Ok several of you asked the question, what are the essential elements of a compelling story? What should I include to make sure my stories are effective? This is one answer, but you should know I’m notoriously unreliable and the next time I might come up with a completely different one.
The four essential elements of compelling stories:
The story has to be relevant to the audience. Sometimes you might have to pre frame what the relevance of the story is, other times you will want the relevance of the story to sneak up on your audience.
Whether your audience is in a social situation or in a theatre you need to keep in rapport with them. Pay attention, what non verbal clues are they giving you? Are they engaged? I like to encourage my audience to feedback and respond to me, that way I can always check in with them and ask them!
As any actor will tell you, the more you perform in front of an audience the more you begin to develop almost a sixth sense about this. Sometimes you get obvious clues like laughter or gasps and groans, other times it’s the stillness or silence. You learn that bored silence sounds different from fascinated silence! The same performance can feel very different depending on how the audience, as a group react. You learn to pace and lead at the speed of the audience.
By Jeopardy I mean, what is there to lose? What is at stake. Films typically tend to tell stories with high stakes: the end of the world! Murder! Explosions! Getting the girl/boy and living happily ever after! The more there is at stake in a story the more the audience will invest in it.
Storytelling gives us a cloak and when we’re wearing that cloak we can express things that are difficult for people to express. A story has to move you, you have to find your passion for it and express that. By having the courage to go first you create a space for your audience to follow.