that a story told to influence an action is very different from a story just narrated for fun.
The 23 short videos are designed to teach you this difficult art. One of the sections will tell you the way to find the right story when you need it and how you can structure it to influence an audience. Some of the tips seem repetitive but are used to recap the key points and the tools you will use in your story.
Discover: The essence of writing great stories.
Do you need to live an interesting life to tell a great story?
I really don’t know. What I do know is that the best books are born from a keen sense of observation about the world. Every worthwhile story shares some common pillars which prop it up and these can be sketched out with imagination. The oral tradition of storytelling spawned the first books. And, this course could be the tip every new writer needs for that first attempt at a written story.
Glamour is a women-centric magazine that was first published in 1939. It usually covers entertainment, fashion, and beauty trends across the world. Elisabeth Egan is the books editor at Glamour and she holds your hand through the first hesitant steps of crafting your own personal story.
The skills learned with a personal essay will help you tell any other kind story with the same ease. The overview says that a key pillar or concept will be introduced in each lecture. That will be followed by a simple, practical step-by-step exercise to help you put the concepts into practice.
Discover: How to put stories to work for your business and brand.
Remember the wheelchair basketball ad? A beer ad made us pause and rewind again. It had little to do with beer, but a lot to do with friendship. That’s a brand story in five seconds. In a time when retail shelves and online nooks are filled with me-too products, a sticky story served through an ad can hand a business the advantage. From GoPro to Google, everyone is bringing storytelling into their conversations.
The fundamentals of a story don’t change when you bring it over to a business goal. Again, you have to choose the right story for your audience and then build it up with a narrative arc. This 2-hour long course is a workshop on how to change humdrum information into a story.
Kevin Allison returns as the head instructor for this course too. The course is concise and without any fluff. Very watchable.
Discover: The secrets of presentation from a TED speaker.
It’s time to move beyond PowerPoint. Watch Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture or any great presentation to understand that slides are mere background. At the foreground, you always have a story that subdues all the noise around. As a modern worker, you will be held at gunpoint and told to give a talk to an audience of more than one. Your first goal will be to avoid embarrassment. The second will be to get a crescendo of claps. So, give this short course from a TED organizer some time and work on becoming a better public speaker.
Steve Garguilo is a coach, but he calls himself an instigator who has coached many to act on their ideas. He also started a TEDxJNJ event at Johnson & Johnson. So, you can trust him to teach you how to tell stories. The course will help you become intentional about your communication.
With this clear purpose, you can use an oral presentation or a simple talk to change the way people think. The key takeaway is a set of skills you can use on any form of communication for the rest of your life.
Write Your Own Winning Story
Social media has changed the way we share stories. You could be a videographer, an advertiser, a PR specialist, or a teacher – you will need to shape facts into something more engaging. Storytelling is on a kind of renaissance today, but digital media is just the platform. The old-world skill needed to spin a good yarn is still the meat and potatoes of it all.
Try your hand at one of the courses. Remember, every paid course on Udemy comes with:
- Lifetime access.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Certificate of completion.
Have you ever needed to tell a story to snag the hearts and minds of your audience?
Image Credits: Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock