I finished a chapter in the book I’m writing and read through what I wrote. It wasn’t working. It felt empty. I didn’t feel what I was trying to say.
What was it missing?
Stories and examples.
It is easy to describe a strategy and a process to accomplish a goal. It’s also easy to use common terminology in your field to give advice and suggest strategies.
The thing is, though, that a strategy without a story doesn’t make sense.
Add a story, however, with a specific example no matter how irrelevant it may seem and you will help your audience finally get what you are trying to say.
In fact, stories can be even more effective than science. Take this Medium post by Michael Simmons: “Forget The 10,000-Hour Rule; Edison, Bezos, & Zuckerberg Follow The 10,000-Experiment Rule.” He offers a very convincing argument for The 10,000-Experiment Rule based on stories from successful entrepreneurs. It doesn’t matter if The 10,000 Hour Rule is based on science. His stories are even more convincing. (I think it is worth noting that K. Anders Ericsson, who originated the 10,000 Rule, would probably agree with this sentiment. The thing most people miss about deliberate practice is that you have to take risks, try new things, and push yourself to grow while getting feedback on your success and failures.
The stories can come from famous people like Simmons’s article. They can also come from your own personal experience as well. Countless bestselling books use personal stories either as the framework for the book or the individual support for the strategies they use. Tim Ferriss, for example, uses his stress and subsequent success in his 4-Hour Work Week.
If you find that the article, book, or talk you are working on just doesn’t make sense, then add tome narrative. Include more examples and more stories to show specific examples of how what you are trying to say really does make sense.