Storytelling is powerful. Successful use of storytelling will make your audience more connected, engaged and passionate towards your events. Just like stories, storytelling is surrounded by possibility, wonder and mystery.
To make your lives easier, Tim Corporaal, Co-founder of Event StoryBoard, shares 5 tips to take into account when designing a storytelling event.
1. Let your audience be the hero of the story
For event designers the trick to storytelling is to not tell the story yourself, but to have the audience experience it. By setting up a storyworld and enabling your audience to be the hero, you allow your event to be the guide. Leading them to the experience you want them to have.
Anyone who’s ever been to Burning Man (or similar events) will know what a powerful, emotional experience it can be to feel anything is possible! This way of designing storytelling experiences is known as “the unifying theory of 2+2” from Santon & Peterson. Instead of giving your audience 4, you give them 2+2 and make them come up with 4 themselves.
2. Give your event a heartbeat
Every story has a suspense arc. This arc builds up the tension leading the story to it’s climax. A storytelling event will need to do the same with its event experiences. Multiple climax experiences will lead to multiple suspension arcs, giving the event a ‘heartbeat’ of peaks.
Using the heartbeat while designing your event, gives you the opportunity to connect the climaxes with the goals and brand of your event. Linking the audiences’ peak experiences to what you find important. A handy model to map out your events heartbeat is the Heartbeat model by UK company: CGA.
3. Think broader than the event
Without storytelling before and after your event, the event itself becomes just a chapter in the story. And no-one likes to hear just one chapter of a story! To make the story complete you will need to stretch your story around your event.
This also extends the time your audience is actively involved with your event and its story. A great example of pre-event storytelling is the way Tomorrowland sent out their tickets. Instead of a PDF, they sent out treasure boxes, which contained the entry bracelent for ticket holders, and a key, letting their audience experience one of Tomorrowland’s ‘magical moments’ long before the event.
4. Visualise the story
Animations, movies and even some novels all start out as a visualisations in the form of a storyboard. Visualising the story helps the creators to get a clear overview. This technique can be applied in event design.
By visualising the customer journey of your audience, along with a timeline, you create the storyboard for your event. The storyboard allows you to align all the experiences your audience has into a storytelling flow.
Working with a storyboard for events is also a really effective way to communicate your design with your team or clients.
5. Look within / be true to yourself
There are a lot of tricks, tools and methods to integrate storytelling into your event, yet the most important part will need to come from within. The challenge in well designed storytelling is that the story has to resonate with the DNA of the event/brand you represent.
This will give your audience something to connect to, leading to loyalty and trust. When designing an event this means you’ll need to start with the big idea of what you want to communicate and build your event and its story around that. A clear vision will make it a lot easier to communicate your story.
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